The Past, Present and Future of ITAM and ITAD Services in Corporate America

August 20th, 2019

In a business environment increasingly driven by and reliant on technology, IT asset management and IT asset disposition processes and policies will continue to evolve. Companies that partner with an industry-leading ITAM and ITAD service provider will be in a position to transform their businesses through solutions that not only protect data and responsibly recycle IT hardware, but also bring great value to the business as a whole.

 

When Synetic Technologies was founded in 1999, anyone with a pickup truck and without qualms about illegally dumping electronics could get into the business. No one was talking about or much concerned with lead, mercury or other hazardous materials polluting the environment. Not much care went into data privacy and security or recycling IT equipment. Personal information was not stored on networks or in the cloud as it is today. Nor were we overwhelmed with the mind-boggling amount of IT equipment being retired and replaced by choice, rather than forced obsolescence.

Then, things changed. And like technology does, they changed quickly.

Verticals such as finance, technology, law, government, retail, health care, energy, education, leasing and small to mid-sized businesses began storing personal and sensitive information associated with their employees, customers and business relationships on networks and equipment. To take advantage of new technology, IT assets were upgraded at a rate unseen before.

Data breaches became commonplace. IT equipment’s resale value dropped and components flooded the market, creating environmental danger. Privacy and environmental stewardship predicated IT asset disposition (ITAD) and IT asset management (ITAM) services, and more importantly, they led to standards that govern technology disposal and information protection.

The following evolved to create responsibility around technology components:

  • R2 Standards
  • RIOSTM
  • e-Stewards
  • NAID

 

To evolve best practices, industry associations were formed:

  • International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM), the only globally recognized membership and training organization, to offer the highest quality benefits, expertise, best practices, and professionalism to their industry members.
  • National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), the international trade association for companies providing information destruction services, with a mission to promote the information destruction industry and its members’ standards and ethics.

 

Present Conditions

Businesses and Fortune-listed corporations cannot trust their IT assets to cowboys in trucks. Risk mitigation associated with data and environmental protection became the driving force for companies like Synetic in the ITAD and ITAM services industry. ITAD and ITAM certifications are the gold standards companies seek when choosing a partner to securely and responsibly dispose of used computers and IT assets.

“Knowing that their credibility and possibly millions of dollars in fines are at risk, many corporate executives won’t talk to, much less partner with an ITAD and ITAM services provider who doesn’t hold industry certifications,” explains Ron Helmer, Synetic Technologies’ president and CEO. “The problem is when providers gain certifications as a means to open doors to conversations with potential clients. When our team sits across the table from Fortune-level executives, we not only have industry credentials, but also use them to create strategy and value around ITAD and ITAM policies. Synetic is one of the highest certified IT asset management & disposition firms in the U.S. and abroad. We’ve become the go-to for those who want to make one call whether they have dozens, hundreds or thousands of used computers or IT assets to dispose of securely and responsibly for the sake of their employees, customers, shareholders and the environment.”

In the current environment, corporate leaders look at litigation to surmise the next data breach threat and its source. Without the benefit of a crystal ball, many of them are unwilling to risk having their IT assets leave the premises without getting proof of destruction first.

“Some companies have implemented an internal policy prohibiting IT assets from leaving the site before the proprietary data is destroyed. Acts and regulations protect other confidential information stored on these assets, and as recent court verdicts and fines prove, companies are held accountable for breaches. Destroying hard drives on-site is the only safe and secure option they have, especially in heavily regulated industries,” states Gary Agness, vice president, Synetic Technologies.

In 2014, Synetic introduced The Data Annihilator™, a self-contained mobile hard drive shredder. Hard drives and associated media are loaded onto a conveyor belt in the front of the data destruction vehicle (DDV). The belt conveys the assets to the shredder where four powerful, rotating cylinders grind assets into pieces small enough to fall through a screen into a collection bin. Pieces are rendered breach-proof and recycled according to strict R2 policies that protect data and the environment.

Not only is the Annihilator NAID certified, but also features an iOS app with DVR capability that provides ultimate proof of destruction performance. The app is an access-controlled live video viewing platform that is directly linked to the DDV when it is running. The DDV is fitted with LTE-based communication to push the video feed to a cloud-based processing server that in turn records and plays back the events in real time. An onboard recording function acts as an extra layer of protection in the event that the DDV is unable to connect to the internet. At its core, the app is designed to provide users with the ability to live stream destruction events as they are happening, but also provide the following additional features:

  • GPS location information of DDV
  • Virtual tour of the DDV
  • Chat-based communication with Synetic

 

2016 brought the patented data sanitization platform, the Virtual Data Annihilator™, aka Virtual DAN, which further distinguished Synetic from other IT asset disposition firms by creating even better value for clients.

Agness explains, “We decided to develop our own platform to efficiently and cost effectively erase enterprise-class data erasure, saving us and our clients the licensing fees paid to a third-party software provider for each device wiped. For each drive, our clients are given a data file proving sanitization. Virtual DAN is scalable, can be deployed on-site and lets us custom design the data destruction programs to our clients’ various security needs. Virtual DAN also measures each device’s condition and reliability, which delivers higher monetary value on the secondary market, delivering even more value.”

 

Preparing Now for Future Challenges

Helmer and Agness foresee the demand increasing over the next five to 10 years for properly handling IT assets and wiping them clean of private data on-site. In preparation, they created Synetic’s Data Annihilator and Virtual Data Annihilator to perform NAID-compliant plant- and mobile-based shredding and sanitation.

Especially as the mindset shifts further to “trust no one,” already Synetic’s Data Annihilator and Virtual Data Annihilator are popular and integral ITAD and ITAM services solutions. As the world moves toward smaller consumables that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT), these solutions are well suited to handle these assets that are replaced more often, as well as the influx of bulkier items that are becoming extinct.

“Our competitive advantage has always been looking ahead for threats and preparing our clients for them. Regardless of what cloud, wearable, and even electric vehicle technology brings, our focus remains on being a transformational, versus a transactional, ITAD and ITAM solutions provider for our clients,” says Helmer. “Certifications are not just acronyms; they are the standards. We use them not only as a means to perform transactional services, but also to transform our clients’ ITAD and ITAM policies to stay ahead of data breach and environmental threats, whatever those may be in the future.”