by Patricia Ames
It’s no surprise that we are drowning in information. According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day —so much that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. What’s more, this is expected to double in the next year and a half.
But what may surprise you is that much of that information is still in paper form. One research report from AIIM found that nearly half of businesses they spoke to said that the biggest single productivity improvement they could make would be to remove paper from their workflow. Indeed, 68 percent of respondents said that business at the speed of paper will be “unacceptable in just a few years’ time.” But despite this recognition, paper consumption is still increasing for one in five organizations in the survey.
“Less Paper” Initiatives Needed
One reason for the staying power of paper is the apparent lack of C-level level support for paper suppression. According to the AIIM study, just 19 percent of the organizations participating in the survey had a board-level endorsed policy to cut paper consumption. What is needed are more “less paper” initiatives with executive support. Consider these surprising statistics:
- The average American office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year. (Cleanair.org)
- The average American office makes 19 copies of each paper document. (Laserfiche)
- Offices also lose one out of 20 paper documents. (Laserfiche)
- These offices then spend up to $120 searching for every misfiled paper document. (Laserfiche)
- Paper accounts for up to 71.6 million tons of waste per year. (US Environmental Protection Agency)
- Paper makes up 28 percent of municipal solid waste, more than anything else Americans throw away. (US Environmental Protection Agency)
Stop the Fight
The battle with paper does not have to continue. You no longer need a budget fit for a Fortune 500 company and the use of specialized consultants to be able to go down the path to digitization. A new generation of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions has emerged with more tightly integrated features and functions that don’t require great investment or effort to adopt, and this should change the landscape of ECM significantly.
According to the CEB Tower Group, almost two-thirds of executives indicate that their firms will increase its their ECM spending within the next fiscal year. It seems that more and more C-level level decision-makers are recognizing that “digitizing" the paper in their organization is worth the work because it will allow them to take advantage of the latest ECM developments in new and more broadly strategic areas: improved marketing intelligence, better customer experience and a much more closely controlled custody of sensitive and confidential information.
How can you move forward? Here are three important areas to consider.
Use Distributed Capture for MFPs – Manufacturers are bringing new embedded MFP solutions to market at ever-increasing speed and companies should make note of the available benefits. One important one is distributed capture, where documents are entered into the business process at the MFP, creating a decentralized environment. This strategy allows for significant cost savings on services like postage and courier expenses, reduces paper consumption and perhaps most importantly, speeds data input and expedites the processing of critical documents.
Use Mobile Capture – The next step is mobile capture. Distributed Capture capture succeeds in incorporating capture all the way out to the far edges of the organization; mobile capture includes the ability to integrate this process beyond a company’s actual borders. Documents and data can now be captured via tablet and smartphone in the field, from remote offices and directly at the point of service. This allows for speedy, inexpensive and highly accurate process.
Use the Cloud – The global market for the cloud is soaring. Analysts tell us that cloud-based services now account for more than 50 percent of new IT spending. Less-paper approaches using capture and document management are ideally suited for the cloud and SaaS. Not only can you eliminate the paper, postage and carbon footprint, but you take advantage of transformational cloud-based advancements in on-demand capacity and self-service. Customer communications in the cloud help automate business processes, serve customers better and optimize operating expense.
Make the Right Steps
How do we get to the "paper-light” office? It’s important to make the right steps now. The good news is that many next-generation ECM solutions bring the critical functions that are needed most – document and data capture, content management and archiving, online viewing, and case management – together into one platform that does not require users to purchase and integrate separate parts and pieces. Look for providers and partners that provide the right mix of innovation and application that will help you reduce the burden of paper in your workflow and take advantage of the latest advancements in ECM technology.
Patricia Ames is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG, and has more than 10 years’ experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at email@example.com.