The Paperless Office – Why It Hasn’t Happened?
Guest Blog written by:
Chris Flynn, CRM, CA
I have always used the horse analogy in the past. Historically, horses were a critical element to man. Obviously their role has been replaced over the years. Yet, there are more horses today than there have ever been before. It is their role that has shifted.
Another way to look at it is, it looks like we now have the ability to grow meat in a lab (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906085145.htm).
I do not anticipate a rush by Americans to buy this meat. By some accounts it will be superior to the meat raised in traditional fashion. The meat will better for the environment and possibly superior in every way. I would think there will be a lot of push back on this from ranchers, politicians, and those invested in the process. The marketing model will dictate how well and how fast it becomes part and parcel of our eating practices. If the price point of grown meat is a fraction of current prices, and truly is better, it will become a reality faster.
Internal combustion cars replaced horses because they were better, faster, more reliable, and affordable. The perception of the paperless office is that it has not been able to achieve its promises, it remains an expensive endeavor, re-tooling is cost prohibitive, and conversion is disruptive, slowing critical processes, and is demanding on all resources - reliability is questionable.
Companies developing the capability to go paperless targeted the Fortune 500. Tools that have the ability to create the desired environment have been slow, in modern terms, to filter down to smaller organizations. The price point remains high. Most companies do not believe they can convert and still achieve their primary goals.
How do we get to the point where we go "paperless"? First, get the idea out of our vernacular. People love horses and beef on the hoof. Why confront them on that issue? There will always be trees there will always be paper. Paper's role in the business process is what we should be addressing.
Second, while the capability of systems to improve processes has developed over time, perception remains that no matter how good it is, it is not affordable and not reliable enough. In the old days they raced cars against horses.
The proof is in the pudding. We need to be better at showing people that electronic records are better. We need to buy into it and sell it.
Is it a generational issue? Yes and no. Yes, the younger generation will create an environment much more dependent on electronic information. If a paperless environment comes it will be because the more "mature" people buy into it and make it happen. Remember, with few exceptions, the next generation has little real power. The next generation will be brought up in our model. We need to make our model one of change.
Well back in the saddle I go… cows to feed.