Okay, let’s all face it…we all have older feature phones, flip phones, smartphones, and even our beloved Blackberry devices sitting in our office drawers or stored away in boxes or elsewhere. On average, companies replace wireless devices every 2 to 3 years and it may also shock you that many have no clear plan on what to do with the old devices. It is time to get rid of that digital dust and think about incorporating a specific policy and plan for employees. A corporate sustainability program that includes policy, procedure and a plan for recycling technology devices not only benefits the environment, but may also add to your operating bottom line as device buyback programs can provide for hefty financial benefits if performed properly.
As a CIO or CTO, you and your team are responsible for a long range of corporate-liable technology buying, and this includes selection, onboarding, issuance, security, management, integration, software updates, repair, replacement, upgrades, warranty, BYOD, wiping, backup, and more. But there is one more step you need to includes in this long list, and that is what you do with the hardware, computing equipment, and devices once you are no longer using them or are ready to replace them.
Below are some of the options you may consider for your smartphones or other devices:
Reuse, keep as backup – used as backup when one is under repair, lost, or stolen. Some insurance or warranty plans do not provide a backup device or you may not get one out to your employees in time
Reuse, use for seasonal or short-term workers – used for seasonal workers, contractors or used as backup when one is under repair
Reuse, Wi-Fi only usage – There are specific applications or business use cases that make sense to use a smartphone, phablet or even tablet as Wi-Fi only. This may include a long range of data only applications or use cases where a phone is not required and in fact many chat/messaging apps allow for easy mobile VoIP calling.
Recycle, trade-In – trade in to your carrier, online vendor, or OEM or device manufacturer. Trade in programs could benefit your company between $20-$200 for a smartphone that is between 1 and 2 years old. Some programs offer store or online credit to be used for your next purchase, your upgrade and others provide cash payouts and gift cards.
Recycle and be GREEN – there are many 3rd party programs and companies in place that will happily pick up those devices from your facilities and offices. There are precious materials in many devices that provide an economic benefit once recycled. Toxic elements contained in wireless devices, including lead and arsenic, should be avoided in our landfills. In addition, materials such as plastic, copper, gold, lead, zinc, beryllium, tantalum, coltan, palladium, and other raw materials hold value and companies are able to recycle those precious materials. Say NO to e-waste!
Donate – there are a host of drop-off locations where your devices may be sold into secondary markets, recycled, and even sent overseas to our soldiers/military personnel. Cell Phones for Soldiers and Hope Phones are just two programs where you can donate your devices.
Did you know that many large corporations are incorporating their own buyback, trade-in, and replacement programs to support their employees in properly wiping, backing up, and recycling of devices? You can work directly with your carrier, your device manufacturer, or a variety of companies (see the Resource list below). According to a 2014 CBS News online article, “Twenty-four states currently have laws in place governing the collection and recycling of electronic devices.” This number has now grown to 25 states according to the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse. This means that businesses or corporations are liable for non-compliance and further illustrates the importance of having a plan/policy in place. Your employees should know who to go to, the options you have available, and provide proper plans for end-of-life device management.
As founder and CEO of Compass Intelligence, Stephanie Atkinson leads the organizational direction of the company, including strategic initiatives, client engagement activities, financial planning and consulting services with Fortune 500 customers. She specializes in vertical markets, technology segmentation and overall market intelligence and consulting services within various high-tech industries, including the telecommunications, information technology and network infrastructure sectors.
Ms. Atkinson has been in the high-tech market research and consulting field for more than a decade. She has also worked in the industry within the equipment and service provider market. Under her direction, Compass Intelligence became a certified woman-owned business, and in 2010 made the Aggie 100 list as one of the fastest-growing Aggie-owned businesses. She was honored as one of the Top 100 Wireless Technology Experts of 2014 by Today's Wireless World, and she was recognized as a Top M2M Influencer (No. 8) by Onalytica.
Ms. Atkinson has become a well-known and respected consultant and thought leader in the high-tech research and consulting market, and she is widely recognized as a consultant in the implementation and evaluation of vertical market programs in the telecom/IT industry. She has been quoted in numerous business and trade publications, including Washington Technology, EE Times, The Congressional Quarterly, CNN Money, Network World, Healthcare Informatics, the Wall Street Journal, Finance News, America’s Network, Wireless Fidelity Magazine, CEO Magazine and Campus Technology. She also volunteers for the Center for New Ventures & Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University and is a member of HIMSS, CEA, CABA, the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum and Aggie Women.
Prior to founding Compass Intelligence, Ms. Atkinson was a senior analyst at In-Stat. There, she managed Vertical Market Deep Dive services and drove many large initiatives around business intelligence and new market research services. Prior to In-Stat, she was employed at Frost & Sullivan as an industry analyst and as a program leader within the telecom services division. There, she developed and initiated one of the firm's first vertical market research programs, serving as the senior analyst. Ms. Atkinson also held a position as an information services manager at a Texas-based CLEC, Tex-link Communications (Formerly Taylor Communications Group). There, she managed the development of a custom billing and OSS system. Prior to Tex-Link, she worked for Alcatel USA, where she served as an engineering and production planner in the Lightwave products division. At Alcatel, Ms. Atkinson coordinated with electrical, design, process, manufacturing, software, product, ASIC and PCB engineers for the research and development of the Alcatel 1680 Optical Gateway Manager project.
Ms. Atkinson holds a bachelor of science degree in industrial distribution from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, and an MBA with a concentration in management of technology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She resides in Bandera, Texas, the "Cowboy Capital of the World," with her husband and two sons.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Stephanie Atkinson and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications Inc. or its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.