3stepIT’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jason Skidmore, discusses the company’s focus on sustainability in the technology sector and its plans to dominate the European space.
Tell us a bit about your experience in the channel and your current role at 3stepIT?
I have been chief commercial officer at 3stepIT since 2018, having previously held the role of managing director of 3stepIT UK – leading and growing the team that is responsible for the UK operations. I’ve also held various channel and commercial roles throughout my career, including channel director for Dell Financial Services in Europe and commercial leader for GE Capital’s UK Vendor Finance Division.
What is 3stepIT focusing on at the moment?
Today, 3stepIT is focused on developing greater awareness for sustainability in the technology sector. Reducing e-waste has to be a priority for all involved in the buying, selling and disposal of devices. Findings by the UN University report point to a clear, steady growth trend in e-waste, which is projected to continue at a rate of two million metric tonnes per year. By 2018, the world was generating almost 50 million metric tonnes, of which approximately one quarter – or 9.3 million metric tonnes – was made up of personal digital devices such as computers, displays, smartphones and tablets.
How do you support partners who are looking to become more sustainable?
At 3stepIT we are supporting businesses to reduce their e-waste by helping our customers actively manage the entire lifecycle of their devices. We are promoting the circular economy as an alternative to device ownership, which inevitably leads the owner to dispose of assets in an environmentally friendly manner, something that we find not many organisations are able to accomplish independently. Many businesses are now comfortable with accessing essential services on a pay per use or rental basis. Most organisations focus this approach around their mobile phones or cars, but this is also a good model to adopt for computer equipment too because it enables an active device management policy.
With this setup in place, at the end of the usage contract, the customer has to return the device, allowing a Technology Lifecycle Management provider, like 3stepIT, to both refurbish and find a new home for the device, extending its use and reducing demand for scarce resources.
Our mission is simple: to help organisations become more sustainable by helping them to reduce e-waste. The channel can play a big part in this goal given its reach and relationships with mid market organisations. Financially, a circular economy model can benefit the channel as a whole.
However, more importantly, a circular economy approach can support channel partners whose shareholders, employees and more widely, society as a whole, are placing increasing demands on operating in a sustainable manner. Organisations are looking to their suppliers and technology partners now, asking them questions such as “how can you help me meet my sustainability KPIs?” and in Technology Lifecycle Management, the channel has a solution.
At 3stepIT, we support the customer with the upfront investment required to deploy business technology. Once the devices are deployed, our in-life asset management software simplifies the administration of those assets, including device tracking, cost-centre management, ensuring compliance with software and security policies.
As the contract comes to renewal, we support the customer to return devices to our refurbishment centres so that we can carry out essential repairs and resell, whilst supporting the original client to renew their device estate. All of these services can be offered via the channel as an enhancement to their existing product proposition. In doing so we help the channel to get even closer to the customer. For example, our asset management software can also integrate the entire device estate onto the platform, enabling a 360 degree view of the customer’s technology landscape. This enables a wider conversation around total e-waste output and how it can be reduced by adopting Technology Lifecycle Management.
By extending the lifecycle of technology devices, we can support partners and customers to offer a second life to a device, and in doing so help to save the carbon footprint of manufacturing another device. If we take a laptop as an example, the ‘use’ phase is responsible only for 10-30% of the laptop’s total lifecycle CO2 emissions, the majority being in the initial manufacture. By doubling the lifetime of a laptop, the lifecycle CO2 emissions per year of use can be reduced tremendously.
What are some of the biggest things impacting the IT channel at the moment?
There’s no getting away from the very real need to support sustainable business outcomes. For the channel, which has always prided itself on deep customer relationships, especially when working with mid to large sized enterprises, we believe Technology Lifecycle Management is a logical extension for those resellers who wish to go beyond a proposition based purely on product and service excellence. The major trends we’ve been hearing about for the last 5-10 years: cloud, as-a- service, Internet of Things, all require a proliferation of devices but what’s missing in the mainstream is also a view on how to manage these devices sustainably. Technology Lifecycle Management leans in some of these trends and is a viable and effective solution to reducing the carbon footprint for many organisations.
What’s next for 3stepIT?
3steptIT was established in 1997 and has led the development of Technology Lifecycle Management as a business necessity across the Nordic region where awareness on sustainability is generally more advanced than across the rest of Europe. We’ve got a strong customer portfolio throughout this region because our product portfolio is widely seen as adding value by our partners and customers.
We’re now taking this proposition across Europe, and to do that we have recently launched a joint venture with BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, called ‘BNP Paribas 3 Step IT’, which is now already operating in the UK, France, Germany and Italy. More countries are to follow and by the end of 2022, we will be live in 20 countries.
This new entity draws on the strengths of BNP Paribas, as a leading European bank with a very strong corporate customer base and couples that with our sustainability solution. Our combined offer delivers a service based on circular economy principles to corporate Europe; one that anticipates the needs of companies looking for more flexible and sustainable “product as a service” financing solutions. The channel has a big part to play in helping us to meet the needs of this client base.
Over the next few months, we are focusing on putting this partnership live across further markets. It is already live in: France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. We’re looking forward to offering sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management on a larger scale than we’ve been able to before.
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