TL; DR: Boasting component-based software programs for everything from enterprise resource planning to field service management, IFS helps companies meet and anticipate changing technology and business standards. By focusing on asset management, manufacturing processes, and supply chain oversight, global enterprises can more efficiently regulate the entire lifecycle of their products and supervise the proper disposal of the used goods. More than 3,500 IFS employees worldwide serve actionable business intelligence to more than 1 million users worldwide.
Even though InkCycle already prevents millions of empty inkjet cartridges from entering the country’s landfills, the company sought to re-engineer its processes to become even more environmentally friendly.
During peak months, InkCycle remanufactures and recycles more than 1.7 million used cartridges for office supply retailers and resellers.
“It is critically important for us to be able to not only bring in that many items, but to be able to track the cartridge type, as well as its source,” Executive Vice President Brad Roderick said in a case study. “Attempting to do this type of tracking manually is not an option. If I needed to create the records manually, InkCycle would be out of business.”
The company turned to the IFS suite of enterprise resource planning and asset management software to oversee cartridge information and customer data. Since 1983, IFS Applications has helped enterprises cover a variety of core business processes: asset management, manufacturing, project administration, service management, and supply chain oversight.
“IFS allows a much more efficient transfer of information by customer and by contact,” Brad said. “The fact that customer records are integrated with backend manufacturing, eCommerce, and other tools allows us to manage our growing customer care organization.”
IFS Solutions Enable Companies to Properly Reuse and Dispose of Waste
IFS software addresses the entire lifecycle of a company’s products and assets, meaning enterprises can track each component to ensure proper disposal in accordance with local regulations.
Increasing numbers of enterprises are seeking to measure their products’ carbon footprint, according to IFS Senior Advisor Bill Leedale, who said the trend has gained momentum for the past 20 years.
Making the eco-friendly challenge particularly demanding for enterprises are the wide variations in laws deeming what is legally disposable in particular states, countries, and continents.
“If you want to do business in other parts of the world, you have to play by their rules,” Bill said. “You need to adopt a standard where you can play anywhere because it’s really expensive to try to produce something three different ways.”
Electronic waste can leach toxins, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, into nearby soil and water. The US does not federally regulate the use and disposal of hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products, but 25 states currently enforce electronics recycling laws. In the European Union, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, or RoHS, strictly governs and restricts which electronics can go into landfills.
“It’s all about taking the end-of-life products and recycling as much as you can to keep it out of the landfills,” he said. “A lot of the things in your lovely devices are recyclable.”
For companies that opt to refurbish and repair returned devices, IFS oversees field service management systems, which include optimizing customer service centers, scheduling technicians, tracking spare parts, and administering warranties and service contracts.
“It’s all about getting into the hands of the person who needs to do the maintenance,” Bill said. “It’s telling them what needs to happen, tracking the hours they spend and the materials they need, all in the most efficient way possible. That’s one of the real sweet spots of IFS.”
Using Software to Boost Compliance and Corporate Citizenship
Regardless of what’s allowed in a landfill, Bill said IFS works with enterprises to reduce overall waste and the environmental impact in the communities in which enterprises operate.
“We only have one planet,” he said. “Even if waste reduction and environmentally friendly practices are not a requirement in the country where you do business, you still have to care about it to be a good corporate citizen.”
The IFS enterprise resource planning software includes a wide range of tools for reporting non-financial metrics, such as those associated with legal compliance, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.
The International Organization for Standardization loosely based its ISO 26000 standard for corporate social responsibility on the UN Global Compact, which promotes human rights, fair labor, environmental protection, and anti-corruption measures.
“There are these 10 elements of treating people well, caring for the environment, and paying workers fairly,” Bill said. “All of those things play in the technology industry. With the internet, you just really can’t hide. There’s something to be said about goodwill because most organizations operate at the will of the people.”
Twenty years ago, according to Bill, companies adopted a mindset of looking for “software to run my business, now go away.” Now, IFS helps customers interested in measuring the impacts and insights gained by reducing its products’ environmental footprint.
“Wherever you’re operating, you’re in a culture that is going to be cognizant of whether you’re acting in a good way or not,” he said. “If you are doing your best to bring back those goods and not waste those resources, then you’re going to find a community that’s a lot more friendly to your business.”
Safeguarding Programs and Business Data Internally and for Customers
During the past three to four years, Bill said he has noticed a big shift in how closely organizations are vetting the security protocols and features in IFS Applications. From two-factor authentication to meeting defense industry requirements, IFS has deployed numerous measures — both internally and in its software products — to protect sensitive information.
“We’re adding more security features constantly so customers can take advantage of better login tools and ways to keep your data more secure,” Bill said, adding that he sees the same questions in seemingly every request for proposal he’s looked at over the past four or five years: What are your security measures? How are you going to keep my data secure?
“They want to know how you are going to help them best protect their data and have the information they need to deal with their customers and regulators around the world,” he said. “That has been the emphasis for a long time, and it continues to grow. As long as we find ways to plug security holes, there will always be somebody out there trying to find another one.”
As with environmental impacts and corporate citizenship, Bill said a strong attitude toward data security reinforces positive customer relationships and brand reputations.
“As we grow into the future, the expectations of our customers are greater,” he said. “It’s no longer just about the product you provide. Whether it’s hardware or software, customers want you to do more than just provide a product. They want you to help figure out the best way to use it.”