The Myth of a Paperless Society


Everyone talks about the inevitable transition to a Paperless Society yet according to a recently published Paper Wars industry report conducted by AIIM, a mere 17% of firms identify themselves as operating a paper-free office. Despite actively searching for a digital solution, 20% admit that their paper document usage is increasing. This metamorphosis of how we do business as a collective is definitely changing, but we still have a ways to go.

A great example of the big move to digital is the retail industry, which embraced a more organized digital e-commerce presence and incorporated e-mail-based receipts at brick and mortar stores. This definitely works well in the B2C retail arena, especially since it provides a further base to continue the customer relationship through e-mail marketing. But…

What about the larger infrastructure behind those transactions? What about more long-term high dollar value transactions? What about the B2B interactions among the behind-the-scenes companies facilitating transactions? What about the more long-term storage needs of the organizations behind this digital shift?

Society must address record management over a longer period of time. Most retail transactions create a short term receipt that is generally either discarded immediately or retained for a period of no longer than a year.

Forward-looking financial institutions still rely on paperwork with multiple handwritten signatures as a foundation for educational loans to students, mortgages to new home buyers, and insurance plans that can span decades before reaching maturity or full payoff. In fact according to the same AIIM industry report, 56% of businesses still rely on a handwritten signature on paper.

Didn’t you have to sign in person the last time you bought a car?

Your school’s financial aid office didn’t let you scan your phone for your loan, will it?

What’s taking so long?

Other industries, such as healthcare, have lofty goals to automate the records system and secure digital privacy for the millions utilizing the system, but have failed to adapt fully to the digital space as “hard deadlines” are repeatedly pushed back. Even legislation to enforce EMR deadlines lags and postpones full compliance dates more often than album releases in music.

Patients still sign consent forms by hand and hospital staff relies on quickly accessible handwritten notes on paper charts prior to discharge, after which paper invoices are mailed out for remaining financial balances. It is only later that these paper documents are scanned into a larger system while the paper is retained for years into the future as a failsafe. Only younger affluent doctors, larger medical groups, and well-funded medical centers have fully adopted the tablet or laptop digitized EMR chart system.

In the immediate scenario through services like Apple Pay, PayPal, Etrade, online billing, and a myriad of other shorter term transaction programs, people are ready to adopt a lifestyle that skews more towards digital; however, businesses and various services are reticent to let go of that physical copy upon which their entire livelihood depends. More importantly, firms simply cannot maintain the physical square footage and real estate needed to accommodate these paper files.

Why take up floor space for past records when you can convert that area into a revenue producing zone? The trade-off is too large to ignore. Additionally, storage companies alleviate the spatial constraints of these firms, but detract significantly from the trickle down bottom line figures as off-site facilities create escalating bills with no concrete end solution in mind.

So, what is the solution that takes long-term needs and financial constraints into account? Well…

How can my business get ahead of the curve?

A happy medium is scanning, or digital document conversion. The process provides an exact digital copy of existing cumbersome paper file storage that is flawlessly compatible with existing digital document management software. It’s like placing an entire warehouse on a small corner of your desk.

Even more compelling on the financial side, AIIM reports that 84% of firms achieved payback from paper-free projects in less than 18 months due to a variety of efficiency and cost savings.

The process is time-consuming and expensive to execute in-house, but outside professionals at dedicated service bureaus, such as Comprehensive Microfilm and Scanning Services, can streamline your retrieval processes and transform the way you do business in a short amount of time at a price in line with your budgetary limitations and with no gap in access to your files as outlined in our Comprehensive Scan Plan.

Where to go from here?

On the consumer-facing, temporary side of things, digital is easily absorbed by the general public, but paper documents are still an integral part of the large-scale, behind-the-scenes corporate landscape. The best way to adapt without abandoning key previous file systems is to scan.

The change is happening. While it may take a while or even another generation to fully gain traction, it’s best to be a part of the movement than to get left behind.

Contact Comprehensive Microfilm and Scanning Services at (570) 283-3456 or drop us an e-mail to find out how we can alleviate your document concrns and create a solution to set your firm up for the changing future ahead.


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Comprehensive Microfilm & Scanning Services Inc.

66 Plymouth St,

Kingston, PA 18704

Phone. 570-283-3456