Going Paper-Free Achieves Payback in Fewer Than 18 Months, Says New AIIM Report

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By digitizing content, around half of enterprises say they can improve their ability to serve customers quickly and increase overall productivity

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Despite the progress seen in this year’s research, paper is still being used unnecessarily in millions of offices all over the world.

The benefits of digitizing content and reducing paper use in the workplace are finally being realized, according to new research by information management analysts, AIIM. Of business executives surveyed, 84 percent saw payback from their paper-free projects within 18 months, with 26 percent doing so in fewer than six months.

While 20 percent of respondents in the new study, ‘Paper-Free Progress: measuring outcomes’ say that consumption of paper is increasing in their organization, around half (49 percent) say it is decreasing. This 2015 net of 29 percent compares favorably with 23 percent net when the same research was conducted in 2014 and just a three percent net 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,” said AIIM president, John Mancini. “We are never going to eliminate paper completely, but when it becomes clear that going paper-free delivers return on investment and can improve overall productivity, businesses will be more willing to invest in the technologies that allow them to go paper-free.”

‘Paper-Free Progress: measuring outcomes’ was launched today (Nov. 6) as part of World Paper Free Day 2015, an AIIM initiative that challenges us to take solid steps on the path to using less paper, eliminating the waste and confusion that piles of office paper can create.

Organizations from all over the world have taken the paper-free pledge, including Fujitsu, Iron Mountain, and IBM. For each registration, AIIM will make a donation to One Laptop per Child, the non-profit organization offering laptops for children in developing countries.

The biggest benefits from going paper-free were being able to give a faster response to customers, better compliance and increased productivity, and 80 percent of respondents agree that paper content and processes are a huge impediment to remote access and teleworking.

More than half (57 percent) say they are committed to digital transformation, but the study did reveal that in many organizations, there is still a lot of progress to be made in achieving that. Thirty-five percent of respondents say that most of the electronic invoices they receive get printed anyway, while 34 percent agree that most of the documents they scan are unchanged from printer to scanner. Thirty-one percent admit that their desk is ‘piled high’ with paper, worrying given that the average office worker uses up to 45 sheets of paper per day , of which more than half is considered waste.

A lack of management initiatives and staff preferences (both 49 percent) were the two main reasons as to why there is still so much paper around, while 39 percent feel there is a general lack of understanding of paper-free options.

“Despite the progress seen in this year’s research, paper is still being used unnecessarily in millions of offices all over the world,” concluded John Mancini. “Doing so means processes are slowed and untold harm continues to be done to the environment. Reducing paper is achievable for any organization, and at AIIM we will continue to educate on how best businesses can capture, manage and store information digitally – the paper war is not won yet!”

Other key findings in the AIIM report include:

  •     The biggest driver for scanning and data capture is improved searchability and shareability (53 percent), followed by higher productivity and reduced storage space.
  •     24 percent of respondents are not looking at any mobile projects for data capture.
  •     For those with mobile capture projects, speed of data availability and keeping paper out of the process have been the biggest benefits.
  •     11 percent are already using cloud products for capture, and 17 percent have plans in the next 12-18 months.

The research for ‘Paper-Free Progress: measuring outcomes’ was underwritten in part by EMC, IBML, IBM, Iron Mountain, Kofax, Laserfiche, Opex, Papersoft and Swiss Post. The full report is free to download here http://info.aiim.org/paper-free-progress-measuring-outcomes.

The survey was taken using a web-based tool by 430 individual members of the AIIM community between Aug. 14, and Sept. 2, 2015.

About AIIM
AIIM has been an advocate and supporter of information professionals for 70 years. The association’s mission is to ensure that information professionals understand the current and future challenges of managing information assets in an era of social, mobile, cloud and big data. Founded in 1943, AIIM builds on a strong heritage of research and member service. Today, AIIM is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals. AIIM represents the entire information management community, with programs and content for practitioners, technology suppliers, integrators and consultants.

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