Vendors that offer “green” computing products and practices are seeing significant uptick in customer interest, and IT solution providers are reporting that some customers are already using green criteria in procurement processes for their technology investments. Eddie O’Brien, Microsoft vice president, U.S. OEM, offers tips on how to position your business to reap some green rewards. — Jennifer Bosavage, editor
IT solution providers can take advantage of the green tech movement by promoting refurbished equipment. By providing IT asset management services to customers, particularly when PCs are retired within an optimal timeframe, can help reduce landfill waste, reduce costs of buying equipment and become a trusted source for "green" products and services.
Customer concern about environmental issues is one leading trend that creates significant enterprise demand for vendors that offer “green” computing products and practices. Businesses with elevated environmental consciousness – or that serve customers with these same concerns – are increasingly using green criteria in procurement processes for their technology investments.
By actively monitoring and understanding relevant marketplace trends, such as eco initiatives, system builders can align their offerings with customers’ critical needs and drive a conversation that establishes a deliberate connection between customer objectives and technology.
Environmental Consciousness Drives Demand and Dialogue
In the context of environmental awareness, system builders should identify their customers’ degree of concern and commitment to the issue and recommend solutions that are in direct proportion to both those concerns and their business objectives.
Aging IT assets represents an ongoing dilemma related to sustainability – they are a nuisance for customers and the cost of decommissioning and recycling old PCs can be a contributing factor to delays in the hardware refresh sales cycle. Data security is almost always a chief concern, but customers may also need to comply with corporate policies or legislative mandates around environmentally sustainable business practices.
Fortunately, infrastructure is available to assist system builders in selling to customers on the basis of environmental benefits. The Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) and Microsoft Registered Refurbisher (RRP) programs, provide a process in which participating system builders can create new lines of business and mutually beneficial relationships with customers who are looking to securely decommission older PCs and keep them out of the waste stream as long as possible.
The refurbishing programs offer specially priced Microsoft licenses for refurbished computers with a previous Windows operating system certificate of authenticity (COA) affixed to the equipment. By becoming an RRP member, and refurbishing the pre-owned computers, system builders are able to provide a valuable service to customers and build new revenue streams in secondary markets with a product that is environmentally sound and profitable. For those system builders who determine refurbishing isn’t a fit for their organization, many still choose to establish relationships with MAR partners that do refurbish in the interest of being able to ultimately meet their customers’ environmental interests.
Other technology leaders have noticed the trend and moved toward standardizing how and when products and services can be marketed as “sustainable.” An example of such a standard is Underwriter Laboratories’ Sustainable Product Certification (SPC). Manufacturers of sustainable products can now work with this leader in standards, development, and testing to meet the requirements of SPC and certify that their production processes use environmentally preferred materials. Being able to certify your products through this trusted and netural authority lend credibility to your solutions, provide a reliable point of comparison with other vendor environmental practices, and help differentiate against those competitors.
Sustainable IT benefits the entire ecosystem
Tens of millions of used computers, laptops, and servers that could be reused are discarded each year by businesses, individuals, and organizations. Many customers understand that this is a valid, global issue; yet, they are unsure how to drive change at the corporate level. By utilizing asset management and refurbishing services from trusted system builders and other IT services providers, customers can align themselves with the expectations of their customer base, often realizing cost savings and even revenue. System builders can build on this need to refurbish machines by providing IT asset management services to customers, particularly when PCs are retired within an optimal timeframe.
A leading pharmaceutical company recently recognized both the technical and financial benefits to refurbishing through PlanITROI, a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher partner. The pharmaceutical company generated $1.8 million in asset recovery over a two-year period of time. PlanITROI has built revenue streams by providing refurbishment and other services related to the lifecycle of IT assets. PlanlTROI’s work generated revenue for both organizations because its refurbishment process adds value to the remarketed recovered assets through a warranty and a preinstalled Windows license.
That leading pharmaceutical company is just one example of an increasing number of enterprises that have adopted green policies and proactively sought similarly green practices from IT vendors. In the current refresh cycle, system builders should also be proactive in broaching the topic of green solutions with their customers. Those trend-driven, consultative conversations with customers will likely reveal that environmental consciousness is a significant and enduring priority. A strong eco-minded infrastructure, like the MAR program, enables a system builder to respond to customers’ green requirements efficiently and demonstrate that its range of technology solutions respects and reflects evolving corporate and global priorities.