Toshiba's IoT dream - interview with Neil Bramley

PCR asks Northern Europe B2B PC business unit director unit director Neil Bramley how Toshiba is realigning its business
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What changes is Toshiba making?

We are reorganising our focus into certain business segments, getting closer to the customer and have a better understanding of their needs, particularly with the advent of new technologies and Internet of Things (IoT) implementations. 

We’ve introduced turnkey solutions we can develop for the customer and drive demand for our channel partners. About six months ago, we doubled our range of B2B PCs and notebooks, increasing our offering in the mid-area of mobiles. With Mobile Zero Client [which allows staff to work on the move while retaining security regulations], we’re starting to see some technology leadership through our own

R&D, engineering and manufacturing. We also have our own BIOS.

In the UK we’ve developed a new solution called Shuttle, particularly addressing the education market. It’s a management service aiding schools to move from on-premise to off-premise.

What kind of growth are you aiming for? 

We’re looking at double-digit growth, but it’s growth where we choose to focus, so corporate, government, mid-market, health and certain areas of education. 

Why are you dedicating a large part of your European sales team to working more closely with end users? 

The goal is to ensure we’re as close to the end user as possible and to understand and meet their needs. In the future context, the greater understanding of the customer needs as we transition towards IoT means that we can create and take to market the most effective ICT and IoT solutions. 

If we look at the explosive forecast around IoT platforms, there is a vast opportunity there for our channel partners and for businesses to reengineer aspects on the way in which they work.

“Our product range is wider than ever before and addresses more of the market and customer needs.”
Neil Bramley, Toshiba

What kind of IoT products and services do you have?

Zero Client in itself is completely cloud-based and we do have gateway devices planned for the future. It’s a step-change for us. It takes us out of the conventional ‘wintel’ to virtual Citrix/vmware virtualization propositions. It’s also an opportunity for new partnerships and to drive further into services and management offers.

Toshiba is also involved in a home energy management solutions project, which is at the start of its rollout now. It covers much of the UK. It’s a collaboration with other key partners and a classic representation of an IoT-type device being used in an application to increase efficiency and knowledge in the home.

Tell us about the ‘Make IT Work’ campaign.

It’s a large advertising campaign with substantial investment – well in excess of one million euros – that will be running for a considerable amount of time. It’s a part of awareness and demand generation that we’re putting in place to invest in the future of B2B. It’s across media, PR, social, above-the-line and below-the-line communications and events. 

Why should resellers get on board with Toshiba as opposed to other vendors?

We are the longest-standing mobile provider in the notebook business, we’ve been doing this longer and more consistently than anyone else, and 100 per cent with our channel partners through those 30 years. Channel partners are critical to our business – all our revenue is [made] with them.

Our product range is wider than ever before and addresses more of the market and customer needs than before. There’s an opportunity for growth in that right. We are committed to the B2B arena.

What are Toshiba’s thoughts on market consolidation and distributors buying other, smaller suppliers?

“I think it’s a natural part of business cycles,” Neil Bramley explains. “Sometimes there are periods of consolidation, but even though consolidation happens in one area of the market, new organisations and ventures are started in other areas of the market. We have an excellent relationship with our distribution partners and look forward to enjoying that as we move forward.”

Toshiba’s distributors are Westcoast, Exertis, Tech Data and Ingram Micro. It also has a distributor partner in Ireland called Micro Warehouse.

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