Toshiba LEAD – The Race to…wait for it…One Billion Dollars!

David Ramos
Nov 25, 2013

Revenue diversification and revenue growth as a corporate strategy to increase sales from new products and new markets is nothing new. Expanding into a new segment of an industry that a business is already in, or investing in a promising business outside of the scope of the existing business are solid avenues to diversification. What is so unique about Toshiba America Business Solutions is how they get there; with technology creation, innovation and a true brand agnostic approach. Need proof they are serious? 25% of their core MFP product page is HP & Lexmark and almost their entire printer product page is NOT THEIR PRODUCT. This is not the bait and switch of a Global Imaging Systems, where you are assured that yes, you will be able to continue carrying multiple product lines, only to make the non-Xerox line noncompetitive with high internal transfer costs making it difficult if not impossible to recommend products that compete with the core Xerox line. No, this group at Toshiba is different and the independent dealer channel should take notice.

Toshiba LEAD for the second consecutive year struck home a message of “Revenue Beyond Print”. Digital Signage and the Ellumina Digital Signage services along with Virtuoso digital signage displays, and LED signage for outdoor usage was eloquently showcased and created a very positive buzz among the independent dealers, Toshiba direct employees and end user attendees. Highlighted throughout the technology floor and general sessions were applications and content vs. hardware which made it easy for dealers and end users to envision the digital signage market opening as well as key vertical market opportunities were demonstrated.


Toshiba Digital Signage in Tesla Dadeland Showroom - Miami, Florida

Recurring revenue platforms are the most important mechanisms for independent dealers and digital signage will be geared around creating and refreshing content, maintenance agreements, and extended warranties. Depending on the client/end user type, there’s also an ongoing additional content platforms with the customer paying a monthly fee to the dealer under a subscription based revenue model.  Also highlighted was the ability to deliver specific vertical market applications, pricing structures and support, to create an annuity stream and margin structure that fit into the business model our industry is accustomed.


Toshiba Digital Signage with Custom Content in Tesla Dadeland Showroom - Miami, Florida

Dealer feedback was direct and positive. As one dealer shared “When your OEM is author of the National No Print Day campaign, they need to bounce back in a big way, this roll-out is a step in the right direction.  And you are almost surprised when they remind you that they actually launched 16 new MFPs in the past year.” With 250+ independent dealers in attendance, this event and subsequently the messaged delivered by CEO Scott Maccabe and his team was received with open arms.  Dealers were optimistic upon hearing Mr. Maccabe emphasize how Toshiba will continue investing in R&D and the impact this will have in keeping them on the cutting edge of technology creation.  During the analyst dinner on the first evening, Scott addressed the group and fielded various questions from the assorted analyst/press individuals.  His understanding regarding the business of technology, technology innovation, resume and track record of success is quite impressive.  In the general session on Tuesday morning Mr. Maccabe articulately positioned his focus to making his business unit “Toshiba’s first choice to deliver new B2B technologies, in direct alignment with the corporation’s global focus.”

For the third consecutive year the event featured a day exclusively focused to end users. This is a skillful move which demonstrates Toshiba’s concentration to creating brand stickiness.  Not every multinational can have a sticky brand. Actually, they’re pretty challenging to come by. Developing a sticky brand requires a lot of moving parts coming together to create an outstanding business: strategy, people, products, service, performance, effort, and dedication. Each year Toshiba has increased attendance 50% over the previous year and this year’s turnout was over 250 current clients and potential customers.  The day feature an end-user general session which was highlighted with a technology demonstration by Bill Melo, Vice President of Marketing, Services and Solutions (aided by Joseph Contreras, Director, Product and Solutions Marketing), education break out sessions and a luncheon with Hall of Fame Quarterback and current Fox NFL Sunday co-host, Terry Bradshaw (he is my boyhood hero, so I admit I am biased…that being said, his speech was phenomenal).

In my sit-down with Bill Melo, he repeatedly emphasized revenue diversification and the specific goal to target “at least 10 percent of your business” from areas beyond print.  I shared with him that with regard to digital signage his message was met with some healthy skepticism regarding the ability of Toshiba to support the independent dealer channel with the initiative.  Melo assured me that Toshiba was more than prepared to handle the demand and support of content creation, sales and post-sales support in order to assist the independent dealer channel in this new endeavor.

I’m always asked my opinion on companies and their capabilities. My opinion is that with almost 20-25% of TABS revenues coming from Managed Print Services they appear to have earned the right to be considered a thought leader in not only that space but they should also be taken seriously by the channel in their ability to look to future strategies and technologies that will help shift the traditional office equipment dealer to new revenue streams via new technologies, services, programs and revenue generating platforms.  My advice, always do your research regarding your specific markets potential for any new product or services…then after completing that analysis on your specific market regarding digital signage, if the potential is there, jump on it faster than the channel jumped into MPS and you will accelerate your business transformation beyond the scope of print and output.

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