Cascade Asset Management (Cascade), a national leader in providing full service IT asset retirement solutions to businesses and institutions, published its 5th Annual Benchmarking Report today.  The study provides information and research on security, environmental, and financial issues related to IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) and the more general IT Asset Management (ITAM) discipline.

This report was built from data Cascade compiled through (1) a November 2018 customer survey, (2) an evaluation of more than 500,000 assets processed by Cascade in 2017 and 2018, and (3) a review of related industry research.

In the survey portion, enterprises said they expect a slight increase in IT hardware purchases in 2018, with 22% of respondents indicating they plan to spend more on devices this year, up from 18% reporting increased spending in 2018. At the same time, twice as many people (from 6% to 13%) expect to spend less on IT hardware in 2019 than in 2018. The vast majority of respondents (65%) expect to spend the same on IT hardware in 2018 as 2019.

For laptops, the refresh rate is shortening this year. More than one-third of survey respondents expected to retire laptops that are no more than three years old and two-thirds will retire laptops that are no more than four years old.  Respondents expected only 61.2% of laptops to retired in 4 years or less in 2018 and 63.0% in 2017. Financial and banking firms and companies providing IT services and software reported the fastest refresh rates.

Participants also report a 25% increase in employees using their phones for work last year. Company issued smart-phones also grew by 13% last year. That being said, over 45% of respondents say they do not have an internal process in place to destroy data on smart phones and tablets when they are retired from use.

“Cascade is now starting to see the inflection point of a decline in the rate of desktops and laptops being retired and a sharp increase in data center equipment and mobile devices retired by clients,” said study author, Neil Peters-Michaud. “This corresponds to IT hardware deployment decisions made three to four years ago.”

A number of survey questions were asked about asset tracking and data destruction during the retirement phase of the devices. When Cascade asked survey respondents what they tracked in their asset management programs, servers jumped to the number one spot this year (up from #3 in the previous year), likely due to their asset value and security risk. Desktops, laptops and network gear come next. While nearly 81% of enterprises track all laptops, only 35% track all smart phones.

The survey also showed that many companies do perform some type of data protection on hard drives before they leave their environment, including encryption (30%), re-formatting drives (26%) or wiping drives using free software (25%). Still, 49% of respondents didn’t perform any onsite media sanitization or destruction themselves and instead outsourced all data destruction work to Cascade. Nine percent of survey participants noted they “drill through the drive” to destroy the data.

Cascade also reviewed the resale activity of more than 150,000 assets it refurbished and resold from 2017-2018. In general, the average resale price for a sold asset grew by more than 14% in 2018, compared to 2017 dollar amounts. The average laptop resale price was up 23% (to $101.55) and desktop PC values were up 15% (to $52.23). This is despite average refresh rates staying fairly flat from year to year.  Meanwhile, there continues to be a strong demand for smartphones (up 14% to $47.35 on average) and servers (up 11% to $367.48 per device).

The survey also asked Cascade customers about their understanding and interest in industry certifications. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said the ISO 9001 (Quality) certification was either critically, very, or somewhat important to them.  Next came the ISO 14001 (Environment) certification at 58%. NAID was third at 54% being important. The e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling was listed as important to 53% of respondents. These responses are all up about ten percentage points from last year, demonstrating a growing interest in certifications for ITAD processors.

The full report is posted online at: https://cascade-assets.com/2019Report/ Additional inquiries about the findings can be directed to the author, Neil Peters-Michaud, npm@cascade-assets.com.