As it has been a very busy and exciting year at Toshiba TEC, I’d like to review the last 12 months as well as touching on some of the key developments I expect in the world of print, document management and solutions in 2018.
The trend towards diversification came of age in 2017 and it is now clear that manufacturers who are unwilling and/or unable to shift their mindsets away from the commoditisation of hardware or a ‘box shifting’ sales focus are beginning to struggle. Conversely, those like Toshiba who are addressing businesses’ processes and strategic objectives through software, consultancy and non-product led engagements are seeing real benefit.
That’s not to say that developing innovative products – which continue to mirror changes in end-user demands, ensure maximum return on investment, and are as secure and sustainable as possible – is not essential. Quite the contrary and our innovative Hybrid MFP is an excellent case in point.
This year saw the release of our Hybrid MFP – the latest incarnation of our erasable printing technology. ‘Hybrid’ because it operates as a standard mono MFP for ‘normal’ use as well as supporting erasable printing allowing the reuse of paper. I believe this product is a valuable evolution in print technology that responds to user demand for both greener printing technologies and flexible workflows. Whilst there’s a fantastic array of software solutions on offer that reduce unnecessary printing, the Hybrid MFP provides ecological and economical benefits in situations where printing is either preferable or simply necessary. This technology is pioneering a new approach to how future print products of all varieties (I hope) will be designed, built and utilised.
To my delight, the Hybrid MFP has been recognised as such – within and outside of our industry. As well as receiving extensive coverage in the trade press, it was recently shortlisted for Building Technology of the Year at the Business Green Technology Awards 2017 as well as in four(!) categories at the 2017 V3 Technology Awards. Not only do these achievements highlight how seriously sustainable print and document management are being taken by organisations across multiple sectors, it also indicates that Toshiba TEC’s focus on this issue forms part of the current zeitgeist and marks the company out as a true industry trailblazer.
Talking of which, our Carbon Zero initiative – another industry first when it launched in 2009 – continues to go from strength to strength. The scheme offsets the CO2 generated from parts procurement and manufacture of devices through to delivery to the customer, meaning that all of our products are delivered Carbon Neutral. All the carbon emissions are offset by CO2Balance through projects that benefit the lives of people in developing countries. I am proud to say that environmental protection will continue to be at the heart of our own business as well as our proposition to clients throughout 2018 as we undertake further environmental audits and meet the recognised standards, such as the BSI’s carbon neutrality standard (PAS 2060).
2017 has been a great year for both our Direct and Indirect sales channels. I want to congratulate our Direct Sales team on becoming the industry leaders in ethical sales (100% of our team have passed the Association of Professional Sales’ registration exam) whilst maintaining an exceptional sales record throughout the year.
Our annual dealer conference brought together our MFP, barcode and digital signage partners at the same event for the first time — providing a great opportunity to meet new faces and network. The event covered a range of issues beyond the product sphere including workplace mental health, and training and skills development, the latter of which focused on a specialised master’s degree that we have developed with Consalia – the MSc in Professional Practice in Leading Sales Transformation.
We are always looking for new ways to help our channel partners improve their sales strategies, better connect with their customers, build a stronger brand and create long-term growth. To that end, look out for more information from Carl Day, Toshiba TEC’s Sales Director Indirect Division), who is getting ready to publish a series of blogs about our Authorised Business Partner initiative, which provides our partners with a unique edge in an increasingly competitive sector.
So what will be the key factors in 2018? In my opinion, the continued expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) – into data and document focused processes that automate repetitive tasks, glean intelligence and remove the burden from skilled workers so that they can better contribute the development of their businesses – will continue apace.
Then, of course, there’s the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May 2018. It requires an organisation that operates in the European Union (EU) – or handles the personal data of people that reside in the EU – to implement a strong data protection policy; encompassing access, secure storage, management and destruction of personal data. I think there are more opportunities than there are threats to the document management industry in this piece of legislation. After all, manufacturers (such as Toshiba) who offer a diverse solutions-lead portfolio can form a vital part of any company’s GDPR compliance journey.
So with 2018 shaping up to be just as interesting and exciting as 2017, it leaves me to wish you all the best for the year ahead – I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!
Jeremy Spencer, Marketing Director