New AIIM Research States Organizations Risk Losing The Battle With Paper – For The Wrong Reasons

Jul 31, 2013

Almost 40 percent surveyed cite need for physical signatures and legal admissibility as biggest obstacles to adoption.
AIIM
A new research report by AIIM states that companies can reap tremendous financial benefits by incorporating paper-free projects into their business improvement initiatives, yet adoption of these processes has been very slow. The report, “Winning the Paper Wars”, indicates that 74 percent of survey respondents have business improvement campaigns underway that would benefit from paper-free processes, but surprisingly only 24 percent have a specific policy designed to eliminate paper from their business. According to the research, many companies are going paper-free as a result of the increased use of mobile technologies by employees, as well as the fact that having only electronic documents helps with compliance and audit regulations.

The report examines the benefits of pursuing a paper-free work environment, reasons why adoption has been slow, and which processes are the most effective for digitization. Even though companies can improve response time to customer requests and increase productivity, most organizations have moved at a slow pace when it comes to adopting electronic workflow technologies. In fact, among the 562 survey respondents, 47 percent of organizations have made only five percent progress towards updating processes that could be paper-free. Worse, 19 percent said they have actually increased the use of paper. Legal requirements for paper copies and physical signatures is given as one of the main justifications, despite the fact that this is generally not the case.

While demands for reduced operating costs and increased worker productivity are obvious motivators for paper-free initiatives, the research also reveals that the growth in teleworking and use of mobile devices by workers in the field has dramatically increased the need for electronic access to all business content. Using capture on mobile devices can also trigger back-office processes immediately, and cut out the paper-chain between field workers, branch offices and head office.

“Our research confirms that companies that adopt paper-free business processes benefit by reducing costs, improving customer service, and raising worker productivity,” said AIIM President John Mancini. “But we’ve also learned that executives are still not comfortable using electronic signatures and electronic documents, even though they are 100 percent admissible in a court of law, when it comes to legal issues and audit trails. On the flip side, we’re seeing that many companies are adopting mobile technologies for their dispersed workforce which is helping to advance the idea of the paper-free office.”

As with any business process or technology, return-on-investment is a key adoption driver. Per the results of the survey, two-thirds of those adopting paper-free processes report a payback within 18 months and 50 percent see payback in a 12-month period. Respondents felt that corporate spending on paperless technologies will increase over the next 12 months particularly in the area of data capture for mobile devices.

Other key findings in the AIIM report include:
  • On average, respondents feel that driving paper out of business processes would improve the productivity of process staff by over 29 percent
  • Physical signatures and legal admissibility are given as the biggest paper-free concerns amongst staff, with legal counsel and finance being the most resistant
  • Spending plans for the next 12 months look to be very positive particularly for OCR, workflow/BPM and mobile capture, with scanner sales and outsourcing being mostly flat.

For a more detailed analysis, the full report, “Winning the Paper Wars,” can be downloaded from the AIIM website at www.aiim.org/paper-wars-2013. The research was underwritten in part by ABBYY, Alfresco, Avoka, Bottomline Technologies, IBM, ibml, Iron Mountain, Kofax, Opex Corporation, Perceptive Software, and ZIA Consulting.

About AIIM
AIIM has been an advocate and supporter of information professionals for 70 years. The association’s mission is to ensure that information professionals understand the current and future challenges of managing information assets in an era of social, mobile, cloud and big data. Founded in 1943, AIIM builds on a strong heritage of research and member service. Today, AIIM is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals. AIIM represents the entire information management community, with programs and content for practitioners, technology suppliers, integrators and consultants.

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Contact:
Rob Goodman
McKenzie Worldwide
robg@mckenzieworldwide.com
(503) 746-4361