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  • Writer's pictureRihazudin Razik

Asset management strategies that are good for the environment

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

companies can use to deal with used assets and company data in a friendly way, especially since there are calls for more environmental stewardship. What businesses going through the "Great Transition" back to the office should do.

In the last two years, there has been a huge rise in the demand for devices and connections that can help with the switch to a distributed workplace. Organizations often had to buy new and used devices quickly so that employees could work from home. Now that many companies are bringing employees back to the office, the "ping pong" between the office and home presents some new challenges for businesses. What will they do with the IT assets to equip their remote workers? And what happens to the corporate and customer data that might be on these devices after saving files to desktops, etc. for months or even years? Companies need to come up with plans and policies to deal with these problems as soon as possible. When organisations update their asset management policies, they should also think about how bad it is for the planet and climate change to throw away used IT assets in landfills. E-waste has become a major problem. As people talk and act more about global climate change, e-waste is often left out of the conversation. But the amount of e-waste, which includes everything from old game consoles and remote controls to desktop and laptop computers, is reaching a crisis point. The Global E-waste Monitor 2020 says that in 2019, the world made a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste, which is 21% more than in the five years before. The report also says that the amount of e-waste in the world will reach 74 Mt by 2030, which is almost double what it was in 2000. To really make a dent in the problem of electronic waste, governments and businesses around the world will need to work together. A government action on e-waste is the EU law from September 2021, which says that many portable electronic devices will have to use the same charger. Once the rule is in place, all mobile phones, tablets, keyboards, etc. will need the USB-C charger. But companies can also be good corporate citizens by putting in place better policies for dealing with old or broken equipment in a responsible way, like not putting it in garbage dumps. As employees start the "Great Transition" back to work, organisations can take care of their data and IT assets by focusing on three key areas:

1. Use a sustainable method to make devices last longer. Because they don't know about more sustainable options, many companies think that getting rid of their assets is the best and least expensive thing to do. By making policies with e-waste in mind, companies can contribute to the circular economy by giving used but still working devices to schools and non-profits or reselling used equipment for its parts after all corporate and customer data has been securely removed. In light of the e-waste crisis, the "take, make, use, throw away" corporate culture needs to change. People often throw away perfectly functional devices and equipment because they don't know about other options, such as data sanitization and e-recycling. But it's important from an environmental and social impact point of view to use equipment in-house or donate it. Recycling hardware gives affordable computer equipment to non-profits, schools, and other groups. It also creates stable jobs in the refurbishment industry.

2. Make it a way of life to have better cyber hygiene As companies build a "good corporate citizen" culture from the top down and the bottom up, they should also think about how processing end-of-life devices affects security. When donating, reprocessing, or recycling used IT assets, the data on those devices must be permanently and irreversibly erased to avoid the worst-case scenario, which is a data breach. Businesses in highly regulated industries, like finance and healthcare, that have to follow a lot of rules and regulations should do everything they can to protect valuable and sensitive business and customer data. These organisations can do a better job of managing the asset and data lifecycle by putting an executive in charge of the process. One of our studies found that 47% of large global companies made positions for putting e-waste policies into place and making sure they are followed. This was done to deal with e-waste problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Enterprises need to make sure that their data management and e-waste management policies are in sync. They also need to be more aware of how a company-wide culture of better cyber hygiene can not only improve the security of the organisation but also lead to more environmentally friendly business practises. See also: Why cyber risk should be one of the most important things to think about during mergers and acquisitions

3. Update data management policies One bad thing about the work-from-home era, which was mostly caused by the pandemic, is that business data is more likely to be spread across multiple devices and stored in many more places, like the cloud, home and office computers, tablets, etc. Now that many workers are back at their desks and others are still mostly working from home or on the road, companies should realise that people will continue to work from home or anywhere with WiFi. Companies must find a way to balance the mobile, flexible nature of the workplace with a renewed sense of urgency to enforce strict data retention and management policies, putting security first. As companies deal with the extra PCs, laptops, and other devices they bought during the pandemic, they must also think about the chain of custody of these assets. If a laptop goes missing or gets stolen, it could make it harder to follow data privacy rules and regulations. If there is a data breach, the organisation could face fines or worse. Having a policy that every device, whether it's going to be used again or thrown away, must be remotely wiped clean of all corporate data before it leaves the employee's home office will give companies peace of mind that the data on the device can no longer be recovered. Once an asset has been cleaned, a certificate of erasure makes sure the data chain of custody stays in place, even if it falls off a FedEx or UPS truck. Companies can be good corporate citizens and join the fight against what is becoming an uncontrollable e-waste crisis by making sustainability a key part of their asset and data lifecycle policies and management. In turn, the used devices from organisations will feed back into the circular economy supply chain. This will help schools and organisations in underserved areas get the computers and laptops they need.

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