Paper FreeSignificant progress has been made in the on-going move towards a paper-free workplace, with around two-thirds of business executives revealing that the demand for paperless processes is on the rise, according to new AIIM research launched this week.

Furthermore, the amount of paper arriving at the door is decreasing for half of organisations (somewhat for 41% and rapidly for 9%), while digital inbound documents are increasing for two-thirds of business executives.

The AIIM report – ‘Paper-Free in 2016, Are we there yet?’ – is launched this week as part of the run up to World Paper Free Day (WPFD) 2016, which takes place this year on 4 November. WPFD is an annual day when organisations all over the world come together to reduce the amount of paper in our business processes and think about the volume of paper that we use (and waste) every single day.

“The once elusive concept of paper-free business operations is today a real possibility and real progress has been made over the past 12 months,” said Bob Larrivee (pictured below), chief analyst, AIIM.

“It remains unrealistic to think that all business processes and transactions will be paper-free in the near future, but there are definitely certain processes where paper can be removed.”

This year’s WPFD will for the first time include an interactive, virtual event where members of the AIIM community will share tips and tricks learned as part of their own paper free journey. This will take place on 4 November and aims to set people along the path to becoming paper-free – attendees can register here.

“World Paper Free Day 2016 is a really important day, as despite the undoubted progress made over the past year, many organisations are still clogged up and slowed down by paper,” said Peggy Winton, acting President, AIIM. “This year we want to pass on our thoughts and expertise in helping to reduce paper-use in the workplace and would like to invite anyone – business, department or individual – to come and join us on World Paper Free Day 2016.”

Paper use in certain business functions has shown strong signs of reduction, according to the AIIM research. Paper use in Human Resources (HR) is particularly decreasing in the areas of recruitment (49%) and employee lifecycle (48%), and paper use is also decreasing for 41% of people in Accounts Payables (AP) and 39% in Accounts Receivables (39%).

The human factor is still the primary reason given for paper use when handling, reading, and note taking (47%), along with a lack of management initiatives to move away from paper (47%). 39% of research respondents also cite a lack of understanding and awareness when it comes to paper-free options, while 65% say they are still signing on paper.

Bob_Larrivee_AIIM[1386787]“People instinctively like paper and for many it still feels natural in many case to print out a document to read, sign, edit or share,” said Larrivee. “But things are gradually changing as people become more comfortable using technology for such tasks and realise that e-signatures are just as valid as physical ones. Enterprises are also seeing the benefit of digitising content, in terms of customer service, collaboration and overall productivity, which will only help the move to paper-free.”

Other key findings in the ‘Paper-Free in 2016, Are we there yet?’ report include:

• Payback on paper-free investment is possible within three months according to 9% of respondents, while 36% indicate payback between three and six months.
• 26% of respondents say responsibility for radical process review falls on the line-of-business or department head.
• Key benefits identified from going paper-free are faster customer response (50%), and higher productivity (42%).
• Twenty-five percent of 2016 respondents indicate they run a clear/paper-free environment; up from 18% in last year’s report.

The research for ‘Paper-Free in 2016, Are we there yet?’ was underwritten in part by Canon, EMC, Flowforma, ibml, InfoFort, Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Nitro, Novitex, OpenText, Star Storage and Systemware.

The survey was taken using a web-based tool collecting responses from 199 individual members of the AIIM community during the month of August 2016. Invitations to take the survey were sent via e-mail to a selection of the 193,000+ AIIM community members and via social media.