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Businesses’ love-hate relationship with paper

Cássio Vaquero, Regional Director, Information Management division, for APAC and Latin America, Kodak Alaris | Jan. 13, 2016
With the increase of digital information and conveniences, the need for paper seems to be waning, but is it really? Have we fully made the leap to a paperless society?

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

In today's day and age, multiple books can be downloaded and read on a single e-reader. In many parts of the world, people can now travel cashless with solutions such as Uber, Visa paywave, digital wallets,  and a myriad of mobile payment apps.  

With the increase of digital information and conveniences, the need for paper seems to be waning, but is it really? Have we fully made the leap to a paperless society? The answer is no.

Behind the sleek shiny counters of banks, hospitals, retail and customer-service outlets, it is no surprise to find a room full of stacked papers documenting transactions, loan agreements, medical health records, legal documents etc. While we're in the age of digital information, the problems of paper is still binding.

As new non-paper inputs are coming into the organisation (think emails with or without PDF attachments, for instance), we almost by default still print and thus convert them to paper. Notes are scribbled on these printouts, sometimes endorsed with signatures, and then scanned into soft copies. In fact, it is estimated that 45 percent of the documents that are scanned are born digital.

While organisations are moving towards making information more fluid and are increasingly hosting digital data in the cloud. We cannot stray from the fact that data is still streaming in from various sources, especially paper.

Only 36 percent of organisations are making significant progress towards paper-free processes. Businesses cannot fully let go of paper.

 Why can't we let go?

1. Signature security
One of the traditional areas for paper use is collecting signatures. Approvals on official documents come with stamps and authorised signatories that need to be accurately scanned to create digital copies. Many businesses are trying to make the shift from handwritten signatures to e-signatures.

In an AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) survey, 79 percent agree that they should have an e-signature mechanism. However many are still unable to do this - 56 percent still used paper for signatures - and hence are reducing their efficiency by requiring hand-written signatures on digital documents. There is technology enabling secure e-signatories, however adoption, especially in the APAC region, is slow.

2. Legislation
As progressive as businesses are becoming, certain documents still need to be legally kept in paper/physical format. Our personal identification cards, driver's license, legal case files and court documents, health records, are some key documents that are recorded on paper and scanned for digital records. However, they have yet to make a full shift to being recorded digitally. Till then, organisations need to religiously create digital copies. Paper documentation remains a necessity for legislature proceedings.

 

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