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10 Hardware Sustainability Predictions for 2024: How Channel Partners, Distributors and MSPs Will Evolve

December 29, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

How will hardware companies and their channel partners evolve to address sustainability and green IT services in 2024?

Kevin Corrigan, executive director, US Channel ITAD, Ingram Micro
Kevin Corrigan, executive director, US Channel ITAD, Ingram Micro

We're glad you asked. Here are 10 sustainability-related predictions describing what may be next for hardware companies and their channel partner ecosystems -- including distributors, integrators, VARs, MSPs and more.

1. IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) Demand Will Continue to Grow: Annual spending on ITAD is expected to reach $34 billion by 2030, up from $16.8 billion in 2022, according to Research and Markets. That's a 9.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), the researcher said.

What's driving demand for ITAD services? The three-part answer, according to Kevin Corrigan, executive director for US Channel ITAD at Ingram Micro, involves:

  • Environmentalism and carbon reduction: Partners and customers are increasingly aligning with internal goals and government mandates to reduce their carbon footprints.
  • Data privacy and security: Partners and customers want to ensure that data is truly wiped clean from used equipment.
  • Asset recovery value: ITAD allows technology to be reused, recycled, donated, or sold through the circular economy.

2. Mobile Device Makers Will Emulate Apple (and Fairphone): The carbon neutral Apple Watch launch generated plenty of buzz in September 2023. Some folks loved the associated marketing campaign, while critics accused Apple of greenwashing. Regardless of your personal views, Apple succeeded in stirring the hardware sustainability conversation. But... perhaps we should all spend more time focused on Fairphone, a European smartphone maker that aims to minimize the environmental impact of its products. Major smartphone players such as Google and Samsung have also upped their sustainability games -- though critics want to see even more progress. We'll be watching to see if Apple and Fairphone continue to drive the sustainability conversation in new directions.

3. Hardware as a Service (HaaS) Will Converge with ITAD to Reduce E-Waste: Some distributors, hardware companies and MSPs already offer hardware as a service (HaaS) programs -- a pay-as-you-go model for PCs, notebooks, network equipment, servers, printers and plenty more. By aligning ITAD with HaaS and/or lease agreements, some channel partners will further reduce the amount of hardware that piles up in landfills.

4. Hardware Companies Will Expand Sustainability Partner Programs: In case you missed it, Cisco Systems, HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise each have sustainability-focused partner programs in the market. More are coming...

5. MSPs Will Monitor Hardware Sustainability and Associated Carbon Emissions: Skeptical? Look at the Logicalis Managed Digital Fabric Platform -- which provides CIOs and customers with "the insights they need to improve both the environmental and business impact of their digital ecosystem," the MSP asserts.

6. Smart Buildings and HVAC Hardware Will Increasingly Emphasize Sustainability: Skeptical? Johnson Controls and Schneider Electric each have bet their businesses on cloud-based software coupled with on-premises hardware to drive sustainable buildings and homes. Related: Several of our podcasts focus on cloud services and hardware for building energy efficiency.

7. M&A Involving E-Waste Reduction and ITAD Will Accelerate: Skeptical? Private equity firm Francisco Partners, which acquired software provider Blancco Technology Group, is seeking tuck-in acquisitions to further accelerate Blancco's circular economy, sustainability and e-waste reduction software businesses. Other example buyers include Closed Loop Partners, Iron Mountain, Full Circle, and Elemental Holding, just to name a few.

8. Hardware Warranty Management, ITAD and Managed Services Will Converge in Multiple Ways: Skeptical? Check out these moves by 1E and ScalePad -- which are led by MSP software industry veterans Mark Banfield and Dan Wensley, respectively.

9. Network Hardware Power Management Will Experience a Renaissance: Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) has been around for more than a decade. Alas, many CIOs and MSPs have ignored or overlooked the capabilities. We expect that to change amid (1) rising IT energy needs, (2) AI-related energy consumption, (3) rising energy costs and (4) sustainability mandates increasingly extending to CIOs, IT departments and outsourcing partners. We therefore expect renewed emphasis on Energy Efficient Ethernet and follow-on technologies that reduce energy needs for infrastructure, storage and applications.

10. Renewable Energy Hardware Will Consume Data Centers: Skeptical? One example involves WindCORES operating data centers inside wind turbines located in Germany, according to CNN. The approach makes the data centers almost carbon neutral, the report asserted. WindCores is a subsidiary of German renewable electricity company WestfalenWIND.

What did I miss? And what's off the mark? Your feedback is always welcome. Please send it my way: Joe@MentoreVentures.com.

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