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CEO Spotlight
May 2003

Michael Durance, VP & general mgr, ToshibaIn the CEO Spotlight section in Internet Telephony� magazine, we recognize the outstanding work performed by exemplary companies. Each month we bring you the opinions of the heads of companies leading the Internet telephony industry now and helping to shape the future of the industry. This month, we interviewed Michael Durance, vice president and general manager of Toshiba Telecommunication Systems Division.

IT: What is your company�s mission?
MD: Toshiba Telecommunication Systems Division is committed to delivering the industry�s highest quality business communication systems with best in class migration, modularity, quality, and reliability. By bringing together a comprehensive feature-rich suite of communication solutions with emerging technologies such as IP and Voice/Data Mobility, Toshiba�s solutions promise investment protection for the small and medium-sized enterprise market through its unmatched migration path and the industry�s only seven-year extended warranty.

IT: How is your company faring in the down economy, and what are you doing to be successful?
MD: We at Toshiba have decided to take advantage of the down economy. This is in stark contrast to many other manufacturers and vendors who are pulling back on service and losing market share, with some even leaving the market altogether or going out of business. We see this as a tremendous opportunity at Toshiba, and we�re investing significantly in people, technology, product development, services, our channel of authorized Toshiba dealers, and much more. In fact, for 2002, our spending is up about 10 percent over the previous year. Our investment is paying off. Toshiba has had a 21 percent increase in sales in our last fiscal period over the previous fiscal period, and we�re gaining in market share. We may be the only player actually hiring employees and expanding channel programs right now.

IT: What is your vision of the future of the IP telephony industry?
MD: We believe that technology will continue to evolve and mature as a necessary enabler for the convergence of voice and data. We plan to continue to evolve our product line to deliver on the value set enabled through emerging technologies such as IP and Voice/Data Mobility. Ultimately, we will merge the best of our traditional and open platform systems into a fully converged voice/data true IP solution with seamless wireline/wireless capability, unbeatable flexibility in call handling, and comprehensive legacy support. The key is to not force IP down the customers� throats but rather to focus on delivering on the �promise� of IP to the enterprise (multi-media rich applications and the distributed enterprise concept) through a highly adaptable, cost-effective, blended communication solution.

IT: What in your opinion is the most pressing issue facing our industry today?
MD: The most pressing issue facing small to medium-sized enterprises today is the decision whether to buy an IP-PBX or a traditional TDM-based telephone system. There are certainly pros and cons of going either way. For example, an IP-PBX provides tremendous flexibility, infrastructure savings, and reduction or elimination of long distance charges, but it simply does not have the proven reliability of a traditional TDM system. Conversely, while they are durable workhorses, traditional TDM systems may not have the flexibility and scalability of an IP-PBX. The decision-making is further exacerbated by the fact that the channel has been very split on recommendations. Data vendors push IP-PBX systems, while interconnects typically focus on TDM systems.

IT: What is your recommendation to alleviate such a problem?
MD: At Toshiba, we believe the answer is to solve today�s problems with flexible solutions that also have the capability of solving the problems of the future. An IP-enabled TDM-based solution with a sensible migration path to full IP when and where customers want to deploy it makes the most sense. Our customers don�t want to forklift their existing systems to move to an IP-PBX, but rather want to add IP capabilities to their existing Toshiba system. Toshiba has IP-enabled its two best-selling product lines -- the Strata CTX family of digital business communications systems and the Strata CS line of communication server-based systems. By IP-enabling our traditional products, we give our users the best of both worlds.

IT: What makes your products and services unique and how can the IP telephony industry benefit by using them?
MD: Toshiba�s migration path is legendary. Since the Telecommunication Systems Division was founded nearly 30 years ago, we�ve kept our promise of helping our customers retain the investment in their systems by providing a smooth migration path. Today, that path includes IP enabling their Toshiba Strata CTX and Strata CS systems. In the future, it will mean providing a path to our new pure IP platform. The users can decide how and where they want to deploy IP whether it be to support a remote location, a larger community of interest, or their entire enterprise.

IT: What is your philosophy toward customers?
MD: We believe enterprises shouldn�t have to adapt to technology, rather technology should adapt to the needs of enterprises. We are committed to delivering on real customer value and we do this by developing and packaging emerging technologies into communication solutions, which allow enterprises to be more cost-effective, more competitive, more connected to their customers, vendors, and each other.

IT: What kind of telephone system does your company use and does it include IP telephony?
MD: We use our IP-enabled Toshiba Strata CTX solution. This is gives us high reliability and IP capability. We use our IP telephones internally as well as a remote location solution.

[ Return To The May 2003 Table Of Contents ]

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