Technologies advance, business processes go electronic, and devices give us unprecedented mobility. And where does that leaves us? Using more paper than ever. How can we break free and really take advantage of technologies like e-statement presentment, digital delivery and medical banking that not only free us from paper but make businesses more efficient and less expensive to run?
The easier answer is that this is a generational issue. I once had an employer who used to have his secretary print his emails and fax them to him because he worked remotely. That kind of madness is certainly going away. But there remains a feeling that paper records are somehow more real that electronic ones.
We’re still using paper because we sign paper. I know you can do e‑signatures, but some states have different rules. As a society we have to not only get comfortable with digital, but get to the point where we’re willing to accept a digital record. We need to globally change our perspective on what constitutes a record, a legal record, an actual document. We have to get consumers to understand that a monthly investment company statement is just as secure – perhaps more secure – sitting in a digital mailbox than it is in the mailbox nailed to the front of your house.
Speaking of the front of your house, have you seen fewer newspapers in front lawns? Think about the amount of paper it takes to produce a daily newspaper. I’ve been into one of those printing plants where giant rolls of newsprint are sucked into machines and come out the other end as a stack of papers. That business is dying, and while it hasn’t figured out yet how to go digital, it’s going to happen. I think investments like the one Jeff Bezos has made in The Washington Post Co., a major brand of old-world paper, is a sign that there is a group of people who have to make the news transfer from “on lawn” to online. They are the people who make tablet computers.
My smartphone is a great device. It’s great for sharing information, finding things like phone numbers quickly, retrieving small bits of data. But it’s not great for looking at a document. And you could say, “laptop,” but now I’ve got to carry that big thing around, log in and go through some firewall. I just want to look at a document. Tablets are particularly well suited for that, hence the use of them for e‑readers.
Mobility is a key consideration not just for news, but for business applications up to and including content management. Companies like ours have to build out solutions that support a shift to digital and do so with mobility in mind.