We've heard about the promise of the paperless office for years now, with little to no evidence of the promise translating to reality. But recent research by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) shows that maybe, just maybe, things are starting to change. 

According to the research, 84 percent of executives saw a return on investment from paper-free projects in as little as 18 months after the projects were initiated, with 26 percent saying they saw it within six months.

Of the 420 organizations surveyed for the report, "Paper-Free Progress: Measuring Outcomes," 20 percent reported paper usage increasing, while 49 percent said it was decreasing.

The net difference of 29 percent that are going paperless is up from the 23 percent in last year’s report and three percent in 2011.

“Slowly but surely, organizations are coming round to the idea that digitizing much of the content and information flowing through their business can have both financial and operational benefits,” AIIM President John Mancini said in a statement.

Mancini recognized long ago that paper will never be completely eliminated, but this is the first time that the annual AIIM report exploring the topic noted a definite move to digital content and processes.

Why Go Paperless?

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they were committed to digital transformation, but many noted their employees still don’t think before they print. Among the problems businesses face:

  • 35 percent said that most of the electronic invoices they receive get printed anyway
  • 34 percent agreed that most of the documents they scan are unchanged from printer to scanner
  • 31 percent admitted that their desk was "piled high" with documents, on average using 45 sheets of paper per day
  • 39 percent felt there was a general lack of understanding of paper-free options

The two main impediments to the paper-free office? A lack of management initiatives and staff preferences, both receiving 49 percent.

If it’s so difficult to get rid of paper, why make the effort? The business reasons (unrelated to preserving the environment) include: Digitizing documents speeds up processes, improves discovery and searchability, while mobile capture speeds up the process of disseminating information across the enterprise.

So even if you aren't a tree lover, there are plenty of reasons to take up the paperless challenge. 

Google Warnings

Google is developing warning signs about unencrypted emails, according to a post on its Online Security Blog.

Learning Opportunities

The warnings will appear when users receive messages from unencrypted sources. The company promised the new warnings will start appearing in the coming months.

The announcement follows new research into email security conducted by Google in partnership with the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan. The study showed that email is more secure today than it was two years ago, but Google claimed it would be developing more email security offerings in the coming months to preserve faith in email.

Office Reaches Further

Following on the release of Apple's iPad Pro, Microsoft announced that it has optimized the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote apps for the new tablet to offer users new multitasking features. Among the new features are:

  • Split View: Enabling users use two apps at once on the same screen
  • Slide Over: Slide screens to move from one document to the next, or one app to the next

While viewing documents is free, a qualifying Office 365 subscription is needed to create and edit documents in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on larger devices like the iPad Pro or Surface, consistent with the existing Office business model.

SIGNiX and MediTract Partner

Finally this week, e-Signature vendor SIGNiX and healthcare contract lifecycle management vendor MediTract announced a partnership that will bring SIGNiX's e-signature capabilities to MediTract's automated process manager solution.

MediTract’s process manager workflow functionality is a healthcare-specific, enterprise solution that couples contract management with compliant contracting processes.

SIGNiX’s Independent E-Signature solution permanently embeds legal evidence of a signature into a signed document in a way that meets the strict compliance standards of the healthcare and life sciences industries.

The partnership is just one of a number over the past few months that shows e-signatures slowly gaining a foothold in even highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  rubber bullets