SwanIT is the first truly sustainable IT service provider. Their core lies in the areas of networks, end-user devices and device management, IT Sustainability as a service as well as specialty consulting. 

SwanIT’s story began in 2017 when the founder, Tuulia Virhiä, wanted to make a change after working in countries where the dark side of IT was indisputable. Having seen human rights violations, mountains of electronic waste shipped in from Europe and the health hazards it caused, she was determined to find a better way.  

Interview with Amanda Shonubi, Sustainability Director & Tuulia Virhiä, Chief Executive Officer at SwanIT.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Amanda Shonubi & Tuulia Virhiä: SwanIT focuses on providing services in the areas of IT where the most impact can be made. According to a recent study, devices are the biggest single area of impact in IT (Becker, Bhargava, Del Miglio, Lewis, & Sachdeva, 2022). We have designed our services in a circular model. By doing this we want to reduce emissions, minimize the pressure to manufacture and thus mine virgin materials, that inadvertently lead to severe human rights violations. We always aim to lead the devices to at least a second lifecycle. At the end of the device life we ensure that the device gets disassembled to component level and valuable materials are extracted and released back for the industries to use. 

In the center of all this is our service layer. Our service desk and onsite support make sure the end-users and IT organizations get support and timely resolutions to incidents. The device management team designs environments that support useability and security and enables longer device lifecycles. They monitor, predict and fix issues before they ever reach the end-user. On the network side of things, our highly skilled architects and technicians design efficient, secure, and reliable solutions. 

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

A.S & T.V: The distinctive feature of our service is the circular model that encompasses ownership and accountability of devices all the way to material recycle phase. New services and value streams are discovered continuously as we work together with our customers and other stakeholders on our services. 

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

A.S & T.V: SwanIT works closely with the world’s biggest manufacturers and offers only the most sustainable options available. We evaluate and investigate the devices thoroughly including but not limited to materials, recyclability, carbon footprints, expected lifecycles and manufacturers. 

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

A.S & T.V: Geographically speaking our main market Finland is rather mature and even saturated in terms of IT service providers. However, there are no companies with sustainability as the driving force of the business. While some of our competitors claim to be in the circular economy space or doing things green, we have found most claims to lack in this area. 

Shonubi Amanda

Speaking in the terms of adaptation of sustainable IT service or sustainability in IT, the whole market is still in the early stages of adoption. The market has long focused on novelty value, homogenous groups as decision makers and price aggressive selection and buying. In the last years the cybersecurity aspect has gained significant position in the space and is considered high value added that then justifies a higher price. 

While sustainability is gaining similar positioning in industries and business on a general note, IT has yet to adopt the same thinking. CIOs rarely have obligation to purchase according to sustainability criterion or even know what the criterion or aspects would be, and IT impact is usually reported using statistical factors rather than company specific calculations. Higher pricing on the account of sustainability is rarely acceptable even if it means higher quality and lower costs on the long term. We are calling for accountability in the market. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

A.S & T.V: The IT market trends are leaned towards security, quality, efficiency, and lower costs. Additionally, the cloud transformation continues to gain surface. While manufacturers are facing increasing pressure to improve and report sustainability efforts, the buying side of the market is yet to wake-up to the importance. 

Tuulia Virhiä

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?

A.S & T.V: The global political and economic climate continues to create a lot of uncertainty in the market. There are doubts to sufficiency of natural resources and the continuity in the manufacturing of components as well as financial security of businesses. Pressure to cut costs, energy expenditure and increase efficiency is on. For us, this creates great opportunities. Our services ultimately cut IT device costs up-to half as they aim to increase lifecycle and reduce purchases. Additionally, this model reduces the pressure and concern over availability of devices. They also play a part in natural resource availability as the devices are ultimately recycled for materials such as aluminum, plastic, other metals, and minerals while reducing the pressure for virgin mining.   We support our customers in evaluating and measuring of energy efficiency and expenditure during purchase process as well as the lifecycle. 

We expect 2023 to be a year of awakening in the market to evaluating the dysfunctional and dated ways and hopefully waking up to a sunnier future tomorrow.