Why does the printed document continue to thrive?
Our contributor this month is Tim Boggie from Watermark Technologies.
In an ever-developing technological world where cars now drive themselves and robots explore the surface of Mars, it’s remarkable that companies are still using paper-based processes on a daily basis.
Even large multi-nationals continue to be guilty of relying on antiquated systems in the face of rapid technological development. A recent survey by Quocirca* revealed that whilst 72% of organisations indicated that they are planning to increase their digitisation efforts, as many as 73% of organisations believe that printing is critical for their business processes. The results are contradictory and indicate the reliance many companies have on the printed document, whilst knowing that it makes sense to digitise their business process. Unfortunately the prevalence of paper continues to hold back the progress of many organisations.
We have integrated technology into our everyday lives – who would leave home without their mobile? There’s no doubt that there is less dependency on fixed, office-bound devices with many businesses replacing desktop PC’s with laptops, desk phones with mobiles and hosted cloud services for office servers. So why does the printed document continue to thrive? It’s hard to say why, but it’s certainly been a long road to digitisation when you consider that the idea of converting to a paperless office was popularized in a 1975 Business Week article**, which framed the benefits of a paperless office in terms of potential productivity gains and reducing financial costs, quoting a prediction that most corporate records would be handled digitally by 1990.That dream never transpired and this could be partially because the options to change were perceived to be too costly, disruptive and daily maintenance of a complex document management system not to be right for the business.
40 years on it has never been more important for companies to manage the storage, filing, organisation and movement of documents, letters, emails and information that come in and out of their business each day. With the available technology, business leaders recognise the added value of being able to access documents from anywhere using the convenience of mobile devices. Cloud technologies offer a whole new option to completely free up a business from the responsibility of managing their own IT infrastructure and reducing costs even further. And yet organisations are still resistant to making the change to paperless with paper use still frequent and abundant.
According to Rob Bamforth’s blog in Computer Weekly, “Information and data management should be such a simple thing for ‘information technology’ to deal with, however the weakness that IT often fails to overcome is in the ‘wetware peripherals’ (people). Companies and people, have preferences as to how information should be communicated. These are generally not ‘whims’, but relate to existing and often difficult to change, business processes.”***
There is an assumption that, in order to make paperless ‘work’, changes have to be made from the current paper-based business processes. But what if an alternative is available that mirrors the way people like to work – a bridge between the reassurance of paper and the undoubted efficiency of a digitised process? Sometimes we come across a solution that is the right one for the business, but it can be difficult to present radical alternatives to colleagues without the fear of being ridiculed. But as Peter F Drucker, known as the founder of modern management, once said, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” ****
Volume document management software offers that alternative. A document management system designed with the user in mind. A system that doesn’t need complex and time consuming indexing in order to file, store and retrieve your documents.