A few weeks back a friend of mine sent me an email about a new business idea she wanted to interest me with. Given that she is Russian, and her English is wanting at best, I had a serious problem getting what she was trying to propose. At first glance it looked like a pyramid scheme, and living in a country where such ventures have led to bloodshed and suicides, I wasn’t particularly interested, but my curiosity got the better of me. So I clicked on the link to the website and stumbled upon what I felt might be the way to go, if only to save our dying nation and world at large.

Eregex is a company that offers paperless technologies to companies across the world. Their technologies allow you to do away with paper when dealing with such items as Letters, Contracts, Orders, invoices, certified emails and fax. This of course comes with such added features as encryption and provision for audit. As my curiosity rose even more, I ventured in a little deeper and before I knew it I was slowly transforming into a paperless protagonist.

The idea of paperless offices was born as early as the 1960s. Contrary to the predictions of the paperless office, the introduction of computers increased paper use, with worldwide use of office paper more than doubling from 1980 to 2000. This has been attributed to the increased ease of document production – rather than needing to type a document up, one may easily print out multiple copies, email it to someone who then prints out a copy, print out a web page, and so forth. With the advent of a new generation of computer users, who feel less need to print out materials than the older generation, paperless is slowly taking root. The explanation seems to be sociological rather than technological. This is an interesting case for those who argue that the success of technology depends more on the users than the nature of this technology itself. American office workers’ use of paper has actually been in decline since 2001.During this period however little has changed in the technology itself.

Tech-psychologists at MIT claim that the physical properties of paper (its being thin, light, porous, opaque, and flexible) afford the human actions of grasping, carrying, folding, writing, and so on. The concept of affordance allows them to compare the affordances of paper with those of existing digital devices. They can then ask what kinds of devices or systems would make new kinds of activities possible or better support current activities. They argue that paper will continue to play an important role in office life. Rather than pursue the ideal of the paperless office, we should work toward a future in which paper and electronic document tools work in concert and organizational processes make optimal use of both.

Here’s a little test. Look around your desk and divide the paper clatter into two; those you really had to print, and those that you didn’t really have to print. I have a strong feeling that for most of us the stuff we didn’t really need to print will take an early lead and emerge the eventual winners. If this is the case, then looks like we are all to blame for the current water crisis and global warming conditions that threaten to thirst and burn us all into oblivion.

Maybe, maybe its time we all started thinking about paperless office. Maybe I should really join forces with my friend to start selling eregex technologies and save this languishing country.

Try to save some paper today!

7 Responses to “PAPERLESS, ARE WE READY?”

  1. 1 steve August 4, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Whereas this notion is true and noble,myself has been embracing this paperless technology.My belief is that with the evolution of CLOUD COMPUTING,this will be made possible.A time will come where we will not be required to carry computers ,papers and all we need is fast internet.

    I have already started to see the benefits.A while ago , I explored the notion of Google Docs.Man,this tool is powerful.You can do anything on the web related to office work right on the internet.

    I start by an example that we applied with a friend of mine.The chap works for a US company that does JAVA outsourcing and all the coding is done here in Kenya.The project manager is in the US yet all coordination is real time.What they have done,is to share documents among the developers.Each developer has a SHEET on a Google doc spreadsheet.The project manager has documented all the goals and requirements for each developer,indicated the expected outcomes,the given priorities among others
    This way,its very easy to do evaluations and analysis and even do performance measures.
    Additionally,all the developers and the project manager does a broadcast chat each Friday to do an evaluation.

    Everything works in coherence and in rapport that I wish many people realize the free and powerful internet tools that exist.

    Google has always been my favourite: On my google home page,I utilise very many free google services.They are: Ad manager,app engine,calendar,feedburner,groups,notepad,adsense,google analytics,gtalk,web optimizer,webmaster tools,google friend connect,custom search,apps,blogger,docs among many others.



  2. 2 CB August 19, 2009 at 5:41 am

    I like the smell and texture of paper in my hands – i’m a book/gazeti lover to the core. Plus reading online gives me a headache, so whenever I find sth interesting on a website, i put it on word, reduce the font size and print it out before I read it.

    Also, I love my desky mess [it’s way beyond a messy desk], and I can’t maintain it’s integrity if all my material is online. I’d be lost in the resultant sea of neatness!

    That said, I love the trees and the flowers and wish we could spare them more. But I advocate recycling rather than paperless. Plus, when all your documentas are stored in one place, it’s easier to save a burning building than to stop a virus. I’m just saying…

    • 3 amuriu February 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      As mentioned in the article, scientists believe paper is here to stay. I think what we should be trying to do is reduce its use as much as possible while enjoying the many benefits that digital technology brings with it such as portability and ease of sharing. In the end you save the trees, and increase efficiency. Its like a 2 edged sword.

  3. 4 Njoroge,Ngethe September 10, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    In manageable pieces I think we can get across this digital divided. we have M-Pesa which from My view is a paperless transaction people are using this mode to by beer in pubs among other uses recently I attended a “Kamweretho” (wife payment party) the man buying the bride had to make a M-Pesa top up his under estimated cash.

    Agritrace ltd is on project that will eliminate the need for milk farmers in limuru to use the milk record. using a PDA the milk weight is recorded and a bluetooth printer prints out the readings the readings are then downloaded from the PDA and uploaded to the server this server then credit the farmers account, the farmer can then at that same time withdraw the money using his SACCO LINK ATM card from any location the same application is been used in the KTDA

    Good LUCK KENYA. with baby steps we will get there

    • 5 amuriu February 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      That’s impressive Ngethe. And more is coming, i can assure you. People will either have to come on board or be left behind.

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