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Not New, But Still Improved: How Refurbished Tech is Benefitting Flex

The benefits of using refurbished technology

Gleaming glass skyscrapers, pristine developments... Shiny and brand new is often revered above all else in commercial real estate, and flex is no exception. 

Unsurprisingly, this becomes particularly blatant when it comes to technology, where phrases like “bleeding edge”, “game-changing”, “next generation” and “disruptive” are ubiquitous. These tags are often slapped on technology products that are anything but. 

As a result, many landlords and operators, when kitting out a flex space with digital infrastructure, shy away from refurbished tech. One thing NCG hears time and again as a service provider is “well, is brand new not better?”. 

It might be clear where this is going but, in short, no. 

Refurbished tech just has an optics problem; ‘refurb’ has become a dirty word, with the prevailing (incorrect) view being that using second-hand tech or hardware is doing things on the cheap. When in reality 2023’s enterprise grade router can be the best, most advanced option whilst still fitting within modest tech budgets rather than buying now and buying cheap. Not to mention, being a more sustainable choice. 

So, let’s break it down. 

Why refurbed tech might be the right fit 

1. Major cost savings 

Let’s start with the glaringly obvious: secondhand tech is much cheaper than the equivalent brand new equipment. I’m talking, at least a quarter of the cost… For landlords and operators looking to manage their bottom line, this is a huge benefit. 

Insisting on brand-new solutions will needlessly drain funds - and is sometimes not an option when putting realistic quotes together for customers. Opting for top-quality refurbed equipment, allows you the same powerful functionality demanded by Enterprise clients, at a fraction of the cost. As smaller operators look to compete with their larger counterparts and their deeper wallets – as discussed in my column last week – refurbished tech offers a unique opportunity to level that playing field. 

That’s not to say refurbed solutions are always the cheapest option. Brand-new but poorly made, mass-produced hardware products are on the market, but beware: more than likely, they will deliver an unsatisfactory experience for users and your staff. If Google says you can purchase a Wi-Fi access point for £50, you probably don’t want to be running your operations from it… 

2. Rigorous quality assurance 

One of the biggest misconceptions holding back landlords and operators is that refurbished equipment is unreliable, at risk of grinding to a shuddering halt at any moment. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, with most refurbished equipment being just as dependable as kit plucked fresh from the production line. 

This is largely thanks to the rigorous testing and certification that second-hand equipment must undergo to make sure it’s still fit for purpose. 

And in the unlikely case something does go wrong? Reputable providers and vendors will also offer extensive warranties and maintenance services like upgrades and software patches that help keep already well-verified solutions in tip top shape. 

As another plus, even when disruptions in the global supply chain lead to delays and shortages, spare parts for refurbished equipment are more likely to be readily available, bypassing what can be an otherwise slow, headache-inducing hurdle. 

3. Superior security 

Data security is another common concern. Devices like routers, switches, and firewalls are often identified as pain points, containing sensitive configuration data and user information. What is less well promoted is that when a device is declared end of sales there can sometimes be ten years before the software element comes out of support. Even when support expires you can still use older devices in basic internal network roles keeping them secured from the outside world. It is all in the design. 

Of course, this is something service providers are keenly aware of and work hard to combat, ensuring refurbed hardware is no less secure than new. For instance, at NCG we can use ‘approved refurb’ networking equipment from reputable companies, ensuring our customers get the highest levels of security, at a fraction of the cost. While providing our own lifetime 

warranty to swap this equipment out in case it fails on any level. Certainly longer than any manufacturers guarantee! 

4. Planet-friendly 

It’s predicted that we’ll produce nearly 74 mega tons of electronic waste (aka, e-waste, or discarded tech) each year by 2030 – and we recycle just a tiny fraction. But when we repurpose existing equipment, not only do we keep perfectly good kit from ending up in a landfill, but we also preserve the raw materials that must be mined in order to make more. 

So, while it won’t move mountains, using refurbished equipment can be a valuable piece of the puzzle in a flexible portfolio’s wider sustainability strategy. 

It goes without saying that assessing specific business needs and ensuring that the chosen tech meets their exact requirements is an essential part of delivering the necessary digital solutions to power a flex space. But we must break the taboo surrounding refurbed tech. It is a narrative shaped by tech vendors and digital strategists who benefit commercially from convincing clients that everything must be bought fresh out-of-the-box, when the truth is that by focusing on the desired outcomes, a company can still achieve what it needs to by using refurbished tech. 

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