Toshiba to drive growth in the channel with a move to software and services

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Toshiba is moving into software and services in order to drive further growth in its business to business division. With hardware sales increasingly difficult to push, there is a growing shift from vendors to push for ‘service’ sales by expanding their offerings. Microsoft may have just jumped the fence in the opposite direction with the

Toshiba is moving into software and services in order to drive further growth in its business to business division.

With hardware sales increasingly difficult to push, there is a growing shift from vendors to push for ‘service’ sales by expanding their offerings.

Microsoft may have just jumped the fence in the opposite direction with the release of its Surface tablet, but many hardware vendors have steadily been moving towards software services in search of higher margins.

According to Toshiba’s Neil Bramley, head of B2B channel, Toshiba is in the process of making this transition too, with a view to capitalising on shifting trends in the IT industry.  This approach has been kicked off by the recent unveiling of its Smart Client Manager, powered by IBM’s Tivoli.

“That is our first ‘solution’ that goes beyond the conventional hardware offerings we have had,”  he told ChannelBiz.

“Going forward we will introduce more solutions like that, and we will develop services that the channel can take to the customer.”

This is opening up more of a route for the channel, which delivers all of Toshiba’s B2B offerings, to do more of a value ad ‘wrap around’ proposition to create a service opportunity, he says.

“That in itself will drive opportunity for the channel, not only from the hardware platform but from services and consultancy.”

“We want to provide value add beyond the hardware itself,” Bramley says

Alongside the announcement of a host of hardware products recently, including a business oriented Ultrabook with vPro, Bramley says that the firm is looking to create a more comprehensive service to end users.

Part of the reason is also due to the relative difficulty in making a buck with hardware sales these days, and this means that we can expect further software launches from Toshiba in the coming months.

“It is a very important complementary aspect to the business, we will progressively release more services and solutions as we go through this year and beyond,” says Bramley.

“We know that over a period of time hardware has been subject to a series of deflationary pressures, so the more service and solution wrap you can put around the product the more margin opportunity there is for the channel.”

If Toshiba succeeds in creating growth in this area then this is good news for the channel.  In fact Toshiba expects to see its partner base swell somewhat as a result of its move into this area.

“All of our business goes through the channel,” Bramley says. “We are absolutely committed to the channel.  We have long standing links with the channel, and a channel accreditation system in place.”

The move to this ‘convergence’ of offering different services through resellers – and supported by the likes of distributor Capstan for example – means changes to the way that partners operate.

While this means some changes to operations, Bramley says that resellers are not resistant to this as convergence has “reached a tipping point” recently.

In order to assist in the move towards to channel partners offering more varied products and services, changes will made at the partner programme in the scheduled update in the autumn.

We will be launching a new partner programme in the autumn,” he says.

“The new partner programme will offer differential, it will offer commercial engagement, marketing engagement, personnel engagement, lead generation.

Referring to the move away from its hardware core, Bramley says that the new partner programme will “also offer new specialisms”.

“It will offer specialisms by market sector, but it will also specialisms by product set, that may be different services and different solutions.”


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