Five signs that you’re not doing enough to join the digital age

Are you suffering from ‘printer’s remorse’? Is the transition into the so-called digital age becoming more and more stressful? For example, you get an e-mail with a document attached from a colleague or a client. You open it and read it on your computer screen. And then – for a variety of reasons that usually can’t be justified – you hit ‘print.’ As your printer leaps into action and begins to pump out the pages, a nagging feeling of doubt begins to sink in. Did I really need to make a hard copy of this? Did I just waste my time and my resources?

Mohan Mailvaganam.
Mohan Mailvaganam.

Chances are, says Mohan Mailvaganam, Director of Digital Process Automation at Xerox Canada, the answer is staring you right in the face – from your recycling bin filled with pages that you and other colleagues have already read and discarded. “Even without seeing the hard numbers that prove how digitizing work processes and reducing our reliance on paper can save significant time and money, we still get an inkling in our guts – all that paper shuffling from hand to hand must be lethal to efficiency and productivity. But still, companies of all sizes – from small and medium-sized businesses to large corporations – forge ahead and hit the print button far more than they should.”

In fact, recent findings from Xerox’s Digitization at Work Report reveal that less than 50% of IT decision-makers currently use processes that are mostly or fully digitized. With that fact in mind, Mailvaganam reveals five often overlooked signs that you aren’t doing enough to realize the benefits of going digital.

  1. You have no idea how much paper you use on a daily basis, let alone why. Without the right data in hand on your printing habits, it’s difficult to uncover the hidden opportunities for digitization. You’re stuck guessing what might work, which is never as reliable as well-analyzed data. Armed with solid print analytics, you can then make more informed decisions about optimizing or automating key processes.
  2. You don’t understand the difference between bad and good paper. “Good” paper refers to documents that have a valid reason to be in hard-copy form, such as customers’ handwritten letters or documents that require a “wet ink” signature. “Bad” paper refers to documents that are in paper format, but without any compelling reason to be so. These could include documents that were printed from digital originals, or documents that get shared, stored or transported using physical systems. Understanding the distinction between them helps identify where you really need to use paper, and where you can get rid of it.
  3. Your leadership and your workforce aren’t on the same page. Going digital involves changing the way people work and how they think. People often fear the unknown, so communicating the reasons and benefits of change is crucial. By far the greatest barrier to change is institutional culture. There must be a company-wide buy-in among all employees and management to effect real change.
  4. You’re storing reams of documents because you “have to.” Many organizations are required to retain a variety of documents for regulatory reasons. In the past, that used to mean banker’s boxes and multiple copies of the same paperwork. Today, in many cases, government agencies and regulatory bodies now accept digital versions and electronic signatures.
  5. Your print shop or company isn’t as competitive as you think it should be. The weight of paper-based processes is holding many Canadian firms back from keeping up with competitors who have already made the digital transformation. Unnecessary paper use wastes resources, undermines productivity, bogs down workflow, and prevents you from realizing the many advantages derived from becoming digital enterprises.

Please keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs that your ties to paper are still too strong. Just recognizing you have a problem is a good start to the realization that you need to get your digital house in order. And it’ll help you avoid those bad feelings you get waiting by a printer for those papers that you never needed to output in the first place.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.