There is little doubt that ‘going paperless’ delivers both positive environmental and business process / efficiency impacts. The often used ‘going paperless’ slogan, was coined some time around 1975, when a Business Week article predicted office based paper systems would be largely eliminated by the early 90’s. Despite this in the last 20 years, the usage of paper products has increased from disproportionately by 126% or 92 million tons to 208 million. One potential explanation is that even while businesses shift paper to digital, there are still significant processes that sit outside the digital process. This is called The Analogue Gap.
I was in on-boarding discussion recently with a group from the finance vertical. Everyone agreed that digital data capture of new accounts for banks, was no longer a nice to have, it was now a serious differentiator in the competition matrix. Speeding new accounts to bank end systems, while at the same time identifying and enabling data connections of complimentary financial retail products with the new customer, are big profit and efficiency drivers.
What fell out of the conversation was unexpected, but was a clear example of The Analogue Gap. The group I spoke with felt pretty good, as they had recently replaced their customer facing paper based processes at a branch level. Rather than back office re keying account sign ups, this was done via tablet based data capture in the branch environment.
Great system, however, following the capture of all the on boarding data, the CSR printed a hard copy for the customer to sign. This practice is certainly not uncommon in the finance sector. In this case it was due to the compliance and risk requirements of the business unit and is a great example of The Analogue Gap.
My response was that while the on boarding system is digitally based, it is not an end to end digital system. It still requires a scanning of the soft copy with signature back to the CRM. And aside from time (and associated admin expense) error or document loss in this process can equate to a significant efficiency flaw in the original process re-engineering.
As an example, The Paperless Project estimate each misfiled document costs a business $125, and if that document is lost a single document can cost $350 to $700. And ‘large’ organizations lose a document every 12 seconds. In some cases it may be cheaper if the documents were lost! Each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10,000 to 12,000 documents, takes up to 9 square feet of floor space and costs $1,500 per year.
So clearly a paperless office is still a long way off the 1975 predictions of obsoleteness. In fact it is getting further away, not closer. The average office worker continuing to use a staggering 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, and paper usage in business growing by 22% a year. it is not too far a jump to connect hybrid digital / analogue processes (such as the finance example above) to be one logical explanation.
So how can this gap be plugged?
You won’t be surprised to hear my proposed solution to this problem was a hybrid digital pen and paper solution utilizing Anoto Live Forms as the gap elimination enabler!
My suggestion was that the completed customer on boarding forms are printed locally on pattern enabled paper, the paper is signed with a Anoto Live pen, and the completed document is instantly sent back to the server as a rendered PDF and on-boarding is complete.
An added efficiency option at this point is to use this process as a Signature Validation Enrolment step that allows all future high risk, or high value transactions that require a signature, to have a biometrical comparison against the enrolment specimen.
The incremental process cost is low. The Anoto Live Forms environment technically receptive to the existing infrastructure. You can read more about how a German financial institution The Kreissparkasse Kaiserslautern plugged a similar Analogue Gap in their business. Or better still, get in touch and tell us about the remaining analogue processes you would like to eliminate from your otherwise paperless office environment.