Paperless: Are We There Yet?

By Bob Larrivee posted 12-05-2014 14:13


I know, since the 1980s when document imaging hit the scene, we have heard the “paperless” mantra. As time passed and more of our information became digitally born, there was a sense that we were closer than ever to being paperless, yet, we are still not there. So the question we might ask is why? If information is born digital, why can we not be paper-free?

One of the reasons is found in the recent AIIM Industry Watch titled: “Paper Wars 2014 – an update from the battlefield”. Here we find that while 68% of organizations agree that business at the speed-of-paper is unacceptable, over half still print paper copies to take with them to meetings or for adding a signature; and the most resistant to go paper-free are those in the Legal and Finance departments.


 Figure 1: Which departments in your organization would you ay are the most resistant to the introduction of paper-free working?



 In My View

In my view, this is not a question of technology but rather a challenge of human behavior and change management. There is a level of comfort in holding paper, and the belief that in our business lives, if we can hold that piece of paper it is a real and authentic document. Strange how in our personal lives, we accept signing for purchases on a tablet at the register, having the receipt sent to us via email rather than a printed copy, and even make purchases online with no paper at all. And yet in our business lives, we still need to hold on to that paper.

As they say, old habits die hard, but there comes a time when it no longer makes sense to hold on to the past and begin moving into the future. I am not telling you to jump off the cliff. You have to plan for it and include not just technology in the discussion, but the people, processes, and governance as well. From a change management perspective, user engagement early on is one of the best ways to turn the corporate culture in the right direction. This should begin at the top with organizational leaders communicating the need, and dmeonstrating the benefits. Are we there yet? For some organizations, they are much closer, for others, the journey is just beginning. Where are you in your journey?

If you want to learn more about our findings, take time to join my colleague Doug Miles, as he discusses the survey results in his Paper Wars 2014 webinar on December 10. 

 What say you?

Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know. If you are looking for some great research information from our industry, feel free to visit our research site and download some of our Industry Watch Reports today at

Bob Larrivee, Director of Custom Research – AIIM
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