Paper use declining in more than half of businesses

Posted on Jan 18 2017 - 10:00am by Editorial

Digitalisation is more than just the buzz-word du jour. As new research from AIIM shows, the transition from paper-based to electronic processes is having a significant effect on how information is distributed, with half of business executives reporting a decrease in the amount of paper received by their organisation – 9% of respondents describe this fall as rapid.

Paper free day November 4th

Paper free day November 4th

Released in the run-up to World Paper Free Day (WPFD) on November 4, AIIM’s latest annual survey of paper use in the workplace Paper-Free in 2016, Are we there yet? highlights the progress businesses are making towards eliminating paper.

Two thirds of respondents say that demand for paperless processes is growing, with 25% claiming to run a clear/paper-free environment, up from 18% in last year’s report. The main benefits of going paper-free are faster customer response times (50%) and higher productivity (42%).

The business functions that have shown the greatest fall in paper use are Human Resources (HR), particularly in the areas of recruitment (49%) and employee lifecycle (48%); Accounts Payable (41%); and Accounts Receivable (39%).

Almost half (45%) of businesses achieve payback on their paper-free investment within six months; one in 10 (9%) does so within just three months.

Despite this progress, it is unlikely that all business processes and transaction will go paper-free any time soon. Reasons given for sticking with paper include the human factor when handling, reading and note taking (47%); a lack of management initiatives to move away from paper (47%); and a lack of understanding and awareness when it comes to paper-free options (39%). Two thirds (65%) of business executives still use handwritten signatures on paper.

AIIM chief analyst Bob Larrivee remains optimistic nonetheless. He said: “People instinctively like paper, and for many it still feels natural to print out a document to read, sign, edit or share. But things are gradually changing as people become more comfortable using technology for such tasks and realise that e-signatures are just as valid as physical ones. Enterprises are also seeing the benefit of digitising content, in terms of customer service, collaboration and overall productivity, which will only help the move to paper-free.”

To download a copy of Paper-Free in 2016, Are we there yet? or to find out more about World Paper Free Day (WPFD) 2016, please visit:

Scanning in the UK
UK SMEs regard network connectivity as the most important scanner feature, followed by the ability to integrate with document management systems and having a simple user interface, according to research by Brother UK.

Nick Gosden, Head of Scanner Category at Brother UK, attributes the popularity of these features to growth of collaborative working, an increasingly mobile workforce and the need for more efficient document capture and workflow.

He said: “These findings confirm the trajectory of the scan market, with businesses seeking integrated solutions rather than products that stand in isolation. With scanner use most common among business functions like customer communications and accounts payable, scanners have to have a role within workflow strategies and need to include features like cloud connectivity and integration with internal systems to derive efficiency.”

Just under half (45%) of the 400 decision-makers and IT purchasers surveyed by Brother use a dedicated scanning device rather than an MFP. Forty-four per cent scan directly to a network server, 27% to the cloud and 19% to a document management system. Over a third (39%) of documents are scanned to meet confidential, legal or regulatory standards.

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