3 Step IT finds inspiration in circular economy
The Finnish company 3 Step IT has rapidly expanded internationally and now they see new opportunities in innovative business models.
I was intimidated by the coffee machine. It was brand new, with not even a fingerprint on its stainless steel surface. Unidentifiable spouts stuck out at odd angles and the screen displayed three different languages.
“We just got these installed,” says Miika Lampi, the international sales director for 3 Step IT.
3 Step IT just moved into new offices close to the Helsinki shoreline. After Lampi pressed a couple of buttons we had fresh coffee and he gave a tour of their nautical-themed offices with a view of the Baltic. The company is growing rapidly and needed new space. In 2014 they surpassed 500 million euros in sales and 18 million in pre-tax profit. Even the financial crisis didn’t damper their growth.
“Generally, in recessions companies make better choices about their costs,” Lampi explains. “We were also helped by market conditions, but our main advantage is that we have good people.”
3 Step IT helps companies manage their information technology. They lease their clients the equipment, manage it and then replace it, so the whole IT lifecycle is handled in three steps. It seems simple, but just like pressing a button on a coffee machine a lot is necessary to make it all run smoothly.
“We operate in the Nordics, Baltics and UK,” says Lampi. “In 2011 we moved into Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Last year Asia already made up ten per cent of our turnover, and it is a huge growth market. It could make up 50 per cent by 2020.”
The year 2020 seems like the far-distant future for a technology business, but 3 Step IT is already planning. The industry is changing, like with the move to cloud-based software and services. The end user is also evolving, such as how people switch between desktops, smartphones and tablets as they work. There are also new ways for the company to do business.
“The three steps are there, but we change and emphasise different things to better help the customer,” Lampi says. “For instance, in Finland we might expand services. Now in Islamic countries under Sharia law they don’t charge interest, so we are looking at Islamic leasing.”
A circle, not a line
The company participates in the circular economy, where resources are kept in circulation longer and new ways are found to recover and refurbish them. Where up until recently society exploited resources, used them and then disposed of them, the new model emphasises reuse.
“For example, let’s say a school in a developing country needs computers,” explains Lampi. “We could take old laptops from our clients, securely wipe the data and deliver the equipment to the school.”
3 Step IT already has three refurbishment centres in Britain, Finland and Sweden, and have a new one in Malaysia. Here their old leased equipment comes to be wiped and overhauled and then it is sold on to new customers.
“This complete cycle is important to us. We are working with a Swedish university on it,” he concludes. “We have all the elements in place and all we need are the right partners.”
Text: David J. Cord