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January 03, 2013

Let's Try This Again: Fomenting Another 'Paperless Revolution'



If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the promise that someday we would all work in a “paperless office.” Twenty years later, most of us are still handling more paper than we would like. This is likely for a number of reasons: it may be habit, it may be the fact that many of the computer systems we work with every day aren’t well integrated enough to shuttle data between them, it may be because we handle old or existing documents, or it may still be “official policy” (i.e., the blue-haired manager of accounts receivable still likes her multicolored forms in triplicate, including the all-important goldenrod copy). For whatever reason, most offices still hum with printers, papers and overflowing filing cabinets.

Once again, however, the topic of the “paperless revolution” is hot, and many people feel that this time, we might actually accomplish it. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets with their many paper-free features – calendars, electronic notepads, grocery lists, organizers and other features – is helping. Apps such as Evernote (News - Alert) and Springpad, two paperless organization/notepad solutions, are becoming more popular, and there are even tablets designed specifically to assist the paper-reliant. (See the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine.) These apps allow users to jot notes, store Web pages and retain contact information, while making all of this information electronically searchable on computers, phones and tablets, according to a recent New York Times article.

Internet services giant Google (News - Alert) plans to help further the paperless revolution a little further with its expanded Google Drive online storage service.

"This year, Google Drive is part of the Paperless Coalition, a group of organizations and products that help you live completely in a paper-free world," said Google product marketing manager Meredith Blackwell in a recent blog post. "So whether you're an expense reporter, invoice tracker, file hoarder or note jotter, you can do it all without using paper."

In fact, Google Drive is now officially part of the Paperless Coalition, a group of organizations and products designed to help us all live in a completely in a paper-free world. (Yes, we’ve all heard this before…but will it work?) Other companies that have joined the Paperless Coalition include Fujitsu (News - Alert) SnapScan, which lets you scan your existing paper, mail and business cards; Expensify, which tracks and reports expenses; Manilla, a service to track and pay bills online; Xero, an online accounting software solution; HelloSign, a service that lets you fill out and sign documents online; and HelloFax, and online faxing service.

If you’re dedicated to saving trees, you too can pledge to go paperless by signing an electronic promise to eliminate paper from your life. (Just remember not to print out your pledge.) And this time, we might just pull off the paperless thing.




Edited by Jamie Epstein

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