The Pain of Going Paperless


A Forbes article seems to think that going paperless despite all the digital technology at our disposal is going to be an long uphill battle.

With all of this amazing technology, why shouldn’t all companies bill their customers and collect payments online? It’s a lot quicker and cleaner, right? What’s with all the paper still floating around?

I ask myself the same question all the time. With all this technology why do we still need so much paper? Well… other than for novelty’s sake.

But the answer is simple: Many institutions particularly entrenched ones do not want to change the way they do business. Switching to paperless in many situations is the equivalant of getting all your friends to switch to a new operating system, or getting your friends to switch from Myspace to Facebook.

A big reason: His clients–mostly commercial businesses and academic institutions–simply don’t operate that way. Suddenly forcing them to change the way they do business (even if it might make sense in the long run) just to deal with one vendor would be like asking grouchy American Idol host Simon Cowell to be polite. It’s just not in their nature.

“For electronic processes to really work, [both] an organization and its trading partners have to be committed,” says Robert Unger, head of the Council for Electronic Billing and Payment, a trade organization that promotes electronic consumer and business-to-business billing and payment services. “The behavior of your trading partners would need to change.”

And it does make sense. So whats the solution?

Changing mindsets. It might just be that people have gotten so used to using paper for mundane tasks that switching just seems absurd, especially given that paper works.

However, with climate change, and the environmental destruction brought about by using millions of tons of paper each day, the need to switch to paperless offices is immediate.

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