When a dealer announces the launch of 23 new MFPs before its annual dealer meeting even kicks off, your expectations are automatically raised. Such was the case with Toshiba, which issued a press release announcing the new hardware the morning of its LEAD event — its annual conference for dealers and end users, held in Las Vegas May 16-19.

For the first time this year, Toshiba combined its Toshiba America Business Systems’ LEAD conference with Toshiba Connect, the Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions (TGCS) annual event. According to the firm’s marketing materials, this allowed attendees to “experience the synergy of Toshiba solutions offered by both companies.” It also allowed for an event lineup that featured some impressive speakers and entertainment — including keynote speakers James Carville and Mary Matalin (who got in the classic quote “If you have ADHD and are over 30 and like a glass of wine you probably shouldn’t have a Twitter account” — oops) and closing-night entertainers The B-52s.

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MccabeGetting down to business, however, were the keynote and breakout sessions. These included company updates from Scott Maccabe, president and CEO of both TGCS and TABS, who discussed the new MFPs, which represent a total refresh of Toshiba’s hardware lineup; TABS’ digital signage, which has been an important part of the company’s focus for the last couple of years; and the integration between that lineup and TGCS’ point-of-sale technologies.

Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing Joe Contreras and Chief Marketing Officer Bill Melo reinforced the importance of the new hardware for TABS and its dealers — key for both the assembled dealers and more than 500 end users. In fact, the combined meetings plus record number of end users led to the largest-ever LEAD event.

The new hardware was definitely the star of the show — the new MFP lineup includes two e-STUDIO2500AC series models, five e-STUDIO5005AC series models and six e-STUDIO7506AC series models on the color end, and six e-STUDIO5008A series models and four e-STUDIO8508A series models on the monochrome end — a total of 13 color models and 10 monochrome models, all of which will ship by this summer.

The devices offer a number of new features, but one of the most notable and often remarked on was their looks. They are matte black with tablet-style user interfaces, and they looked sharp. More than that, though, they offer a number of new features including a new Intel processor, a dual-scan document feeder that delivers up to 240 images per minute, and the included Embedded Application Platform that allows the MFPs to embed third-party applications or connect to the cloud — something we are seeing as essentially expected in today’s market.

The breakout sessions at the conference reinforced this need. Included in the lineup was Business Process Automation: Simplify Your Workflow” by Lexmark’s Phil Boatman — Lexmark, a longtime Toshiba partner, was the event’s title sponsor. Also speaking to the changing nature of the MFP was “Gain Control of Document Workflows and Security Challenges” by Nuance’s Chris Strammiello. While this topic is of paramount importance in today’s connected environment, the significance of the integration with Nuance was reinforced when TABS and Nuance announced a multi-year strategic partnership that allows Toshiba to sell and distribute Nuance’s AutoStore and Equitrac document solutions through both Toshiba’s independent dealer network and direct sales operations. According to the announcement, “the Nuance/Toshiba collaboration will enable current and future e-STUDIO multifunction products (MFPs) to offer front panel integration with the two flagship Nuance offerings providing Toshiba customers with unparalleled productivity, efficiency and security.”    

The Nuance Equitrac offering will be part of an integration in a vertical market control panel specific to education — one of several customized templates that will be available for a number of markets, that also include health care and finance. Toshiba will be providing training for its dealers on each vertical, providing them with certifications.

Proving that style is nothing without substance, Toshiba’s 2016 event included record attendance and stylish new machines, and backed them up with technology, customization and training that will serve its dealers well in the coming year. We look forward to seeing the future implementation of some of TABS’ announcements, the performance of the new devices, and how the company plans to top the event in 2017.

Patricia Ames
Patricia Ames

is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com.