In the CEO Spotlight section in Internet
Telephonyï¿½ 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 companyï¿½s mission?
MD: Toshiba Telecommunication Systems Division is committed to
delivering the industryï¿½s 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,
Toshibaï¿½s solutions promise investment protection for the small and
medium-sized enterprise market through its unmatched migration path and the
industryï¿½s 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 weï¿½re 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 weï¿½re gaining in market share. We may be the
only player actually hiring employees and expanding channel programs right
IT: What is your vision of the future of the IP telephony
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 customersï¿½
throats but rather to focus on delivering on the ï¿½promiseï¿½ of IP to the
enterprise (multi-media rich applications and the distributed enterprise
concept) through a highly adaptable, cost-effective, blended communication
IT: What in your opinion is the most pressing issue facing our
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 todayï¿½s
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 donï¿½t 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
IT: What makes your products and services unique and how can
the IP telephony industry benefit by using them?
MD: Toshibaï¿½s migration path is legendary. Since the
Telecommunication Systems Division was founded nearly 30 years ago, weï¿½ve
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 shouldnï¿½t 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.
To The May 2003 Table Of Contents ]