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Refurbished Enterprise Devices in the Post-Coronavirus Commercial Landscape

Sometimes it takes a colossal event to see things more clearly. At the beginning of this year, for example, refurbished enterprise devices were controversial. Progressives saw them as an obvious way to economize on budgets and reduce their environmental footprint, while conservatives saw these benefits as creating costs elsewhere – notably cosmetic damage, an increased risk of technical faults, and lack of a managed service. Fast forward to today, however, and the debate is far less contentious.

Karl Neary

September 27, 2021

The colossal event in question, of course, is the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdowns across the globe have forced organizations to work remotely and have subsequently increased the demand for laptops by 106% compared to 2019. The demand for this technology, however, couldn’t be met by traditional means earlier in the year due to lockdown measures in Hubei, China strangulating the flow of new technology to the rest of the world. Computer shipments from China to the US, for example, dropped 64% in early March. This combination of market conditions has created a perfect storm for the refurbished IT industry which shows few signs of easing any time soon.

The first thing conservatives have realized when forced to buy refurbished devices is that the refurbished IT industry has innovated significantly in recent years.

Technical diagnostic software advancements such as Aiken Workbench now make it possible to assess the health of every single component within a device. So, if a two-year-old laptop has a battery that operates at 61% of its original capacity, engineers can now identify this and replace it with a brand-new battery before it reaches its new home.

Reprinting advancements also now make it possible to alter the cosmetic quality of a refurbished device so that it looks indistinguishable from a new one. This, combined with bespoke vinyl wrapping options for brand recognition, offers the potential for refurbished technology to even outperform new devices cosmetically.

Perhaps most importantly, though, refurbished hardware vendors have recognized the opportunity which lies within not just selling devices in the first instance but subsequently guiding the buyer throughout the entire product lifecycle via a managed service. Next Business Day Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA), Configure to Order (CTO) and Help Desk Support (HDS) are just a few services that a Managed Service Provider (MSP) of refurbished technology now offers.

So much for discussing the lack of difference in product and service quality, though. Let’s look at what refurbished hardware offers which new hardware doesn’t offer (and never will).

Refurbished hardware vendors have recognised the opportunity which lies within not just selling devices but guiding the buyer throughout the entire product lifecycle via a managed service.

Al Gore, former US Vice President under the Bill Clinton administration, stated in 2018 that the world is in the early stages of a sustainable revolution. What we do today, commercially, and otherwise, is paramount to ensuring that the climate crisis doesn’t turn into a climate catastrophe.

The computing industry generates 2% of global CO2 emissions, similar in output to the global aviation industry. It requires 1,500 Litres of Water, 3,000 kWh of Electricity, 22 Kg of Chemicals, and 700 Kg of CO2 to produce a laptop or desktop alone. When your refresh projects involve hundreds or thousands of devices, therefore, the environmental benefits of buying refurbished are astronomical.

Now to the budgetary argument. A refurbished laptop or desktop can typically be purchased at around 70% of RRP. Considering that hardware was the largest slice of an IT department’s budget in 2019 at 35%, this can free up a significant portion of finances to be spent on other things which are vital to achieving departmental objectives in the digital age – think data security, cloud, and training and development, to name but a few.

All these factors mean that the question IT departments are asking today is not “Why would we buy refurbished technology?”, but rather, “Why wouldn’t we?”.

After all, conservatism’s roots lie in a fear of the unknown, and while it’s understandable that people sometimes ask themselves why they would try something new when the way they already do things isn’t broken, the reality is that things can be improved – not just on the organizational level, but on the societal level as well.

For more information on the benefits that Apex Evolution and refurbished technology can make to your organisation please contact the team:

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