Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are the top tools of choice in today’s business world. And before we know it, we’ll even conduct business on our watches! These technological advancements have made us more mobile, connected, and paper-free than ever.
So why is it that so many offices still utilize paper-eating machines like copiers, printers, and those horribly noisy boxes called fax machines?
Not long ago, these devices were crucial to most businesses’ day-to-day operations. But their continued use has caused offices to generate tons of paper waste every year. A whopping 40 percent of the garbage in our landfills is paper waste.
Powered by connected devices and driven by a concern for the environment, we need to unplug these paper-hungry appliances for good.
Cut Paper and Paste Profit
Companies typically pay about $25 for 2,500 sheets of paper. While this is only a penny per sheet, it can add up rather quickly across an organization. And remember that this is the figure for a blank page. Include the costs associated with supplying your machines with ink, toner, and other maintenance, and the numbers quickly add up.
It’s easy to see that cutting down on paper use could not only save your company money, but it could also save the world.
Is it possible to never use any paper in your office? What about documents that require adjustments and multiple iterations? What about documents that require signatures?
Apps That Will Kill the Fax
New technologies are enabling companies to conduct business faster and more economically than ever. Best of all, these new tools are widely available to all businesses, not just big corporations with huge IT budgets.
Here are just a few examples of these new technologies:
1. CloudScan storage technology
CloudScan is a capture service that allows you to scan and transfer documents directly into Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other cloud service. By cutting out the paper middleman, you’re enabling real-time document sharing, editing, and collaboration in an eco-friendly format.
2. HTML5 viewing technology
HTML5 document viewing is a great way to ensure that your most sensitive documents are shared in a secure environment. It’s a user-friendly option that doesn’t require any software or plugin downloads. By using this technology, you avoid the usual snags that accompany sharing documents across multiple IT platforms. Documents remain in one safe, centralized location while being reviewed and edited by only the relevant parties.
3. Document signing technology
Companies no longer need signatures in ink. Electronic signatures have become acceptable substitutions across all industries. All you have to do is email the paperwork to your client. In turn, all he has to do is confirm his identity and click on the dotted line. The days of printing and mailing documents are gone, thanks to document signing technology.
These are just three of the many paper-, time-, and money-saving options available. You already know that small businesses need to be as efficient as possible, and eliminating unnecessary paper is a huge step in the right direction.
Ride the Paperless Wave
Please do me this quick favor before you read any further: Unplug your fax machine and throw it away.
Your smartphone is a pocket-sized fax machine that wastes absolutely no paper. Use its camera to take high-resolution photos of documents. Attach the photos to an email or upload them to Google Drive. It’s that simple.
I’m pleased to see that more and more companies are recognizing these new techniques. Verizon recently sponsored two large surveys on the adoption of cloud-based technology. One was a poll of 527 Harvard Business Review readers, and the other was a survey conducted by 451 Research that combined the HBR findings with more than 1,000 other respondents’ insights.
Verizon’s efforts found that:
- 70 percent of the HBR survey respondents said that their companies have adopted some form of cloud technology in their daily activities.
- 74 percent of the HBR respondents who use cloud technology said that it gives their companies a competitive advantage.
- 35 percent of the HBR respondents said that their companies are “aggressively” adopting this technology wherever it makes commercial sense.
- 71 percent of the 451 Research respondents plan to adopt cloud technology for their external-facing production applications by 2017.
- 72 percent of the 451 Research respondents expect to migrate more than half of their entire workloads to the cloud by 2017. Today, just 58 percent use cloud technology for more than half of their workloads.
Prepare for the Paperless Plunge
Now that your fax machine is in the trash can, you need to do your homework and make sure that your company — especially your IT department — is prepared and on board with the paperless transition. Though small, there will be a learning curve associated with integrating these new technologies. Make sure you’ve blocked out time for training and information sessions.
In addition, make sure that you’ve benchmarked how much time and money you currently spend on your outdated processes. This will allow you to properly measure the value of your new methods after they’ve been implemented.
Embracing this technology will not only save time, money, paper, and the environment, but it will also position your enterprise as a progressive organization. That identity alone could do wonders for a small business.
Ditch your fax, dump your photocopier, and destroy your printers. Join the paperless movement.