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Businesses have been talking about paperless workflow for decades, but it’s a hard leap to make without the right tools. The changes of the last two years have put those tools to the test.

Since the very first modern computer appeared in office, we’ve all been asking, “Do we still need all this paper?” It’s a harder question than it seems. If we want to limit the waste, the ecological impact, and the productivity drain of paper, we need to step back and ask ourselves what it is that keeps drawing people to the printout. We need solutions that ease the transition to an enhanced digital workflow while understanding real-world business needs.

The reality of paper

The invention of paper ushered in a never-before-seen age of literacy and education. It’s a cheap, portable, accessible, and lasting vessel for information. Those qualities still drive its use today. But, in an era where workers are spread across the globe, handing a sheet of paper to a colleague is rarely convenient. This is a world where information may as well not exist if it can’t be accessed from your phone. This is a moment when costs are measured not only in dollars, but in time and tons of carbon.

The advantages of going paperless are clear. The Association for Intelligent Information Management has reported that 84 percent of organizations that undertook paper-free projects achieved payback in less than 18 months. But that value is only realized when the undeniable power of print is preserved through this transition.

Canon has spent decades perfecting the philosophy and the practical reality of how people and businesses create, preserve, use, and share information. They’ve leveraged this experience and insight into the creation of new suites of tools that aren’t just paper replacements, but reinventions of the business information ecosystem. And, critically, these systems are informed by a deep understanding of what businesses and employees want and need.

A complete digital transformation

According to Gartner, every time an employee touches a piece of paper, it costs the company $20. Gartner further estimates that the average employee loses almost four weeks of productivity every year searching for lost and misfiled documents. There’s real money and time to be saved here.

But, when the office is a maze of filing cabinets, and home work spaces are chaotic mountains of paperwork organized only by memory and hope, the gap to a structured digital solution may seem unbridgeable. Going paperless is a process, not an event.

Canon’s flagship information management solutions provide an answer to this problem. And cutting-edge OCR, intelligent document fingerprinting, and high-accuracy indexing provide a seamless on-ramp for any document into the digital workflow the moment it’s needed.

These solutions provide workers with the ability to capture, archive, retrieve, edit, and process data at any point in the workflow quickly and securely. They turn every document into a transactable work space with a memory of its own, providing every bit of the power and flexibility of a paper and a pen while maintaining the accessibility and security of cloud-based collaboration.

And, just as importantly, the new digital paradigm to which these documents are transitioned, to has been crafted from the ground up for efficiency. After all, little is gained by replacing a stack of marked-up paper with a tangled email inbox housing dozens of threads with hundreds of versioned documents. A comprehensive solution gently and seamlessly tames this mess into a cohesively streamlined whole.

So, do we still need all this paper? Not necessarily, but we do need a knowledgeable and thoughtful guide to lead us away from it. We need a voice that is intimately familiar with the way businesses work and is unafraid to imagine ways they could work better. Reaping the benefits of the paperless transition requires not a leap, but a series of well-informed steps along a carefully crafted path, a path paved by companies like Canon.

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