The paperless office has been a dream for over 50 years. It first appeared as a publicist’s slogan to describe the office of the future, according to Wikipedia, and became an ongoing joke during the nineties when paper usage doubled due to the spread of cheap printers and photocopiers.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average US office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
The concept has witnessed a revival with cloud software which automates manual tasks that often are carried out on paper. The shift to electronic payments and invoicing is a good example .
The latest attempt to sell the paperless office is relatively modest and appears to have emerged as a joint marketing campaign by several cloud companies including Google, HelloFax, Manilla, HelloSign, Expensify and Xero.
The Paperless2013.org website is little more than a newsletter signup page which sends users a monthly tips on reducing paper usage in a typical office by promoting a bundle of complementary products.
Google Drive is Google’s online document storage and management platform, and the central element to the Google Apps cloud productivity suite. HelloFax eliminates the need for a fax machine and fax paper by sending and receiving them electronically.
The only hardware product on the list is Fujitsu’s ScanSnap document scanner which digitises incoming paper forms and bills to avoid the need for a filing cabinet.
The Paperless2013 campaign appears to be focused on the US. I’m sure many more cloud companies will seek to join the marketing alliance.
It will be interesting to see whether cloud software is the missing piece to finally creating the paperless office.