Back to the Future

back to the Future
The used hardware business is booming

The used hardware and software business is booming and offers resellers additional lucrative business opportunities. However, entry into this segment stands or falls with the right selection of professional partners on the supplier side.

Due to the growing social importance of ecological approaches, the topic of sustainability is also playing an increasingly important role in IT. While the respective options for influencing and choosing, for example in the case of cloud offerings, are still very limited, there is another IT area in which sustainability is already very easy to live today: hardware. In the meantime, almost all types of computers, from smartphones to PCs to servers, have reached performance levels that usually make the fast replacement cycles of the past no longer necessary. The times when switching to a new Windows version almost automatically meant buying a new computer are long gone. More powerful software and efficiency-increasing technologies such as virtualization do the rest to get the most out of the hardware.

At least in theory, this is already well known to users. In a current study by the TU Berlin and the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, 67 percent of the Germans surveyed stated that they felt obliged to use electrical appliances for as long as possible. Because the longer the service life, the better the ecological balance. In practice, however, actions often only correspond to these good intentions to a limited extent. Although the average service life of devices such as smartphones and PCs is increasing continuously, far too many of them are still being retired and disposed of prematurely.

The most important reason for this is the belief, known as "Newism" and strongly promoted by marketing, that new devices are automatically significantly better than their predecessors as a result of progress. Often this technical aspect is only put forward as a justification for an actually purely psychological phenomenon in which the devices are assigned a certain status symbol character. "In the material culture of our society, novelty has a high value," explains Professor Melanie Jaeger-Erben, head of the research group.

All things new?

Often it is more about what is new than what advantages it really brings. This newism is one of the main drivers for the fact that over two thirds of users buy a new smartphone, although the old one usually still works perfectly. In the case of PCs, too, the figure is still more than 50 percent and even your washing machine that is still working properly will replace 35 percent with a newer model.

At the company level, the Newism in combination with the tax depreciation modalities contributes to the fact that millions of computers are still sorted out every year regardless of their technical performance. As confirmed by the latest survey results, it is paradoxically particularly important for the supposedly particularly environmentally conscious young generations to always be equipped with the latest hardware by their employer. While 84 percent of those questioned over 60 years of age state that the goal of the longest possible device service life is an integral part of their canon of values, only about half as many among the 18 to 29 year olds. Accordingly, the younger generations are less willing to invest time, knowledge and work in maintaining and maintaining the value of their electronic possessions.

Not until far behind are defects as an argument for replacement. Manufacturers are responsible to a not insignificant extent because they make it unnecessarily time-consuming and expensive to repair devices and thus keep them alive, for example by gluing batteries and other components. At the same time, many users benefit from this, as it gives them a seemingly perfect excuse for wanting something new. In the survey, only 20 percent indicated that they would even consider repairing a problem with their computer that was probably due to a defect. The rest simply swap the device directly.

Big comeback

After all, there is still a positive side to it. Because a good two thirds also consider used equipment when purchasing a new one. In companies in particular, there is a growing awareness that you can kill two birds with one stone by significantly reducing your ecological footprint on the one hand and saving or even earning money on the other. If you rely on high-quality used goods in procurement, you don't even have to accept losses in terms of performance or warranty. Professional refurbishers such as bb-net, CDS and GSD offer fully tested, elaborately refurbished business hardware that has been upgraded and brought up to date, including warranty conditions similar to those for new devices.

A project by the Hanoverian insurance company Concordia, which wanted to bring the work equipment of its more than 1.200 employees up to date in order to be prepared for the future and the change to Windows 10, is an example of how worthwhile this can be. In order to sound out an economically and ecologically sensible alternative to new purchases, those responsible worked out a sophisticated plan together with bb-net. Taking into account the number of available replacement devices, it was determined that every week 350 laptops would be cleaned, reconditioned, equipped with new components such as SSDs and more RAM, tested and brought back to Concordia.

Within a very short time and without interrupting day-to-day business, the entire equipment pool could be checked, reconditioned and brought up to the desired status. In addition to valuable resources and CO2, the insurance company also saved a lot of work and around 300.000 euros compared to a new purchase.

More than just cheap

So it's no wonder that the used market has recorded double-digit growth rates for years, while sales of new devices are stagnating. This offers numerous lucrative opportunities for specialist retailers and system houses. As the example mentioned shows, there are far more options than just cheaper offers through used hardware. The spectrum ranges from simple buying and selling to upgrading or loan devices and workplace-as-a-service models to services such as complete rollouts, rollbacks, migrations and revision-proof data deletion.

The latter in particular is becoming increasingly important in view of the growing sensitivity caused by the GDPR. All too often badly or not at all deleted data carriers from companies and authorities end up in the wrong hands. "It is a horror to see what is slipping through there," reports bb-net managing director Michael Bleicher from his daily experience in dealing with hardware that has supposedly already been cleaned. His team regularly not only finds leftover data, but also "boxes" of data protection-relevant components such as SIM, smart and access cards in the devices.

Whether as a single service or in a package, resellers can optimally position themselves here with customers and thus more than compensate for the collapsing business with new hardware. With their own partner programs, the providers actively support resellers in entering and growing in this business area, GSD and bb-net have even launched the premium own brands Reteq and tecXL, which are available exclusively for their trading partners. To make it easier for interested partners to get started, Bleicher's company also offers them a free service package for the first customer as well as fixed prices for various services. Companies can achieve significant savings by using used business IT.


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