Toshiba brought the energy to their first dealer show since before the pandemic. Dealers, partners, and customers were brought to Las Vegas so Toshiba could showcase its latest technology and discuss its future strategy. LEAD BEYOND ‘23 had all the expected elements — a technology fair, general sessions, specialized breakout sessions, and networking opportunities galore. Beyond that was the level of enthusiasm from not only the team at Toshiba but also the dealers and vendor partners in attendance. Despite major disruptions from a massive cyberattack at the Bellagio (and MGM properties across the globe) and the general economic grumpiness currently displayed in the channel, the bonhomie was palpable. And on the last evening of the event, those good vibes led to an epic wrap-up party. I am just glad I was there!
The great rebound
As was the case with many businesses, COVID and the ensuing supply chain crisis put Toshiba in a position where it needed to make difficult decisions. “We had two choices: incur the expense to fly in product or stick with the status quo and hope for the best,” said Larry White, President and CEO of Toshiba America Business Solutions. “And hope is not a business strategy.” Toshiba chose the former option.
So, while Toshiba was able to fulfill orders while others could not, that capability came at an enormous cost. The transition to airplanes added a staggering $37.5 million in logistical costs to Toshiba’s budget. The company lost money in 2020 and 2021, and White attributes 100% of the loss to the increased supply chain costs.
The supply chain has improved since then, and so have Toshiba’s financials. According to White, the company has restored its revenues to 92% of pre-pandemic levels and returned to profitability in ‘22, growing revenue by 9% YoY and 26% between ‘20 and ‘22.
And the hot streak appears to be carrying over into 2023. According to data White presented from IDC, Toshiba recorded its highest record of market share in Q1 of ‘23. White also looked quite pleased as he told the crowd about how Toshiba just posted its best Q2 in company history.
Toshiba is still committed to print
The “Print is Dead” coalition is alive and active in the channel but the team at Toshiba couldn’t disagree more. “Despite the rise of digital technology, print remains relevant and essential to business,” White said. “And it’s a $65 billion opportunity”.
One way that Toshiba plans to improve its print position is through its manufacturing agreement with Ricoh. The collaboration should unlock manufacturing efficiencies and allow Toshiba to focus more on selling. It also provides some protection against any major future supply chain disruptions.
Another way is through its completely refreshed lineup of A3 and A4 MFPs. The new “Office Collection Three” has 19 A3 MFPs and 2 A4s, and is built with three principles in mind: security, sustainability, and cloud. The new devices come with up to 50 security features (including digital signing, self-encrypting hardware, trust platform module, and cloud-based security policy management capabilities), are Energy Star, EPEAT, and Blue Angel rated, and integrate with over 2,000 business applications out of the box.
The hardware is backstopped by Elevate Sky, an interconnected ecosystem of end-user applications, reseller tools and services, and industry-leading license and subscription management infrastructure. Elevate Sky can be broken up into four parts:
- eBridge Global Print: Cloud-based follow-me printing for Lexmark and Toshiba devices only.
- Elevate Sky Print Management: Manufacturer-agnostic cloud print management solution that supports print rules, secure print release, and more.
- Elevate Sky Translate: Translates scanned documents.
- Elevate Sky Service: A collection of eight apps that enable service providers to manage, monitor, secure, and service a fleet of MFPs.
Toshiba is not ignoring the elephant in the room — it’s diversifying to accommodate it. The strategy is simple: invest in areas that yield incremental income and require the least amount of startup costs for dealers. Toshiba presented a two-pronged approach at LEAD — launching a Solutions and Services business and a thermal printer line.
The Solutions and Services business is actually made of two components: managed print as a service (MPaaS) and software solutions and digital signage. According to White, MPaaS revenues grew by 10% last year. The company added 7,000 devices in the field in 2022, and has been adding another 1,000 devices per month since the beginning of 2023 — all while boasting a 98% retention rate. On the software solutions and digital signage side of things, Toshiba has been able to grow additive software sales that equal or even exceed the original value of the MFP itself. White says Toshiba made nearly 6,000 software transactions last year, and that revenue per transaction is increasing.
The thermal printer lineup also helps partners diversify their portfolios without having to stray too far from comfortable waters. They can sell to the same people they already work with and branch out into new fields (like healthcare, pharmacies, restaurants, and so on). While Toshiba projects the thermal market to grow by 8.1% annually, Toshiba has grown its thermal revenues by 68.7%.
New ways of selling
Bill Melo, Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Business Development at Toshiba America Business Solutions, knows a thing or two about print and selling. Toshiba wants to make it easy for its customers to do business with them. And to do so, they are focusing on two elements: SaaS and e-commerce. A proven winner in the consumer world, the SaaS model is now mainstream in the business world, too. Melo says 80% of businesses have at least one SaaS app, a number that is still growing, and that 53% of all revenue comes from subscriptions.
It’s not just how customers prefer to pay for products — it’s also about where they buy them. And these days, the where is online. “Our goal is to make ordering and implementing Toshiba software products as easy as it is to subscribe to Netflix,” said Melo. And to achieve that goal, Toshiba has conjured Elevate Sky Commerce. The platform enables dealers to create individualized websites for each customer, complete with specific products and pricing, order tracking, and so on. All orders made through the platform are automatically fulfilled by Toshiba, so partners can focus more on selling and less on logistics.
While things have been rocky, Toshiba has seemingly weathered the storm. With the supply chain mostly sorted out, new ways to buy and pay for technology, a new manufacturing alliance with Ricoh, an updated lineup of MFPs, and new products in new areas, Toshiba seems poised to take as big of a bite out of the $65 billion printing pie as possible.
Scenes from the show:
Larry White, President and CEO of Toshiba America Business Solutions.
Patricia Ames is president and 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 15 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.