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Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions: Advancing the Future of Retail



Founded nearly a decade ago, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions is well poised for what’s next in retail in a post-pandemic world. The company has rapidly evolved from a point of sale (POS) system manufacturer into an end-to-end solutions provider and strategic partner for digital transformation, serving the largest and most successful retailers in the world, including half of the top 25 global retail brands.

Originally known as the IBM Retail Store Solutions division, the company was acquired by Toshiba Tec in 2012. As part of the Toshiba family of companies, it continues to expand its advanced capabilities, helping retailers develop, trial, and deploy new personalized services for consumers, reduce cost from inefficient processes and systems, and scale to meet demand.

Toshiba continues to make focused and significant investments in innovation. One of its most important innovations is ELERA, the modular, cloud-based, unified retail commerce platform that is becoming the foundation for retail digital transformation. It is also developing, smarter, more advanced self-service systems, and expanding its proactive availability services that play a key role in anticipating, diagnosing, and resolving IT issues.

We, at Insights Success, caught up with Rance Poehler, the President & CEO of the company, to know more about the company and how it has become the leading supplier of POS systems.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please list the popular services that make your company standout from the competition.

There are three major differentiators in our offerings:

ELERA, the modular, cloud-based, microservices unified commerce platform that will play a key role in helping retailers accelerate their digital transformation and ultimately become more resilient and agile.

Proactive availability services enable us to stay on top—and ahead—of issues by remotely monitoring, diagnosing, and resolving them.

Wall-to-wall service provided by more than 1,000 field technicians that support literally everything that is plugged in within a store, including systems and equipment from other vendors. The rapid proliferation of complex networks of smart devices with IoT capabilities within stores, demand high availability and reliability. With so much complexity, our customers need their services and support to be simpler and prefer to have one proven vendor to rely on and hold accountable.

As a business leader, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Information Technology & Services Industry?

Today, the bar is higher than ever for retail IT providers. As one of our large grocery retail customers put it, “This isn’t business as usual. People are depending on us in ways they never have before. We saved lives during COVID.”

We saw first-hand how the pandemic accelerated the shift to digital commerce by at least five years. As the country started to shut down, we ramped up quickly—with more than a thousand field service IT specialists working around the clock to keep stores running during the pandemic. It wasn’t just about keeping our customers up and running, it was also about helping them address the massive spikes in demand for online ordering, curbside pickup, delivery, and other services.

What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?

Empowered people are at the heart of a dynamic, positive company culture. Empowerment means that anyone within the company—regardless of their position, education, or skill level—is encouraged to identify opportunities to help the company grow, solve problems, and improve teamwork.

Our approach is to break down silos, encourage collaboration and foster an entrepreneurial mindset. When teams from different areas come together, they learn about each other’s challenges, build empathy, and ultimately come up with ideas they never thought possible. We’ve seen the impact of this across the company, whether it’s creating new ways to serve customers, creating training programs for new products, or finding ways to bring in new talent.

What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to Digital Transformation? How do you enable digital transformation and provide end-to-end solutions for retailers?

It’s a tall order for many technology companies—not all have the depth and breadth to take this on.

Digital transformation is the path to becoming more resilient, agile, and ultimately future-proof. The process starts with modernizing the commerce foundation, moving away from decades-old, monolithic POS toward a modular approach that enables incremental innovation at a speed the works best for each retailer.

ELERA, the unified commerce platform we introduced earlier this year, is a game-changer. It’s already accelerating transformation. It enables retailers to do things they’ve long wanted to do—speed the development and deployment of customized services, trial new offers and programs, iterate them quickly, then roll them out at scale. They can also merge their physical stores and digital commerce channels to aggregate data from different applications and systems to establish one source of customer data, using advanced technologies like AI to provide insight into customer behavior.

Every state-of-the-art retail solution we’re building will run on ELERA. That includes VR/AR self-service solutions, smart, AI-enabled edge cameras, and computer vision to better address loss prevention and speed up self-checkout. The advantage of being ELERA-powered means that the data collected by these systems can be shared with other applications and services across the entire physical and digital store environment. It’s the path to a more compelling and cohesive customer experience and to more efficiency and reduced operating costs.

In what ways is Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions contributing to the community?

When I came on board in November of last year, one of the things I was most excited about was increasing investment in community initiatives. An example of that is an internship program we’re piloting that creates economic opportunity through partnership with community college and vocational programs. It includes in-depth training and pays for the final year of tuition. Rising student debt is a huge issue. We can play an important role in helping alleviate that burden as well as offer graduates an exciting career path.

We’re also developing new corporate level programs that support our nation’s veterans and frontline workers, as well as empowering our employee resource groups across the company to support local organizations that are important to their communities.

How do you envision sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

It’s an incredibly exciting time for us! We’re experiencing something that is rare in the life of a technology company. With the ELERA unified commerce platform and smart end-to-end solutions backed up by wall-to-wall and proactive availability services, we have the right technology, the right solutions, and the right strategy, at the right time for our customers—now and for the future.

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Bank of England raises base interest rate to 1.75%



The Bank of England has raised the base interest rate by half a percentage point to 1.75 per cent, the biggest rise since 1995, in an attempt to combat runaway inflation.

The nine-strong monetary policy committee voted eight to one in favour of a 50 basis point rise, defying some market expectations for an increase by 25 basis points.

It is the Bank’s sixth consecutive tightening in monetary policy and follows in the footsteps of the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, which have begun aggressively raising rates by larger increments.

Interest rates are now the highest since 2009 as the Bank attempts to bring down inflation, which is running at a 40-year high of 9.4 per cent and is on course to exceed 11 per cent later this year.

These would be the worst inflation rates in the G7, caused in large part by rising global energy prices driving household bills higher this year. The UK economy is also heading for a slowdown this year as consumer incomes are squeezed more tightly than since the 1950s.

Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s governor, has hinted that it will also announce how it intends to begin unwinding the £850 billion of government debt pumped into the economy since the financial crisis, offloading bonds worth between £50 billion and £100 billion from as early as next month.

The Bank will also deliver its quarterly outlook, with Bailey expected to forecast that inflation will rise beyond 11 per cent and remain in double digits into next year. The Bank’s target is 2 per cent.

Commenting on today’s Bank of England interest rate rise, David Bharier, Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “This rise is the clearest signal yet of the Bank of England’s intention to get inflation under control. Spiralling prices are cited by businesses as by far and away the top concern right now.

“However, given the extremely precarious state of the economy, this decision is not without risk for businesses and consumers that are exposed to banking or overdraft facilities.

“There are many causes of the current inflation crisis – global supply chain problems, trade barriers, soaring energy costs, increased taxes, and labour market shortages. Interest rate rises alone will do little to address these.

“Worryingly, our research indicates strongly that most small businesses are not investing for growth, and that longer-term confidence is beginning to wane.

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Opinion: OSC appointment fuss is a tempest in a teapot



Jeffrey MacIntosh: The government has the legislated right to have a say in the agency’s course

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Ed Waitzer’s recent op-ed (“The issue at the OSC is integrity, not debate,” July 14, 2022) expresses surprise and disappointment in my recent op-ed (“Conflict at the OSC: Why the regulator needs to make room for dissent,” July 7, 2022). In that op-ed, I argued that lawyer Heather Zordel’s appointment as non-executive chair of the OSC in March of this year should be met with open arms, as it introduces new points of view into what seems to be a rather intellectually closed shop. I don’t suppose it will come as a shock to Ed Waitzer or anyone else that I am surprised and disappointed at his rebuttal.

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To begin with, it contains a number of inaccuracies. It states that Ms. Zordel was denied reappointment to her earlier position (2019-2021) as part-time commissioner. In fact, given her busy legal practice, she took herself out of the running. This puts a rather different complexion on the matter.

And I never stated or implied that Ms. Zordel was not reappointed as part-time commissioner because of two dissenting opinions that she wrote as commissioner. My point was that for Ms. Zordel’s critics the dissents were a factor in opposing her appointment as chair of the board.

The nub of my argument was that the OSC could benefit from greater variety of viewpoints among its brass as to what investor protection and other aspects of the OSC’s mission entail. By contrast, Mr. Waitzer argues: “the importance of debate and dissent is not the point here.” I beg to differ. As I indicated, some prominent accounts of Ms. Zordel’s appointment have put a pejorative cast on her disagreements with her fellow commissioners. That puts the issue of debate and dissent front and centre.

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I certainly agree with Mr. Waitzer that the independence of administrative agencies is a cornerstone of our democracy. But does that mean that every administrative agency should be entirely divorced from any government oversight whatsoever — a little fiefdom unto itself and in no sense answerable to its political masters? Not a whit. It is the government that creates the agency, defines its mandate, gives it the powers that it needs to carry out that mandate and defines its organizational structure. And it is entirely within the purview of the government to enlist its legislative power to re-define that mandate, powers, and organizational structure if it chooses.

We don’t have to look into the distant past to find an example. On the advice of a non-partisan blue ribbon panel — the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce (“CMMT”) — the Conservative government has recently substantially reorganized the OSC via the Securities Commission Act, 2021 (declared in force in April). That legislation splits the adjudicative function (the “Capital Markets Tribunal”) from the regulatory function. Moreover, where before the reorganization the OSC Chair and CEO were the same person, the two offices are now split. As expressed by the CMMT, “The Board of Directors, led by the Chair, (will) focus on the strategic oversight and corporate governance of the regulator,” while “The CEO (will) be responsible for the overall management of the organization and execution of the OSC’s mandate.” The directors, including the chair, are all government appointees.

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This new structure, recommended by a non-partisan committee, gives the government of the day the power to influence, at the highest level, the strategic direction of the OSC. But why should it not? If the government is dissatisfied with the strategic vision or regulatory philosophy of the regulator or the manner in which it is being implemented, it would be profoundly anti-democratic — and at odds with the rule of law — to forbid the government from seeking to alter the agency’s course.

Indeed, the Ontario Securities Act states “The Commission is an agent of the Crown in right of Ontario.” The key word here is “agent.” It is not “hegemony,” “fiefdom” or “satrapy.” At the end of the day, the OSC is a government creation performing regulatory functions ceded to it by the government.

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Do Ms. Zordel’s conservative connections compromise the independence of the institution of which she is now head? Absolutely not. In the making of such appointments, the twin issues of competence and integrity will take up a lot of shelf space. But why should the government not also consider, if it chooses, whether potential nominees share the government’s regulatory philosophy

The true worry about political interference is that the government might attempt to dictate or influence the result of particular cases. But the new legislation builds in the important protection of ceding no operational powers to the board of directors. Thus, aside from the government’s power to approve or decline proposed rule changes (a longstanding feature of securities regulation), its sole discretionary avenue of influence lies in its power to appoint directors and hence influence high-level strategic direction.

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What is left of the argument that there has been inappropriate political interference over the OSC? Only the assertion that Ms. Zordel and three other part-time commissioners were appointed without the government having consulted the OSC, as has customarily been done. Yes, it would have been better if the government had consulted the OSC. In all likelihood, however, the outcome would have been the same. The OSC might not like not having been consulted but at best this is a foible not a fiasco.

In the end, this tempest easily fits within a standard-issue teapot.

Financial Post

Jeffrey MacIntosh is a professor of law at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and a director of the Canadian Securities Exchange.



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