Digital Transformation – A world without paper?

Sign displaying no paper forms, books, filing or contract signing. A world without paper?

There is no doubt about it, we are in a digital age, but does that mean we can become a world without paper? Back in the 1970s technology pundits were convinced that within 20 years offices would be paperless. A big ask back then but now more than ever, we have the technology to make that a reality.

Paperless Business

With the advent of electronic forms, e-signatures, and accessible cloud storage to name a few, there simply isn’t a real reason for offices to not be paperless. The upside for any business considering going paperless is huge. Who can argue with statements like reduced risk, increased productivity, lower costs and effective business insight?

A simple business contract is a prime example. Delays in finalising the contract are often a result of the time it takes to track down the various signatories and then there is any business’s worst nightmare, a mislaid contract. E-signatures reduce the risk of mislaid contracts and increase productivity. As signing a contract is now quickly done by clicking on a link in an email. There are clear audit trails available, and the document is immediately ‘filed’ in a safe location.

Electronic forms are another advance making both businesses and their clients’ lives easier. No longer do you need to spend time printing out the form, manually completing it, scanning it, and sending it off. It can be even worse if the company requires the original completed form to be delivered. E-forms take out all the drudgery of form completion. And ask any business that is rebranding or needs to change the form how much easier it is when you are using e-forms. No need for recalling all those outdated forms, printing new forms, and ensuring all your relevant branches have stock.

How Things Have Changed

Gone are the days where we used to jump with joy on receiving our annual diary. Spending the next couple of days transferring those birthdays and other bits of information across from the previous year. Co-ordinating diaries within an organisation was also a nightmare. Between negotiating with the various assistants and trying to find a free conference room – the process could take days.

Speaking of meetings, the diligent note taking as the recorder wasn’t always trusted and then the delay as you waited for the minutes to be transcribed and put on your desk for review always took longer than you wanted. Nowadays you can easily record a meeting on a program like Teams and enable the transcription services. 

When it comes to embracing technology, whatever reasons we come up with are usually quickly countered with another technological advance. And a paperless office is definitely something we could in theory implement immediately.

Conclusion

But will we reach an age without paper? We don’t believe that will happen anytime soon. Take books, for example, advances now let you highlight, make notes, as well as provide insights as to what other readers found important. But some of us still prefer to turn pages. Taking notes or journaling is another example, there are exceptional technological tools out there but some of us still prefer to jot our notes, perhaps it’s just seeing our own personal handwriting that we don’t want to lose. So, on a personal level, we will probably still keep paper alive.

Even if you remove our personal preferences, paper is alive and well in the packaging industry and we don’t foresee any alternatives at the moment. Perhaps we need to stop looking at going paperless and simply use technology to improve existing processes and increase productivity.

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