New beginnings

It has been just over a year since Toshiba Client Solutions Europe rebranded to dynabook Europe. PCR talks to Nick Offin, head of sales, marketing and operations, Dynabook Northern Europe about how the company is supporting channel partners for the new normal whilst leaning on its rich heritage to continue developing innovative products and services

 Tell us a bit about the rebranding to Dynabook Europe from Toshiba Client Solutions Europe? What was the strategy behind this and the new company ethos?
In October 2018, the Toshiba Client Solutions global business was acquired by Sharp Corporation. We saw this as an opportunity to take Toshiba’s heritage and Sharp’s scale and start fresh.

The dynabook brand has existed for 35 years in Japan, but it has remained fairly unknown outside of the region. As an industry leader, Toshiba launched the world’s first laptop computer – the T1100 in 1985 – and followed it up with the world’s first notebook computer – the dynabook J-3100 SS001 in 1989.

By rebranding to Dynabook Europe, we mark the beginning of our new ethos as an exciting autonomous business, while also bringing together the joint value propositions of our parent companies, epitomising our rich heritage while representing renewed innovation, investment and scale.

What does this shift offer in terms of new services, tools and processes?
A key focus for us since the rebrand has been to adapt our channel partner program in terms of evolving it, re-establishing it, rebranding it, and relaunching it – while at the same time staying true to our 35 years of heritage. We’ve also looked at personalising and tailoring a specific service to our channel partners to help them grow their business.

One of the great things about us as a business is that we are 100 per cent channel-focused. We have always sold 100 per cent through the channel and we continue to do so, which is a very strong aspect of our partner program.

We’ve also considered how we become more relevant with our program by making it fully available online and accessible via multiple platforms. This ensures we’re facilitating opportunities and, above all else, simply making it easier for new and existing partners to do business with us and making sure they feel confident in doing so.

How has the company’s personal partner program been designed to maximise opportunities for partners?
At dynabook, we are working towards building a very personal program, so it looks like an individual design for specific partners but underpinned with some broader pieces.

One of the key things that sits behind that is an online deal registration tool, which gives partners the assurance that if they bring an opportunity to us it is fully protected. We also want to reward partners who bring leads early in the sales cycle with additional commercial support.

That gives them access to work exclusively with our end customer sales team, so they can have a joint approach if they desire. They also benefit from access to product specialists and loan units, and then behind that we’re offering a range of other options including services and extended warranty, which allow partners to maximise their revenue and margin opportunity with that particular customer.

We have also launched ‘dynabook Rewards’, which – as the name suggests – rewards sales teams for their performance with money in their pocket, loaded onto a Visa Card that can be used anywhere, just like a normal card. There are also over 50 retailers in the UK participating in the rewards card program which entitles users to get three per cent cashback with dynabook also covering all tax & NI contributions, when using the card. This is a new incentive within the program and only recently rolled-out, which covers the majority of our range.

Finally, we’re also making a lot more collateral and media available which partners can tailor and use in their own marketing – including product videos and imagery, as well as cheat sheets. This is especially useful in this ‘new normal’ of the past few months, where salespeople can’t work in the traditional face-to-face, in-person manner they are used to. We’re giving them access to a wide range of online tools to help overcome this challenge.

 How has the demand of products changed over the last few months and how has dynabook helped partners serve their customers during this time?
We have seen a strong demand for our mobility products, which has clearly been accelerated further in the last few months given the nature of COVID-19 and its impact on the way people are working. We have been able to support partners not only because we held some good inventory in the country, but also through our diverse product offering which allows us to support partners with the flexibility to address the requirements of a wide range of customers, and meet the spike in demand. To give just a couple of examples, we have recently launched the Portégé X30L – the world’s lightest 13.3” device, as well as the Satellite Pro C50, a device designed for the education and SMB markets.

It’s now essential that we maintain that dialogue and accessibility for partners. For resellers it is about ensuring their offering matches up with the needs of customers, regardless of sector – that means addressing ongoing security, connectivity and mobility needs, and we are confident our portfolio matches this requirement.

How has the past year been for dynabook?
It has been a really exciting year, especially in making this transition as a 35-year-old business under the Toshiba brand. The new dynabook brand represents a dynamic new opportunity for us in terms of how we communicate that rebrand to the partner base.

We have a core set of partners who we’ve worked closely with over the last couple of years, but now under the new brand we’re reaching out to more partners than ever before with our personalised program.

We’re also pushing out some innovative new technology platforms as well, through which we’re engaging with some other types of partners – the likes of which we traditionally might otherwise not have been involved with.

How has the Coronavirus impacted business for dynabook?
We’ve been fortunate to benefit from a strong demand for our mobility products in recent months due to the rapid transition of people having to work remotely. This was especially true at the start of the pandemic, at which time we saw a significant increase in demand for our mobile devices. Due to our diverse product offering, we were able to manage this and ensure our partners had the support they needed to serve their customers.

We’ve also been contributing to some large-scale projects during these unprecedented times. Something that we are incredibly proud of is our involvement with the Department for Education’s (DfE) “laptops for schools” program. This fantastic project involved providing over 200,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children so that they can have uninterrupted and reliable access to learning during the pandemic, no matter their location. The education sector has always been part of our heritage, but this has become more of a focus during the current crisis.

How is the company coping with the crisis?
We’re fortunate that dynabook naturally sits within the mobility sector, which has been at the forefront of the shift to this “new normal” of remote working during the pandemic.

How are you finding your partners coping with business during Coronavirus and what are the market conditions?
Partners who have adapted to the new market conditions have performed well. However, it is has created new difficulties in terms of reaching customers, and it is difficult to predict whether we’ll ever return to the normal working environment before the pandemic started. This is in part why we’ve sought to adapt our own channel program and make it more accessible online and via multiple platforms.

We do expect the high demand for mobility and associated hardware and software solutions to continue as remote working becomes the new normal, so in that sense the market remains in a strong place.

Has there been any supply issues? If so how is the company coping with demand?
Although it naturally took some time for the supply chain to recover from the initial impact of the pandemic, we’ve generally not experienced any major supply issues. There were, for example, some limitations with airfreight from China, as capacity was greatly reduced and understandably prioritised for essential medical equipment. However as mentioned earlier, we were fortunately able to manage this period due to our diverse product portfolio.

What projects is the company working on at the moment?
We are working on increasing our product offering for the latter part of this year by expanding our ranges within the mobility sector. We are also seeing several projects come to fruition involving our dynaEdge DE-100 assisted reality smart glasses and mobile edge computing solution, which has become increasingly popular with organisations who require remote diagnostics capabilities.

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