Toshiba Launches Dedicated Services Organization



George Mikolay


Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) recently announced the expansion of its core business with the launch of Toshiba Managed Business Services (TMBS) unit. The new organization, which will be self-sufficient, will look to strengthen the company’s present business services offerings in managed print services (MPS), managed document solutions (MDS), document security, workflow/capture and barcode printing systems. In addition, TMBS will look to establish a Toshiba U.S. market presence in the retail kiosks and digital signage business. Its primary focus will be on the financial, healthcare, education and retail markets.

The new organization, while having its own staff and operating separately from existing business units and channels, will also leverage existing strengths at TABS, according to Bill Melo, vice president of marketing, services and solutions, TABS, and general manager of TMBS. TMBS will be housed at TABS’ new headquarters in Irvine, Calif., and co-located at TABS facilities throughout the country. The unit will leverage the existing Toshiba dealer network for break/fix operation, as well as Toshiba infrastructure for dispatch and billing operations.

“We’ve had a very successful MPS program, and the way we went to market with MPS in 2004 mirrors to a degree what we’re doing with TMBS,” Melo said. “We’re going to bring to market solutions to customers, and at same time improve the capability of local Toshiba organizations by building unique customer solutions into repeatable solutions.”

Distinguishing between traditional channels and TMBS, TMBS is a services organization, and discussions will be around software solutions and workflow and generally not around hardware. Its principal partner will be IBM’s former retail store point-of-sale solutions business, which parent company Toshiba TEC acquired earlier this year. Now known as Toshiba Gold Commerce Solutions (TGCS), it is the number one market share leader in point-of-sales systems, having roughly half of the top retailers in the world at its disposal. Together TGCS will coordinate with TMBS to bring services and solutions to the customer base.

The organization will also look to help Toshiba establish more of a presence in the barcode systems and digital signage businesses, the latter of which Melo sees as a high-growth area, with a 20 percent compounded annual growth rate. Parent company Toshiba TEC is in the process of developing its own digital signage solutions largely for the retail space, and TMBS will be looking to integrate digital signage with point-of-sale systems.

Standing Out in MPS

According to TMBS Director of Enterprise Services Chris Applegate, the market reality is that the MPS space is very overcrowded. And while note yet shut, the window of opportunity in MPS is starting to close. “It’s not just MFP vendors anymore in this space,” Applegate said. “Cartridge companies, VARs and even large technology distributors are all playing in the MPS space, and the value proposition is starting to sound more and more alike.”

As Applegate explained, all the players are telling the same story. In addition to a baseline assessment, which includes an inventory of all devices and costs associated with them, proposals include detailed analysis using a network based tool, recommendations for savings, optimization which typically leads to a  right-sizing and refresh of fleet from higher-cost devices to lower-cost devices, and finally an implementation of a fleet management system. In the mind of CFO or CIO, they all sound the same.

In TMBS’ proposed philosophy, while MPS is important, it will only serve as the foundation, or part of the equation. The key value, according to Applegate, will be in the reduction of printed pages, not just the reduction of what it costs to produce the printed pages. “While the paper free office is not possible, an office running on less paper can be a reality today,” Applegate said. “This is where we will bring real value, in reducing the overall printed pages.”

Utilizing solutions such as Adobe LeanPrint and PaperCut MF, TMBS will focus on getting clients to print smarter, optimizing print and reducing waste. Additional solutions offerings from the likes of Drivve | Image, DocuWare and Perceptive Software will further help clients with a transition from the printed page to an electronic one, with basic storage and retrieval and the automation of intensive workflows.

Less is More

While TMBS will be looking to de-emphasize the printed page and fundamentally change client content delivery to the electronic page, Melo did emphasize that the MFP hardware business still represents significant growth opportunity for Toshiba. As he explained, while the MFP business is mature and flat, it’s still the largest of the markets the company serves.

“A basic quandary we face is that customers want to use less of our product,” said Melo. “But to some degree by virtue of our current hardware market share, there is still an upside for us in preaching the message of printing less. One, customers do want to print less, so if we meet a customer need and implement that solution well, we’re going to gain market share. Even though our customer may reduce printed pages by 40 percent, for us that customer is still an incremental add-on, and all of that is incremental page volume. Our share of print will go up even though printing itself is on the decline.”