Play this game next time you are in traffic: count all the newest-looking cars (three years or younger) you can and divide by three.
Why is the number three important in this exercise? Two reasons:
- 33% of all cars on the road will have to replace their battery in the next 12 months.
- The typical lifespan of a car battery is approximately three years (however, the general range of a car battery’s lifespan is two to six years).
After you have counted and divided, ask yourself: once battery life ends, does it make sense for the owner of a vehicle less than three years old to buy a new battery or a new car?
Correct. It is better to purchase a $200 battery instead of a $25,000 car, especially if there is nothing wrong with it except for the battery.
It is a logical assumption for almost anything running on batteries: cars, television remote controls, electronic toys, smoke detectors, etc.
But when it comes to mobile devices in the enterprise, global IT decision-makers often replace the device itself when battery life comes to an end.
Why is that?
Why are PERFECTLY GOOD DEVICES DISCARDED WHEN ONLY THE BATTERY NEEDS REPLACING?Find Out in Reduce, Reuse, Rethink: From Discard Mentality to Tech Sustainability
IT Departments Lose Productivity by Not Actively Managing Devices and Waste Budgets with Random Battery Replacement
According to the SOTI sustainability report, 44% of devices used by organizations contain replaceable batteries. However, only 33% of annual IT budgets are earmarked for replacing the batteries in these devices.
It is like buying a car and slashing the budget for gasoline while mandating extra funds for the next car you will purchase. It doesn’t seem logical, but it is being done by IT departments all over the world for a variety of reasons:
- Budget contraction: “If you don’t spend it, you don’t need it.” IT decision-makers may feel compelled to spend their allocated budgets. Otherwise, they may shrink in the future.
- The misbelief that expected device life and battery life are similar: 52% of global IT decision-makers replace battery-powered devices like tablets and laptops according to ‘expected’ lifecycles, even if battery health is good. Looking at this from a different perspective, there is no need for battery monitoring or new battery purchases if the entire device will be replaced.
- Better to be safe than sorry: Nearly 80% of organizations experience a mid-shift battery failure and when it does happen, workers lose an average of 50 minutes of productivity. When one battery life ends, IT may simply decide to replace the entire fleet – batteries and devices – at once to prevent it from happening again.
Whether it is due to budget concerns, a misunderstanding of the difference between battery life or device life, or the risks associated with device downtime due to battery failure, the results are the same: mobile device batteries are being discarded at an alarming rate and this negatively impacts the health of the planet.
Longer Battery Life Equals Longer Device Life and a Healthier Planet
In the U.S., the average lifespan of a fleet of smartphones in the enterprise is 2.42 years and by 2025 it is expected to drop to 2.28 years. In other words, over a 10-year span a business will turn over its total deployment of smartphones at least four times.
Also in the U.S., 140 million rechargeable batteries and their devices are discarded each year. To put that in perspective, that is approximately 16,000 devices every hour.
Two questions must be asked:
- How many of those enterprise devices were in perfect working order when they were replaced?
- How many of those 140 million devices would stay in acceptable working condition if only the battery was swapped out?
When smartphones and their batteries end up in landfills bad things can happen:
- Chemicals inside the batteries, such as cobalt and nickel, can seep out and make their way through the soil.
- If batteries are incinerated the chemicals pollute the air.
- In extreme cases, discarded batteries can cause waste facility fires or explosions in the backs of garbage trucks when they are compacted.
IT decision-makers are choosing convenience over sustainability. This impacts both the planet and bottom line results.
On average an organization spends approximately $1,817 (USD) on mobile enablement per employee every two years. Multiply by four (as noted above by how many times enterprise devices are turned over in a decade) and you end up with $7,268 (USD) spent over a decade for one employee.
If your organization has 500 employees, this means you will spend a total of $3,634,000 (USD) in 10 years on mobile enablement.
The solution is to limit the number of batteries – and by extension their devices – ending up in landfills by prolonging battery lifespan.
Monitor Battery Health and Act on Data, Not Assumptions
Going back to the car example at the beginning of this blog, drivers do not fill up until the gas gauge is close to empty. They do not get an oil change until they have passed set mileage on the odometer. They do not put air in the tires without knowing how much is already in there and how much is needed.
With smartphone batteries though, it seems like guessing when to replace them and replacing mobile devices completely, whether the batteries are healthy or not, are the only two options.
There is a third option, however.
Monitoring battery life helps extend battery life, which in turn extends device life and reduces e-waste. According to Reduce, Reuse, Rethink: From Discard Mentality to Tech Sustainability, 60% of IT decision-makers agree managing mobile devices is an important environmental issue for their organization. Battery management is an extension of device management. Understanding the health of the batteries enables you to either extend battery life and only make battery replacements that are necessary.
This helps the environment as well. For all the e-waste generated globally (54 million metric tons), only 20% gets recycled. It is a shockingly low number and until it increases, the best and simplest course of action is to reduce e-waste by extending battery life and device life.