Smart devices may be smart, but many of the widespread views or assumptions on how they and our personal data should be handled when in for repair or refurbishment, is not quite as sophisticated, reports Sven Boddington, Vice President Global Marketing & Client Solutions at Teleplan International.
As consumers, we are becoming increasingly reliant on our mobile devices, from basic communications, social media, mobile banking and payment transactions, meaning the data they carry is, year on year, becoming more and more sensitive. Therefore, the refurbishment cycle of smart devices is an increasingly essential, if often overlooked, consideration that all retailers, suppliers and manufacturers must take to ensure that devices re-enter the market as soon as possible and meet industry standards.
A smartphone that is destined for repair
According to the International Advertising Bureau (IAB), the average UK household has 8.3 mobile devices and there are now more electronic devices in use on the planet than there are human beings. However, these items frequently don’t withstand the daily wear and tear they are put through.
For example, one in three mobile phones require repair in the first 15 months. If the renewal process is not properly managed, it could be damaging for individuals or businesses if data is not fully removed, faults rectified, or the latest software updates not made. The utmost attention should be taken whether a smartphone is destined for repair, refurbishment, same unit return, swap, resell or recycle.
Security and privacy concerns
It’s an unfortunate occurrence that second-hand devices are being sold with personal data remaining on them. There is a duty of care from manufacturers and resellers to ensure that the proper security procedures are applied, ensuring that all data is thoroughly and permanently destroyed. It is not good enough to delete data to a ‘basic standard’ or worse still, not at all. For example, if there is malicious intent, it can sometimes be possible to recover the previous owners’ photos, videos, web history etc., on an old phone that has undergone a factory reset.
Although the majority of higher end smartphones in recent years have combatted this by introducing encryption technology that does make this much safer.
Managing the process of reverse logistics, repairing or replacing devices and getting them back into the hands of the consumer can be challenging but there is an obligation to comply with data protection laws. One way of doing this, is to meet recognised industry standards such as HMG Infosec (UK) and NIST 800-88 (US National Institute of Standards and Technology). A specialist aftermarket sales provider can help with this.
The speed and efficiency of device repair
Specialists are continually optimising processes to increase the speed and efficiency of device repair to accurately and systematically diagnose and restore products with optimal throughput. An example of this is the Revolution Ecosystem Platform developed by Teleplan’s in-house team, which automates the entire testing process, while also improving both productivity and output quality that is controlled and verified through collected data points.
This includes an intelligent multi-brand smartphone initialisation station that automates and provides visible and auditable proof that a device has been subject to minimum battery charge, data deletion and operating system update. While the industry’s first full automated smartphone tester provides consistent, reliable and accurate testing that can reduce test times by up to 70%. This results in significant reductions in labour processing time and the likelihood of any customer getting back a faulty product – enhancing customer satisfaction.
A product’s lifecycle
Refurbishment is an essential part of a product’s lifecycle, by extending its useful life you are not only maximising value but also reducing the consumption rate of the elements needed to produce new electronics.
Attention to repair and restoration methods can go a very long way. A careful choice of durable cosmetic parts, materials, finish and design can also help to keep the refurbishment yield high, the process practical and its cost low. While re-kitting and re-packing the item professionally can also guarantee an out-of-the box experience similar to buying one brand new.
Selling reconditioned devices can also be a lucrative additional revenue stream for manufacturers and operators and will only strengthen trusted brand reputations if refurbished products are of a high quality.
Consumer demand for second hand electronic devices shows no sign of abating, with Gartner reporting that the worldwide market for refurbished smartphones will hit 120 million units by 2017, for a projected US$14 billion in wholesale revenue. Therefore, electronics device manufacturers, mobile operators, retailers and insurers need to work together to continue to formalise easy, transparent and safe processes to serve this demand.
As an industry we must keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times. Looking at how we can constantly improve on how we are re-using, maintaining and disposing of goods cost-effectively and responsibly should be top of mind.
Edited for web by Jordan Platt.