When considering end-of-life assets, IT asset disposition processes becomes an important part of managing the assets.   In a recent article written, called “As IT Devices Come and go, ITAD Catches Fire”, there is an invaluable amount of information that many times is overlooked by OEM and retail companies. This article spells out many of the required plans, needs and companies that handle IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) services.   The key element, that is discussed briefly in this article, is the chain of custody. And what can also be sub-labeled as Reputation Management or Brand Protection.

There are many companies in the world who are willing to take a company’s outdated and old units. This is the main purpose of the article and the idea is to get one to realize that there is a support system out there for old units.

The reality is, that while the ITAD services are important, Brand Protection is the key element to a company’s refresh program or take back program. When any company takes it upon themselves to manage and handle end user or corporate data, there is a very large liability on the third party that is representing the OEM or retailer, but even more so on the OEM and retail Company that is taking back these units.

You can read story after story online about hard drives not being disposed of correctly and ending up at a swap meet with “Joe’s” data on it. You can read about corporate entities, like Comcast, who have recently been fined millions of dollars for not disposing of the units with private data on them. And as this article mentioned above, and does a good job of hitting the key points from the 10,000 point view, there is a real need for every end user and corporate refresh program manager to understand the fine line, the details about what happens to units and where they end up. Hence, chain of custody is key.

There are two things that are particularly important to understand when entrusting yours or your customers’ data to a third party:

  1. That OEM or retail Company you plan to use, they are not the end of the supply chain, in fact they are the second step. Step one is you deciding that you need to do something with an old unit or device. Step two, this OEM or retailer, is the company selling you new units or devices. From there, what happens to your old units and what is that chain of custody spoken of? Now enters the Third Party Service Provider (3PSP). This is the company that actually takes the units from the OEM and retailer and does something with them. You have now entered the reverse supply chain; and though it is out of your sight, it is directly going to have an effect upon you and your customer or department. It is up to you to be aware of where these units go. You may trust the company in front of you taking this equipment off your hands, but do you trust the 3PSP they use, or even know who they are, or where that 3PSP takes the equipment, or what they do with it? Dell has been a big part of the ITAD and Reverse Logistics world and a leader as well; but did you know that Dell uses 3PSP’s for each step of this reverse supply chain, as do most OEM and retail companies? It is important to know the entire supply chain, which you are indirectly using, and where the end results will be.
  1. Reputation Management and Brand Protection. Are you aware of the costs in business when the 3PSP unknown to you decides to send your companies or your end user customer’s equipment, with data on it, to an unknown region of the world? What if that same company decides to sell this equipment without destroying important data? We spoke of Comcast above, but what about Best Buy and Apple. Pictures of their equipment, sitting in Africa, with little children dismantling the units. All along, Apple being told that the equipment was being disposed of in the US. Be aware of the repercussions of using the wrong 3PSP. Ask the question and follow the chain of custody to the end, to protect your brand and reputation.

These are just two areas to keep in mind, the ramifications of which can destroy a reputation for a time or the longevity of which can destroy a company as a whole. Be aware of whom you use and the entire supply chain behind what you think is the end.

About AER Worldwide

AER Worldwide mitigates risk and provides global solution to handle your entire end-of-life materials management needs. We provide eco-friendly solutions and services throughout the entire IT product life cycle. Our Reverse Logistics efforts, or “aftermarket” services, help organizations after the initial sale and provide IT asset disposition support throughout the life of the equipment. With global locations, AER Worldwide will provide eco-friendly services, with certified brand protection techniques. To learn more about AER Worldwide, visit www.aerworldwide.com.