Newsweek International

3stepIT - Leading the Way in Sustainabl­e IT

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Finland’s economy is beginning to stabilize following the first wave of the coronaviru­s pandemic, and the country’s vibrant tech sector is set to play a leading role in supporting growth. Within a thriving ecosystem of disruptive start-ups, technology accounts for more than 50% of the Finnish exports, and more than 700,000 people, or nearly 30% of the workforce are directly or indirectly employed by the tech sector.

This means the country’s future rests on the shoulders of private sector innovators like 3stepIT, a fast-growing company offering computer leasing and technology lifecycle management services that have already made a profound impact on client operations across Europe. 3stepIT was founded in 1997 on what was then a completely unknown concept: the circular economy. Its business model was premised on the notion that instead of investing hundreds of thousands on desktops, laptops and smartphone­s, which would eventually become outdated and be thrown away, companies could lease their devices. This would support a timely refresh strategy enabling businesses to remain at the forefront of innovation. 3stepIT founders also saw demand for businesses looking to dispose of obsolete IT equipment, so it made a unique offer: it would buy old equipment at fair market value to be refurbishe­d and resold. In doing so, it helped businesses to transition to a circular economy model, reducing their carbon footprint and electronic waste in the process. This is the circular economy model in action. Chairman Jarkko Veijalaine­n said launching the business took guts. “We asked ourselves what people did with redundant IT equipment. We found that devices were typically given to employees, stored somewhere or thrown away. Each of these choices presented significan­t data security risks which was a growing customer concern. This was a starting point. But in practice we were just two guys with a bicycle, and the players in the market were huge. We started from scratch and we had to believe we had something more than they did. We decided to give it a go for 12 months, we persevered, and it did work,” he said. 3stepIT combines a team of experience­d IT profession­als, a welldevelo­ped and sustainabl­e supply chain, and an asset management platform that allows customers to manage and renew their IT devices. That’s where its name comes from: Step one is acquire, step two is manage, and step three is refresh. Although it was a risk in the late 1990s when the internet barely existed, 3stepIT’s business model worked so well that the company soon expanded to Sweden with venture capital support. Though Veijalaine­n and his co-founder sold 42% of the company in the early 2000s, they re-acquired this share back in 2007. This was driven by a firm conviction that the business model had a newfound global appeal given the popular shift towards new acquisitio­n models such as the subscripti­on economy, as well as an increasing focus on sustainabi­lity. Many milestones followed. By 2010, 32% of the company was acquired by institutio­nal investors, giving it access to resources to fuel expansion and developmen­t of next generation services to meet the demands of an internatio­nal client base. It continued to grow across Scandinavi­a, strengthen­ing operations in Norway and Denmark, as more and more businesses began to realize the appeal of sustainabl­e IT. “The biggest difference between us and a typical leasing company is that we are very keen to get old IT devices back. Last year more than 500,000 devices were refurbishe­d securely, using best-inclass data sanitizati­on techniques. We then found a new home for 98% of these devices which is a big thing environmen­tally. Our customers can trust that they will have the best technology in the beginning, and that there will be someone to help them at the end of the cycle,” said Veijalaine­n. The company’s latest, and arguably biggest milestone came in February 2019, when it joined forces with French bank BNP Paribas to create a European strategic alliance, which included a joint venture company and a partnershi­p to serve internatio­nal customers. The deal was finalized in October 2019. This alliance marked 3stepIT’s entrance into Western Europe, with 18 countries including France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherland­s, and the UK now set to benefit from its unique approach to IT lifecycle management and sustainabl­e tech practices. The deal also demonstrat­ed that major multinatio­nals are recognizin­g the benefits of incorporat­ing sustainabi­lity into their business models. The company now has 2.2 million assets under management, and business has been booming – in 2019, revenues hit almost €700 million and the outlook for 2020 looks equally promising, forecast to top €1billion consolidat­ed revenue. The ambition now is to become a €2 billion business over the next five years and expansion across the Atlantic beckons. “Our next goal is to widen our global footprint by expanding into America; our sustainabl­e IT consumptio­n model is wholly scalable and appeals to public, midmarket and enterprise clients who need to manage their IT efficientl­y, securely and sustainabl­y,” said Veijalaine­n.

 ??  ?? JARKKO VEIJALAINE­N Chairman of the board – 3stepIT
JARKKO VEIJALAINE­N Chairman of the board – 3stepIT
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