End customers are demanding more environmental and social responsibility from manufacturers, and this trend is likely to increase over the coming years, according to George Brasher, managing director of UK and Ireland at HP.
Speaking to CRN during HP's Sustainability Summit in London last week, Brasher and Kirstie McIntire, HP's director of global sustainability operations, urged channel partners to become more engaged in the vendor's sustainability agenda, for both the environmental good it does, but also for profits.
"Increasingly in tenders and in conversations with our partners, we're being asked ‘How do we make a positive impact on the environment?' So we're working with our partners on that all the time," said Brasher, adding that partners should make sustainability awareness part of their agenda as it is increasingly becoming a focus point for customers.
"It starts with the customer. If the customer demands it, and the manufacturer and developer don't put it in and make it part of their proposition, they're going to be at a disadvantage as they go through either public or private tenders.
"It's mandated by law, so you'll see public procurement bodies across the UK and Ireland that have said it's a mandatory part of that process. If they don't understand those questions and can't answer those questions adequately, it will put them at a competitive disadvantage."
McIntire agreed with Brasher (pictured right), adding that the level of questions she receives from end customers has changed in the last decade, from being compliant with government regulations, to now being grilled about supply chain transparency.
"I've been measuring the amount of business coming through from business tenders with some type of sustainability… [and] the sophistication of the questions is changing. Not only are the volume of questions or the amount of the bid given over to sustainability ever-increasing, but also the complexity of the questions is increasing."
Reduce, reuse, repair
In its annual Sustainable Impact Report, which was unveiled at the Summit, HP reported that sustainability was a "key differentiator" in over $700m (£544m) of new revenue for the company in 2017, along with a 38 per cent year-on-year increase in sales bids with sustainability requirements.
HP offers a portfolio of sustainable products, including its PageWide technology, which uses half the energy of an inkjet or laser printer and Instant Ink, an ink replacement scheme HP claims reduces material consumption per printed page by 57 per cent.
Both executives promote the repairability of HP's devices. Brasher claims that the longevity of those products can add value to channel partners who service and fix them.
"The customer is able to lower the cost of printing and we get happy customers. It also reduces the carbon footprint because of the way we deliver the ink. It's a great thing from a sustainability perspective, but it also creates value for the channel partner, value for the customer and HP," he said.
"Not only is it good for the customer - by making it repairable, you lower the cost and increase their up time - but to the extent that you have to have a repair. The channel partners are part of that, because we create a partner ecosystem and if you have a product that is not repairable, all you've got then is a dissatisfied customer, you have a return as a channel partner and it's not a great experience for either party."
McIntire (pictured right) also points to Device-as-a-service (DaaS) as another sustainability model HP offers customers, where customers rent out devices as opposed to owning them outright, saying that this type of sharing-model allows customers to get the "best use" out of the product.
"It allows people to scale up or down, according to their needs and they can sort between different models, depending on if they are a mobile workforce or an executive workforce.
"I think for us that drives us and if we know that we're going to get that product back after two to four years or whatever the lease term is, we don't want to throw it away, we want to get a second life out of it. So that means we will continue this repairability design and work with our channel partners to do that. I think that ability to get a second utilisation out of the product is very important."
Brasher restated his point from last year that the changing demographic of both end-users and those entering the channel is having, and will continue to have an impact, on IT decision-making.
"As the workforce changes and you have more millennials and Generation Z coming in, we're seeing an increased awareness and sensitivity around sustainability and the environment. I always say it's a false choice to say sustainability versus business. To me, you can marry those up very easily. Making a printer more energy efficient is a great thing for the environment but it also means it costs less to run, which is a good thing for our customers."
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