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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The paperless office.... myth or possibility?

I recall that when the computer first entered my work life, I was told that it would be the end of paper.  I am still waiting for that to manifest.  All I see is more paper than ever.  People of all ages are still drowning in paper.

I do have one client who has managed to limit the paper, using computers, smart phones, scanners and whatever else, she manages to be a successful Realtor without accumulating too much personal paper.  And that is the caveat, while she keeps her paper to a minimum, still in the world of Real Estate there is a TON of paper required. The secret is to get the paper into someone else's hands and not keep it in yours.

Recently, when I met with a networking specialist, she advised that paper is now a generational thing.  Anyone over 45 still expects paper to be mailed or faxed and still prints out copies of almost everything.  Anyone over 60 still responds to snail mail, hence all the election junk mail.  Anyone under 30 doesn't want anything to do with paper.  As I am somewhere in the middle of this, I expect both.  Though I was surprised when I bought my new printer/scanner/copier/fax, the Office Depot sales associate couldn't figure out why I wanted the fax included. "Who faxes anything anymore?"  "It's for my mother." I answered sheepishly...

I found a great article on this subject by CNN correspondent, Thom Patterson, Is the paperless office here at last?

The dream of the paperless office started way back in 1975, when BusinessWeek magazine predicted "a collection of ... office terminals linked to each other and to electronic filing cabinets."
"It will change our daily life," said one bold technology expert quoted in the article. Said another expert: "By 1990, most record handling will be electronic."
Twenty years after that unmet deadline, a national survey found that businesses have chosen to use paper printouts to archive 62 percent of important documents.
The survey of 882 companies, released in February by the content management association AIIM, indicates that most businesses believe paper documents are needed for legal reasons.
So what happened? Where is this streamlined office of the future, free of clutter and file cabinets, that was promised back in the '70s?
By the mid-1990s, the nation was actually moving in the opposite direction.
More and more workstation computers and printers contributed to a big jump in office paper consumption well into the 2000s, according to industry experts.
Before taking a hit from the recession, the estimated number of office pages printed, copied and faxed annually in the U.S. peaked in 2007 at more than 1.019 trillion, according to InfoTrends, a Massachusetts-based market research and consulting firm.
InfoTrends analyst John Shane blamed the nation's love of office printing and copying on convenience.
I recently got an IPAD, which I am reluctant to take out of the house.  I have seen lots of people using them, especially the new retailers, like food stalls and food trucks, and I've never asked for a receipt at any of these places.    While I use my IPAD at home, I don't worry about printing anything out because I have the IMAC and that wireless printer/copier/scanner/fax.  Just don't tell the guy at Office Depot....

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. I used to work in the insurance industry where tons of paper were the norm. Interestingly enough, from May 1978 thru December 1979, the brokerage I was working at achieved a pretty paper-less environment! Alas, because of desk-top computer crashes, folks got scared they would lose valuable information and so they started printing out emails and anything else they thought was important... now, in any insurance brokerage, paper creation is at an all-time high - too bad.


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