What happened to the “paperless age?”

I recently read an article that took me on an unexpected journey through what I thought was the clear-cut equation of “paper = bad, electronic = good.” Instead, the article explained that e-waste is the by-product of actually producing all of these devices we use in our supposedly green cyber communications (i.e. printing our emails and such).

We’ve been hearing about the paperless office for more than 20 years, yet the paper mills haven’t seen better days than these and it looks like the trend has no end in sight. But why? One of the reasons: We’ve got no trust or confidence in electronic media.

Are we really okay with cyber-filing?

When you consider the sheer volume of files and versions of documents that are created during the lifecycle of a single product – from concept to fruition – you are looking at a stack of virtual paper that is a mile high and many gigabytes wide, so why are we still printing these documents?

It’s easy to find if I’m holding it in my hand; it can be shared via fax, scan, or snail mail. I can send a physical copy to the shop floor. There is no learning curve for reading a physical document, but teaching someone to understand my CAD drawing adds an astronomical level of complexity. Paper copies can be marked up with a handy pencil. It’s cheaper than having to provide a software license for every user in a product’s lifecycle. And don’t forget power outages, battery failures, and computer crashes.

We often don’t have the confidence that we’ll be able to RE-FIND what we created before, so we make a paper copy that we can keep in our filing cabinets or desk drawers. To help mitigate this fear and to ease the paradigm shift, Alcove9 provides on-premise advanced search solutions that allow users to easily find and re-use their data regardless of its content, location, or file type. We help organizations tackle the “going paperless” issue by guaranteeing that we can help users find what they need when they need it. Explore alcove9.com for more information, or test drive a9 solutions.

Sam Abu-Hamdan

About Sam Abu-Hamdan

Alcove9 President Sam Abu-Hamdan has fulfilled consultancy and leadership roles in the design and analysis field for more than 15 years, specializing in PLM and CAD/CAM where he defined processes and best practices for global manufacturing customers. He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in the area of error detection and recovery in automated manufacturing assembly cells.
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