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Open the door of that IT closet these days and chances are you’ll find
growing piles of equipment—laptops that had been used by those people who were
laid off during the recession, PCs set aside after a refresh, servers that have
been retired. And as the company takes more equipment out of service and adds
it to the pile, the headache for the IT manager in charge of it intensifies.

But IT manager headaches tend to translate into opportunities for IT solution
providers, and this is no exception. What if you could go into your customer’s
location, take that pile of equipment and recycle it, paying the customer back
some residual value that could then be spent on new solutions?

That’s just the opportunity that some industry observers say is ripe for 2010.

“Asset disposal will be very hot in the first six months of the year,” OnForce CEO
Peter Cannone told Channel Insider. “Among the CEOs that I talk to, that’s one
of the things they are looking for. Someone to help them get rid of 100
notebooks and sell them off or help dispose of them.”

Cannone contends that not many businesses will be hiring back in 2010 those
workers they laid off in 2009. They may use contract workers or temporary
employees to augment their workforces, but those individuals won’t be issued
company PCs. They will most likely work on their own personal equipment. And
that leaves piles of laptops and desktops to become even more obsolete in IT
closets everywhere.

“Anything in technology is like fresh fish,” Cannone said. “If it hangs around
awhile, it starts to stink.”

Not only that, but it could also become a tremendous liability to the company
that owns it. For instance, while the CIO
and IT executives may have invested in the best solutions to protect their
network security, chances are those unused laptops and the data on their hard
drives are largely unprotected.

“Are there hard drives here? Can an employee pop them out and sell them on
eBay?” asked Joe Serra, president of ecycling.com, an electronics asset
recovery and recycling company based in Florida and offering services there and
in Texas. Serra is also a former executive at technology distributor Tech Data.
“Unfortunately what evokes action is a big event.”

Serra noted that data security may not even be the only concern. Electronics
contain toxic materials, and put enough of it in one place and your storeroom
could technically be considered a toxic waste dump, according to Serra, who has
seen customer warehouses loaded up with such equipment.

Many IT organizations already know that this is a problem, which is probably
why companies like ecycling.com have seen a spike in business recently.

David Bernstein, CEO of Anything IT, which
has offered technology asset recovery and recycling services for 17 years, told
Channel Insider that his company has seen a big increase in business. How big?
Between 2008 and 2009, an estimated 100 percent increase in sales growth.

“We see that continuing,” he said, noting that his company works with about 100
channel partners.

Why is business up so much? ecycling.com’s Serra pointed out that companies
last did big PC purchases in 2004 or thereabouts, and much of that equipment is
at the end of its life now at 6 years old. Plus, about 2 million people lost
their jobs in 2009. If only half of those used a PC, that means there are 1
million unused or “orphaned” PCs collecting dust.

That adds up to a perfect storm for electronics recycling, according to
Anything IT’s Bernstein, as new applications come onto the market that can’t be
run on the old equipment.

Organizations have held onto equipment to the point where “it can no longer do
what it was supposed to do. All those things are playing a factor,” Bernstein
said.

In addition to channel partners, Anything IT works with technology vendors to
provide asset recovery services, and recently announced a deal with Samsung.
The company has also partnered up with Tech Data. Anything IT works out of
locations across the United States,
said Bernstein, and also has a GSA schedule so it can work with government
customers, too.

For channel partners who help these customer organizations with their used
equipment headache, the rewards can be more than just a few bucks. They could
provide a competitive edge that helps close the sale of another technology
solution to that customer who all of the sudden is getting value back from the
headache equipment to reduce the overall cost of the new technology.

“We manage liability and get highest return back from legacy equipment,”
Bernstein said. “And our main objective is to help partners win ultimate sales
they are going for.”