Q&A with CRN Tech Impact partner Societe Generale Equipment Finance

Vincenzo Scalzone, head of Hi-Technology Vendor at Societe Generale Equipment Finance (SGEF), explains how finance can play a role in helping channel customers switch to more sustainable technology

Doug Woodburn
clock • 6 min read
Q&A with CRN Tech Impact partner Societe Generale Equipment Finance

Why are you supporting CRN Tech Impact?

The CRN Tech Impact Awards are focused on how the channel is seizing opportunities around sustainability and CSR which is very much aligned to Societe Generale Equipment Finance's commitment to build a sustainable future through innovative and meaningful finance solutions, together with our clients and partners.

These Awards are the first in the technology sector to focus on sustainability and will help technology resellers to drive awareness, inspire people and help to engineer solutions at their level, so we are proud to support this initiative and play a role in helping customers and IT resellers build a more sustainable, equitable, green and connected community.

Does financing have a role to play in making the channel's offering to customers more sustainable?

Yes finance can play a key role in helping the channel customers switch to greener and more sustainable technology.

Digital transformation is a crucial focus for the IT sector aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and SGEF supports customers through their journey in helping them to make the right investments in technology to achieve this. IT legacy systems can require high levels of power to run and their large sizes often mean outsized heat output requiring additional cooling. Shifting to state-of-the-art technology that is cleaner and more recyclable can be costly for customers and finance provides an opportunity to spread the cost throughout several years.

Have you launched anything recently that helps with this?

Together with vendor partners we have launched financing programmes that focus on social sustainability such as financing for educational establishments. This allows them to have the latest greener and more efficient IT equipment such as tablets, laptops and desktops for pupils or networking and security equipment and software to reinforce their infrastructure.

The total cost of ownership of more recent technology can be lowered for customers through finance products such as operating leases and residual value-based leasing. Such finance options allow customers to shift to a more energy-efficient IT infrastructure that will reduce their carbon footprint in an affordable way.

You recently unveiled your ‘Care and Dare About the future' campaign. Can you tell us more about it?

In 2020, SGEF developed an ambitious CSR roadmap which has integrated CSR within our strategy as a main business driver, with the objective to become a market leader for CSR Equipment Finance. Our asset-life-cycle management approach aims to ensure an ecological and environmental positive use and reuse of resources.

Our 5-year strategy named "Care and Dare about the FUTURE" is based on 4 pillars "BUILD - SCALE - REUSE - LIVE", which are defined as:

1. Build: to develop new partnerships with CSR players,

2. Scale: shift existing model to Green & Social assets,

3. Reuse: expand our focus on asset life cycle management

4. Live: create the appropriate working environment and CSR culture.

Our aim is to support customers in their IT investments to purchase better and greener IT infrastructure as well as finance green assets.

What does the term ‘sustainability' encompass for you and your organisation?

Sustainability for SGEF is about committing to work together with our partners and clients to develop innovative and meaningful finance solutions, which support their energy transition investments, for the benefit of our planet and the society and ensure a positive use and reuse of resources.

Are sustainability and commercial success mutually exclusive?

The popular belief is that economic growth and sustainability are compatible, an idea known as green growth. Some disagree however we should re-evaluate certain industries, improve the supply chain and our own practices to ensure that we don't produce or consume more than is needed and as a result we don't waste important resources. A close-loop supply chain is the best way forward.

When a product has served its purpose, it can be recycled and the used resources (parts and components of old assets) can be reinvested in new production processes in an ecological and environmental positive way. SGEF offers residual value based finance products that will allow the underlying equipment to be refurbished and reused, or collected and recycled at the end of the primary finance period. Essentially, a closed-loop system and this circular economy encourages companies to treat their products as resources, to either be reused or to return to the start of the manufacturing cycle again.

What's the most shocking sustainability-related stat you've heard?

Statistics related to the energy consumption of some of the old technology-based data centres that require powerful ventilation and cooling systems can be quite shocking however it is also good to know that technology manufacturers are identifying these issues and developing ambitious solutions to increase energy efficiency.

Which IT company do you most admire for its sustainability credentials?

SGEF is privileged to have relationships with a number of international vendors, such as Cisco, Microsoft, Nutanix and Juniper. All of them have greatly contributed to raising awareness of the different dimensions of corporate social responsibility in the IT industry, and for that they are all admirable.

However, our industry is also made of many smaller companies, such as, those within the UK network of IT Resellers who have promoted laudable initiatives aimed at lowering the carbon footprint and/or increasing diversity in race and gender which all play a part in helping to create a more sustainable industry and business environment.

How would you assess the IT channel's record on sustainability overall?

There is hardly a business that doesn't realise the necessity of adopting a sustainability approach. Companies in the UK IT channel are stepping up strongly and introducing sustainable initiatives and changes within the supply chain.

A lot of progress has been made since the historic announcement in 2015 at the COP 21 in Paris. The focus has shifted from documenting problems to creating solutions. Technology equipment is becoming more energy efficient, and recycling and reusing second-hand equipment are now on the radar of all channel partners and their customers. SGEF is facilitating this by offering customers residual value-based finance to reduce total cost of ownership and by partnering with channel partners on the second life of the underlying equipment.

Have you or your company's outlook towards environmental and social sustainability changed in the last year?

The awareness of environmental responsibility during the last year has increased particularly as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. SGEF anticipates an appetite for green assets in the coming years and has put Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the heart of its strategy.

SGEF's responsibility is to support clients and partners with their energy transition investments. In the last year we have reviewed our finance products in the light of these changing needs and most recently introduced residual value based finance that lowers total cost of ownership and encourages the reuse and refurbishment of equipment. This is the first of a number of innovative and meaningful finance solutions we will be offering as the needs of our industry and partners become clearer in the coming years.

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