Yesterday, I participated in one of the regular content planning sessions for us analysts on Forrester’s IT Infrastructure & Operation’s Research team. Similar to investment managers and their portfolio of stocks or bonds, we spent time making buy/hold/sell decisions on what we will research more, continue to research, or stop researching. Among the many criteria we use to make these decisions, like client readership, inquiries, or consulting, the strategic relevancy to IT is an important factor to consider. And there was some heated debate around research themes we may phase out down the road…

Enter the discussion on IT asset disposition – or the process of reselling, donating, or recycling end-of-life IT equipment. While every organization eventually has to dispose of its end-of-life IT equipment, it’s long been an afterthought. And the data backs this up. Forrester finds that 80% of organizations globally use their OEM, third parties or a combination of the two for IT asset disposition. But when asked how important IT asset disposition is relative to other IT asset management processes, it’s far and away the least important. As an indicator of this, I recently surveyed over 300 European IT professionals where 77% of respondents ranked IT asset disposition “less important” or “least important.”

This begs the question, is disposing of end-of-life IT equipment really strategic?

I’m leaning towards no. And in short, here’s why: Just because you have to do something, like disposing of your end-of-life IT assets, it doesn’t mean it’s strategic. Don’t get me wrong, there are ample opportunities to improve IT asset disposition processes which support strategic imperatives like profitability (e.g., spend less disposing of IT assets, resell assets to offset costs), risk mitigation (e.g., data privacy, security, public perception), and corporate-wide green or environmental sustainability plans (e.g., Green IT 1.0 or “green for IT”, Green IT 2.0 or “IT for green”). But if you were to ask you CIO, CEO, or CFO if IT asset disposition was strategic, their answer would likely be no.

What do you think: Is disposing of end-of-life IT equipment strategic to your IT organization? Why or why not?