by Patricia Ames
At Toshiba’s 2013 LEAD conference we heard executives speak about digital signage, plans for the future and the managed print market. After the event we sat down with Joe Contreras to dig a little deeper.
Can you explain, to begin with, exactly what digital signage is?
Digital signage is now the most compelling medium to inform, educate, and entertain people. It can be static or dynamic, be display or interactive, reach one or many. Digital signage includes indoor and outdoor displays, video walls, quick service restaurant (QSR) menu boards and interactive touch panels or kiosks. Digital signage can be used diversely in many sectors such as education, real estate, automotive, restaurants, retail outlets, sports venues and more.
Digital signage was a major focus at Toshiba’s LEAD 2013 event. Would you say it is the company’s primary focus area this year?
Digital signage is certainly a key area of growth for us in 2014 and beyond. We entered this market a little more than a year ago, and have successfully completed a number of impressive implementations including Qualcomm Stadium, The Palace at Auburn Hills, Live Nation and, most recently, BB&T Ballpark, the home of the Charlotte Knights.
At the same time, though, we are continuing to focus on developing premier color and monochrome multifunction products (MFPs) supported by managed print services (MPS) programs to meet the business objectives of our customers.
Can traditional copier dealers easily add digital signage? What sort of investment or change to their business models, if any, is required for them to move into this market?
To best assist dealers with their sales efforts, Toshiba has created Virtuoso for use in product demonstrations. This interactive kiosk showcases Toshiba’s entire product line while also demonstrating the impact of digital signage. To further assist dealers in selling digital signage, we also provide them with demo content specific to a variety of industry sectors. Dealers may purchase a Virtuoso unit in a variety of sizes and use their co-op funds so there is virtually no cost to them.
How can dealers profit from digital signage?
Toshiba has created a comprehensive and dedicated digital signage group to assist dealers in their sales and marketing efforts. This team performs all of the necessary functions including site assessments and solution designs to assist dealers in quoting digital signage solutions to their customers.
When needed by the end user, Toshiba’s digital signage team can fulfill content creation and management thus enabling dealers to sell a significant service and deliver true value. To ensure satisfaction, Toshiba works hand-in-hand with dealers and end users every step of the way. Toshiba offers its dealers a comprehensive digital signage training curriculum as well as an online community where best practices can be shared and questions may be posed and answered.
Digital signage can be seen as another move away from print. Do you feel that print is still a lucrative market? What type of investments or developments have you made in your managed print business?
Toshiba’s Ellumina brand is a perfect complement to our established print business. We engineer and develop industry-leading MFPs adopting next-generation print quality, security and eco features throughout, and we back those products up with customized MPS programs.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Toshiba’s award-winning Encompass program, we will launch Encompass X. The upcoming program will offer such feature-rich elements as real-time reporting, satellite views of customer locations, 3-D data cubes, more intuitive user interface and customizable quotes.
What other new developments might we see from Toshiba in the coming year?
Toshiba is continuing development on its digital signage offerings and will be providing dealers with more and more tools to successfully grow this new part of their business.