Monday, 1 December 2014

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!



Some people are, some people aren’t. Some people do, some people don’t. You say tomato and I say tomato (which doesn’t really work in print, does it? But hey you get the idea...). We are not all the same and our attitudes to everything are as different as chalk and cheese.

Being green is one of those things. Some people are passionate about it, some people just do their best to put things in the right bin but otherwise don’t worry about it too much. Let’s face it, even the scientists can’t quite agree on global warming and the politicians haven’t exactly brought any clarity to the issue, have they?

Personally, I am one of those people who like commonsense to prevail. We should all try not to do any harm to anyone or anything if we can possibly avoid it, and that includes the planet. Given the right information and no cost penalty for doing so, most people will do the right thing. But of course there is nearly always the cost penalty isn’t there?

Almost always, that is the barrier to establishing best practice as automatic behaviour. If it costs me money, I am going to resent doing it, and human nature being what it is, if I resent it I will do my utmost to get around whatever it is.

I fell out with someone over free education and free healthcare the other week. They said it was vitally important and I said it didn’t exist. It got quite heated, rather like Kendra and Edwina falling out in the jungle the other night, but without the bleeps. But I am right, of course. (I find that I am more often than not, and when I am not, the others are probably wrong too). We pay taxes and taxation funds schools and hospitals. If my protagonist had said free at the point of entry I might have agreed with her. I am annoyingly pedantic like that.

Now one thing I can say with certainty is that we all hate paying tax. And that is why when another bit of cost is slipped beneath the radar, the resentment is acute and the temptation to avoid it is almost too much to resist.

Businesses behave exactly the same, because businesses are run by people. In our working lives, if we can avoid paying for something it makes us feel good, it somehow justifies our existence. That does not make us Starbucks, it makes us human. But the trouble is we often don’t apply my commonsense test.

I have just spent a pleasant few hours going through two large and unnecessarily complicated tenders and ended up wittering on about risk management for quite a long time. Now that is a business term that makes many people shudder, as it brings to mind risk assessments and all that sort of jolly nonsense. But I want everyone to just stop for a minute and think what the term really means.

In any business decision there should be two overriding imperatives; what will I make out of it and what will it cost me? The purpose of business is to make a profit. There is no point in doing it if you cannot make money. But there are issues with penalties that need to be considered when making critical decisions, and that is risk management.

For instance, you maintain your vehicles properly so that your staff aren’t killed driving them. You have the fire extinguishers checked so that, God forbid, if the place does burn, someone can have a go at putting it out. Obvious reasons, and of course, if you don’t do them, you could be liable, or your insurance might not pay out. So everyone, more or less, does those things. Because you can see vans and fire extinguishers. It is tangible.

Data security is intangible. For a start data is one of those words which sucks the life out of a lot of people more often than not. And then there is the simple fact that no one takes the risk seriously. In that sense, it is a bit like health and safety.

I remember being a young sales rep visiting building sites as part of my daily routine, and we were provided with all the stuff; high visibility jackets, hard hats, safety boots. It was rare that any site manager asked me to wear them, maybe one in ten, and I avoided doing so if I could. It took a guy being mown down by a forklift to get the importance of visibility into my thick skull.

Risk management is about avoiding serious accidents, and in business terms that can mean loss of life or serious injury and/or loss of reputation and money. Like health and safety, it requires us to do lots of annoying things. I do not look good in Day-Glo yellow believe me.

So it is commonsense to try and manage risk, and it is commonsense to try and do things so that we do not harm the environment any more than we already have. And that is what eReco’s business is all about, since you asked. We reuse and recycle, and we protect your data, legally, transparently and responsibly. We are, in short, the good guys.

If you are with me so far, all you have to do is put the two things together when you are disposing of any IT equipment. Do it properly. It will not cost you a fortune and you will have managed the risk of losing your data, losing your reputation and being fined by the big bad regulator. And when your very own sometimes sulky teen asks you what use you are, you can say that you did your bit for the planet he or she will inherit one day.

It is not a lot but it is something. And it is better than saving yourself a few quid only to find it all blows up in your face.