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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Is Paperless-ness a Sexy Result or a Mundane Goal?

Have you noticed an increase in "paperless" talk?

Scuttlebutt generated by folks who make a living selling print/copy devices.  Their argument goes something like, "... I've been hearing about the paperless office since 1978.  It hasn't happened yet.  It's never going to happen..."

On the other side, parties are pushing the paperless office as worthy goal. Headlines like, "...Five Reasons You Should Go Paperless..." and "Go Green, Go Paperless..." haunt news feeds and timelines across the internet.

Who will find themselves on the wrong side of history?  Will businesses start printing like it's 1999 or does digital transformation impact everything BUT print and copy?

I'm going with the folks letting go of the past, challenging the present and riding technology into the future.

The paper less office is here, now.  I've seen it in businesses across the country and in varied industries.  My view is supported by the current standing of our Big 3; Xerox, HP, Lexmark.  If the business world is so enamored  with marks on paper, why are the jewels of our industry experiencing years of decline?

  • Is it because the world suddenly realized trees are not a renewable resource?
    • No, trees have always been renewable.
  • Is it because print and copy services are expensive?
    • No, cheaper than ever.
  • Is it because managed print services illuminated decades of overselling?
    • No. Customers do not care.
Business is moving away from printers and copiers because they are utilizing technology to enhance internal business processes.  Businesses aren't going paperless to go paperless, their continuously improving processes resulting in reduced costs and less paper.

One of my axioms:
"The more paper flowing through your organization, the less efficient your processes."
The past illuminates the future - Green columnar paper.

Not that long ago, company financials were calculated on green paper.  Sales, profits, operations plans were reviewed quarterly - 90 day old data was acceptable.

Then VisaCalc, MultiPlan and Lotus changed everything as hand calculations and mechanical pencils gave way to the QWERTY and mouse.

In an instant, general ledger reports could be generated in days instead of weeks.

In less than a decade, sales of green columnar binder paper dropped off a cliff.

Ask your CFO.

We weren't worried about saving trees or the Chewbacca's; new tools streamlined existing, paper based processes.

As a matter of fact,  output skyrocketed as paper-based workers printed everything from invoices to recipes, financial reports, emails and resumes sat abandoned in output trays around the globe - the salad days of office print.

The Internet of Printers? No.  The internet of Processes

Strange and wonderful things occurred over the last decade - 'clouds' support more efficient distribution of technology.  The internet generation occupy cubicles and boardrooms; continuous improvement collides with digital technology every day. Focus has shifted from faster mechanical devices to streamlined processes.

Information flows from one department to another; from human process to human process. Today, the slowest component of business processes is the conveyance of information via paper.

As technology permeates business operations, organic efficiencies eliminate paper as a mode of information transfer.   This is to say, implementing a paperless movement is not as effective as optimizing business processes when it comes to reducing paper use.  It is an 'inside-out' versus 'outside-in' approach.

The theme is simple:  instead of 'reducing paper usage' or saving trees, focus on increasing efficiency.

Have no doubt, as you eliminate redundancies, your paper, printer, copier, and supplies spend will decrease.

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