There doesn't seem to be a week that goes by without a high profile organisation making a statement about going paperless. Both the British Courts and HMRC have declared the processes they are putting in place to achieve this aim.
Southwark Crown Court, for example, recently started trials with jurors using tablets in place of lever-arch files of evidence. Judges are reportedly saying that the technology will save time, money and paperwork, and make the trial much easier to manage. The jurors will no longer have to search through several lever-arch files but simply view documents via tablet utilising the Wi-Fi being installed as part of a major IT investment.
No doubt there will be a long learning curve for the British Courts to adopt and integrate this technology, but their aim, as with most organisations who wish to reduce their reliance on paper, is commendable.
When the term paperless is used, most people envisage NO paper in the workplace at all, and all documents used, viewed and annotated electronically, yet we still believe this target to be far off in the future. However, technology has provided us with the ability to vastly reduce our reliance on paper. The old adage ‘Paper-Less' seems to suit.
Technology now allows us to reduce the amount of paper consumed and by doing so improve efficiency and document workflow, but it's going to be some time before organisations will be able to throw away their old printers. What is happening though is that printers have become true multifunctional devices rather than a printer that can also perform other functions. Technology has moved forward to allow these devices to be more than just scanners that convert paper into an electronic picture, but the on-board for paper documents to create intelligent documents that integrate with digital workflow.
One example of this is Xerox's ConnectKey software platform for multifunctional devices, that allows for the design and implementation of customised Apps (as with a smart phone). These bespoke Apps can be tailored to suit your organisation's requirements and workflow, allowing true integration into backend systems.
Just because new technology is available however, doesn't mean employees will take it on board. Typically there is a long and painful learning curve when implementing new software and workflow. The key is simplicity and availability. If users can simply select the app programmed for their scanning requirements, they are much more likely to adhere to the correct procedure.
We believe that these types of workflow Apps will become commonplace, like they are on your smart phone, and will vastly accelerate our transition towards the ‘Paper-Less' office environment. As for a paperless British Court system, we shall have to wait and see.
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