Business Sustainability is Not a Tick Box Exercise

Businesses in every sector are having to make tough decisions at the moment, and interest in sustainability, like the planet, is heating up

All of us – consumers, businesses, organisations and governments – are starting to pay greater attention to the effects of our activities on the earth’s climate.

Environmental issues are becoming a bigger factor in our buying decisions, recycling is starting to take hold at a consumer level, and a growing market is emerging in refurbished smartphones and pre-used clothes.

With the majority of countries enforcing a ‘lockdown’ on its citizens, the demand for technology to enable employees to work remotely from home has boomed.

With this change, one tough decision businesses are facing is whether to make a huge up-front investment in IT assets to future proof their business and make workforces ultra-mobile, or to lease IT assets and manage their use and lifecycle when a sense of ‘normality’ returns?

At a time when most businesses are trying to survive, the decision to make a huge up-front investment seems counter-intuitive. However, leasing IT assets to move a previously static workforce to being mobile/ remote brings its own set of challenges.

IT leaders are getting to grips with how to avoid having recently purchased or leased IT assets falling into disuse. This means that they have to be able to accurately track devices to ensure that new devices are kept up to date, regularly refreshed and secure for a mobile workforce.

Alongside this, they are also having to manage the secure and sustainable disposal of aging or obsolete IT assets without sending lots of harmful e-waste to landfill.

Sustainability has historically been viewed as a linear process but, in reality, it is circular and asset disposal is merely a part of that cycle.

Most businesses today are beginning at the end of the process because, for many of them, asset disposal is the process. There’s no doubt asset disposal is a valuable service for organisations, particularly from a security perspective.

But while the safe and secure disposal of ageing IT equipment is a major priority for many businesses, the potential reuse of that equipment has often been an afterthought or an aside.

So, if there’s more to sustainability than asset disposition, what else does it include?

The future of IT Asset Management

Changes in how the business community operates in the future, must be made for the sustainability of our planet. IT managers should be given the tools necessary to get maximum value and return for any investment and still reduce the businesses environmental footprint.

It is encouraging to see that sustainable asset management is becoming a driver for purchase decisions and that businesses are realising sustainable IT asset management should cover the entire lifecycle of the equipment – from the manufacture, acquisition and management of that asset to its disposal and reuse.

The option to finance or lease IT assets makes it easier for a business to choose technology based on the sustainability of the equipment rather than its short-term value.

It also provides the flexibility that companies need to address the distinct lifecycle requirements of different devices, for example the two-year lifespan for smartphones compared to three years for a laptop.

Effective asset management is an important element of the sustainability story because it gives a business a clearer understanding of the use of the asset, where it resides, the associated costs and when it will need to be replaced. In turn, this helps to put in place a much more efficient regime for the disposal of that asset and a greater awareness of its potential for reuse.

Sustainability every step of the way

Businesses should start looking to the future and to implementing a seamless sustainability model that connects the three elements of sustainable technology lifecycle management – acquire, manage, refresh. Adopting a joined-up approach ensures each stage informs the next.

Sustainability should cover the entire lifecycle of the equipment – from the manufacture, acquisition and management of that asset to its disposal and reuse. Sustainability may not appear to be a major factor in the lifecycle management of that asset today, but it will increasingly become so.

A circular approach to IT asset management, rather than linear, means that sustainable practices can be engaged at any stage of the process, and customers can work their way backwards or forwards from that point.

Integrating the three stages of sustainable technology lifecycle management ensures the information from each is not fragmented across different providers or delivered in a piecemeal fashion, but as part of, to all intents and purposes, a virtuous circle.

As a result, this provides IT and Asset Managers with a much clearer view of the lifecycle of the asset and its true cost of ownership.

About the Author

Carmen Ene is CEO at 3stepIT. 3stepIT is an IT services company: We offer IT life cycle management services to help our clients acquire IT equipment (especially IT devices, like laptops, desktops & smartphones), to manage them in use, and then to refresh them after a planned life. More: