World Paper Free Day: What’s The Right Balance Between Digital and Treeware?

Oct 25

There’s been some great debate among some of the ECM pundits on Twitter on the topic of “paper free” as a goal for enterprises and even individuals. (Yes, yes… we all love the old joke about achieving the paperless office the day we achieve the paperless toilet…) But few will argue that reducing bottlenecks and improving online accessibility for routine transactions must be a goal for private and public sector organizations.

For the last couple of years, AIIM has promoted “World Paper Free Day” on the last Thursday of October. It’s a great time to stop and think about how some organizations still use paper as a crutch, keeping so many types of routine transactions in a rut. Paper reduction has many angles: going “green” and saving trees, removing inefficiencies, creating a more streamlined work environment, freeing up storage and archives space. All great objectives.

But it’s not as simple as some pundits like to think.

Until we agree and aggressively adopt open standards for digital preservation, going blindly into a paper-free frenzy is merely shifting one set of problems for another. Closed systems, single-point-of-failure cloud services, proprietary device formats feel like a looming disaster for those of us who get paranoid about the implications for future historians. What happens when our day-to-day electronic transactions are unreadable or unfindable a few years from now, never mind generations from now.

Paper-free is OK, but not the answer until we figure out how businesses, governments and societies will protect the evidence of our human transactions online.

AIIM has published some great toolkits and resources to help break down the paper bottleneck. I also recommend a recent blog post from Laurence Hart, a great read on achieving freedom from paper, rather than going paper-free.

For those of you in the Ottawa or surrounding area, we invite you to join our local chapter event on October 27 as we welcome noted document capture technology analyst Harvey Spencer, along with Bruce Covington, Director at Public Works Canada responsible for document imaging strategies and what digital means in Canadian Federal Government. Hope to see you Thursday morning.

Registration Link