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Paperless Society. Why it’s still just a dream?

Updated on May 1, 2015

paperless society

Paperless Society. Why it’s still just a dream?

The world today prides of the fastest communication technological advancements of all time, even the era itself has been named, the digital age, information age or computer age, with all these advancements, the dream of a paperless society is still seemingly far-fetched. Even more so at a global level. Developing nations have been at the forefront of legging behind in the progress, but even the developed nations are still failing to eliminate the paper culture.

The statistics of paper use in society to start with is still high, with some studies showing that it is even on the increase. Wolverton, (2015) lists paper statistics that indicate that the world is still far from doing away with paper;

√ In 2013, the number of pages printed worldwide topped 3.5 trillion.

√ Between 2009 and 2013, the compounded expected growth annual rate of printout number was 1.6 percent.

√ Between 2013 and 2018, the compounded expected growth annual rate of printout was 1.7 percent. Surprisingly showing an increase while technological advancement that seek to eliminate paper are on the increase.

√ The percentage of document-based business process that result in a printout is estimated to be at 80%.

√ The approximate number of business documents across world industries that are still paper-based is between 45 to 55 percent.

These statistics are alarming considering the internet penetration in the world and the continued advancement of applications that can easily eliminate the use of paper. For instance, document signing has easily been adopted into many applications like Adobe portable document format (PDF), DocuSign and Microsoft Office. Handheld devices are constantly changing the way traditional concepts have been viewed, for instance, book reading can be done on a cell phone, and even dedicated book readers provide that.

Also, the reliance on paper with all these innovations is rather costly, printing requires a printer and cartridge which is not considerably cheap. The time wasted on printing and getting it ink signed is also another factor, businesses and individuals alike can serve a lot of money and time processing all the documents with printing. In addition to these pointers, paper is harmful to the environment, the production of paper destroys the environment, and even more so, the disposing of the waste paper each day is a problem, especially at a time where emphasis is put on the environmental risks that are man-made.

why is it hard for people bto change paper habit

Changing habits has always been a problem with human beings, most of which are afraid of change and easily pick up arguments against a change factor even if they haven’t tried it themselves. The concept is well explained through the two-step-flow theory which puts the factor of an ‘opinion maker’ influencing the decisions of other people. This has affected the changeover as people would quickly cite problems with security reasons of dealing with soft information. However, what they seem to forget is how the cyber security is continuously improving to safeguard all those unfortunates. Also, with cloud system today, one can safely store their documents with no potential threat to destroying them and can be retrieved anywhere. This means that traditional hazards that destroy paper like fire are protected against. Overtime paper can lose its quality and the content may be difficult to read, all these are safeguarded by the use of technological advancements.

The relatively limited number if ever it’s there are there of companies that have an all-digital experience is also a factor. While most companies or countries have moved closer, others are still struggling to give their citizens that experience, a notable example is of rural areas in African countries that not only have no internet connection but don’t even have electricity to start with. Even urban areas are constantly facing electricity shortages which make electronic reliance a significant problem. The domino effect of the scenario is nurturing individuals who constantly do not have a culture of soft document usage.

The starting point therefore should be to ensure each and every student has access to electronic gadgets and constantly make it their culture therefore. Given this realisation, it still has some limitations especially in developing countries where most people live on less than a dollar a day, what this generally translates to is the less importance of investing in communication technology. One generally doesn’t see the importance of installing internet at home, rather they use the money for other basic needs if it is available. The considerable number of people who don’t rely on soft documents ultimately leads to difficulties for the few that use them to totally eliminate paper. These issues constantly show how a paperless society is more of a myth than a reality.


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