Friday, 27 March 2015

Spock says it is not logical

Hoarding is easier. I think every man knows that deep down, but most of us live with women who do seem to get an extra chromosome...the tidy gene. At home that means the remote control does not live on the sofa and that newspaper from last Wednesday is not going to turn into a fixture...if you want to live. But at work, we have rather more power and I have never known a store cupboard or room yet that is not a male preserve.

I am not being sexist here. I am all for equality and have personally never craved storeroom control but it is just a fact of life. Where there is a growing pile of junk a man is involved. He naturally sees the effort and potential problems involved in getting rid and has never yet derived any real pleasure in seeing any space clutter free. It only a member of the fairer sex who can spend countless hours cleaning a room and then declare that it was all worthwhile because it looks so clean and tidy. A man would much prefer to close the door and watch the footie.

So the storeroom tends to fill up over time. There are the stores of course...the paper, maybe some toner for the printers, a bit of stationary...but the most interesting stuff is the waste. You know what I mean. The stuff we all know we are finished with but getting rid of it completely would take some real positive action. The broken chair, those old filing cabinets, that fax machine no one was using anymore, the accounts printer that only prints when it feels like it and that old desktop that crashed last month.

This is the stuff you cannot put in the bins round the back of the office. It’s easy to get rid of waste paper and discarded coffee cups and milk cartons. You have bins for that and the collection is all arranged on a bi-weekly basis with that nice man in the hi-viz jacket, but he does not take broken chairs and he does not take old computers. And the old computers are tricky. Dimly in the back of your mind, you remember that it has a hard drive. You cannot just throw that away. So putting it in the boot of the car and slipping it down the local tip is not really an option. You know you are not supposed to do that with business waste anyway but the hard drive worries you, a little. Not enough to do anything else but stack it in the storeroom though. Because it is safe there. Out of sight and out of mind.

Except that is not the answer. Not forever. Eventually the storeroom gets full. Eventually someone with influence suggests that it looks like a tip in there. Sooner or later you are forced to face up to the fact that this stuff has to go.

Ideally at this point you realise that your first priority should be data security, closely followed by the demands of sustainability. In other words, get it data clean then recycle it. And herein lies the problem of course, because it is at this point where some people get the impression that someone will clear their storeroom for free, whilst meeting their various priorities.

Let’s recap. This is waste. You know it and I know it. Not only has it been in that storeroom since Clive Sinclair last had a glint in his eye but it was put there because it is BROKEN. Your list of stuff includes a few bits of IT equipment, a few bit of general WEEE and some broken down old office furniture. And yet you expect someone to come and get it, give you all the right paperwork, erase your data and recycle the kit for...nothing.

Sorry Jim, this is not logical. And the problems are all caused by people not understanding what we are doing here. This is about the data and the planet. We all have a legal responsibility to protect the data we hold that concerns other people. That sounds reasonable to me. I do not want any business or organisation that has my personal details risking any sort of breach thank you very much. And the government and the European Union take it seriously enough to pass laws making it illegal, with very large fines. Quite soon directors will be held responsible, and could end up going to jail if they are found guilty of some seriously nefarious data related disaster.

So before you hand your entire database over to some free collection service, be bloody sure that they are going to do things properly....for nothing remember. Of course sir, your data will be rubbed out using a J-cloth and some white spirit, when old Joe gets around to it. Well if old Joe gets around to it. Nothing really to worry about, because we will be sending it to Africa anyway...

Which brings us back to the planet. Tossing your data away might cost you £500k, which turns a free collection into a very expensive mistake. But not ensuring that your equipment is properly recycled is quite literally a crime against nature. I am relatively new to this industry but I have come to hate landfill, and the idea that we can countenance so many people cheating the regulations to make a profit, or in our example’s case save a few quid.

I am beginning to resent losing orders to these free services. Part of that is my natural inclination to compete. I like winning you see, and therefore hate losing. I am not and never have been a good loser. I make Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Alex Red-Nose Ferguson look positively cheery by comparison with me. But that is because they usually play on a level playing field.

£100 to get rid of a pile of junk legally, morally and responsibly is not a bad deal. Nothing to get your database on eBay and your old equipment into landfill in Ghana is a terrible deal.