The paperless office is an illusion? So what!

More and more companies are realizing that they can not only use Enterprise Content Management and digital workflows to significantly simplify and accelerate their internal processes, but also improve their brand perception by customers and business partners at the same time. Of the many bits of news produced by a current study on document management in Germany, this is likely one of the most welcome.

 

Companies haven’t quite said farewell to paper

Many people are saying that the investigation by IDC: “Print and Document Management in Germany 2016” basically boils down to one thing: the paperless office will still be an illusion for quite some time. It is true that such sentiments were to be found many places in the report. And yes, it’s true that we still wish the “paperless office” would
come along sooner rather than later. But be honest: this study doesn’t have the last word. Saying goodbye to paper is a process, after all – sometimes it moves quickly, and sometimes slowly.

 

Decisive factors: processes and customer perception

A question we find much more relevant to corporate success is whether companies decide to maintain their digital documents alongside paper versions of the same thing. If they do, they’ve really lost out on the positive effects ECM and workflows can have on their process landscape. Happily, it seems that decision-makers are realizing that this is the case. Nine out of ten study participants see that ECM and workflows make internal processes more efficient. One third even realize that “customer experience” improves, and that ECM and workflows are relevant to corporate image. One in five also believes that automated business processes and digital document management facilitate new business models.

 

Highest priority: efficient workflows

The results are consistently looking up: 56 percent of decision-makers consider digitizing document-intensive workflows as their top priority. Two years ago, this goal struggled to make it into the top 3. Another revealing result is that study participants see quick access to information as even more important than audit-proof archiving. 42 percent wonder how they can efficiently make the huge volume of unstructured information available to them. This includes data from e-mails, the web, social media, and similar sources, which they want to be accessible in an efficient way.

With that being said, we’re happy to let the goal of a paperless office take a little snooze. It doesn’t seem like most companies will be doing totally without paper anytime in the foreseeable future. Instead, let’s focus all our attention on processes, on increasing efficiency, and on preparing information and making it easily available. People clearly recognize the need, and budgets will follow suit. We’re getting a good start on products, such as the newly released EASY Capture Plus 5. This is plenty of reason to be optimistic – no matter if it does take offices another five or twenty years to finally go paperless.