Toshiba's Forward Thinking

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In my last newsletter, there’s a story on Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) launching a new business unit – Toshiba Managed Business Services (TMBS). No surprise here that an MFP vendor is trying to expand further into services. After all, we’ve written about Ricoh, Canon, Xerox, and HP all trying to do the same thing. With paper volumes declining, hardware just isn’t enough to pay the bills anymore.

What’s interesting about TMBS, however, is the range of its focus. It is targeting four main areas within the enterprise market:

  • Managed Print Services
  • Document security, workflow/capture
  • Barcode systems
  • Digital signage and kiosks 

Now we all know what MPS is, but here’s what Chris Applegate, Director, Enterprise Services, TMBS, had to say about his organization’s focus on MPS. “The MPS space has become overcrowded. You’ve got MFP vendors, big box office equipment providers, VARs, and even large technology distributors playing there. And their value propositions all sound alike.

“Basically, they tell the same story. They provide a baseline assessment and an analysis. They then help customers right size their fleets by doing things like replacing inefficient desktop printers with workgroup models. And they provide software to manage that new fleet of printers.

“We believe that creating a lower cost per printed page is only a foundation for managed services. The true value is in reducing print. The paperless office is a myth, but running an office with less paper can be a reality today. We help customers choose when paper is the best solution.”

The focus on digital signage and kiosks is designed to offer an alternative solution to printing. In a world where more and more formerly printed materials is now being read on tablets, this makes a lot of sense. I always tell people that a number of years back at a Xerox Tech Expo I saw a lot of “digital paper” solutions previewed that I think foreshadowed today’s tablets. I think even better “viewing” technology is on the way.

Healthy Coopetition
The other forward thinking strategy employed by TMBS is its vendor-agnostic approach. Included in TMBS software portfolio is Lexmark’s Perceptive software suite, as well as some HP security software. Yes, both HP and Lexmark make MFPs that conceivably compete with Toshiba. This is the second time I have heard TABS commit to this vendor-neutral approach. The first was two years ago, when they launched a professional services group – and they said that it was not about the hardware anymore. I can’t say for sure whether this is lip service or reality, but it certainly makes sense. Integrators selling scan-focused document imaging solutions realized it was not about the hardware brand several years ago.

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