What paper trail?

Summary:I’ve been carting around my latest sheaf of press releases about the green-ness of electronic document technology for weeks now. Yes, as I’ve blogged before, I am still one of those people who can’t help printing out certain emails in order to act on them.

I’ve been carting around my latest sheaf of press releases about the green-ness of electronic document technology for weeks now. Yes, as I’ve blogged before, I am still one of those people who can’t help printing out certain emails in order to act on them. Yes, it's bad, I know.

In any event, Xerox pinged me last week with some new stats gleaned out of a survey from HansalGCR about environmental issues, with a slant on printer-related habits. The survey of 600 decision makers at large and midsize companies was sponsored by Xerox and several other companies.

The data suggest that more than half of IT managers are now studying the green tech profile related to their printers and other multifunction devices. Three in four of those polled indicated that “wasteful or unnecessary printing is a serious business issue.” For these companies, at least, this area of technology ranked right up their with data center infrastructure as a focus of sustainable IT strategy.

You can find the complete survey results at this link.

And here’s another piece of data to give you pause: The average office worker wastes 1.5 pounds of paper per day (more than 2 pounds if they’re involved with financial services.)

If you’re doing some of your own research in this particular area, that sheaf of press releases that I mentioned earlier is chock full of information that might be useful to you. These developments are sort of random, but all related to the idea that better printer management policies could go a long way when it comes to addressing issues of energy efficiency and sustainability. In no particular order:

- Document automation software and services company Esker, headquartered in Lyon, France, has developed a series of assessment services that it has dubbed the “Quit Paper” campaign. I spoke with Renee Thomas, director of field marketing, a couple of months back about the specifics. “We’re encouraging customers to look deeper into their organization to look at their business processes, find where the paper is and help them understand that the paper actually is slowing down business. Also, that they are wasting precious resources,” she says.

Esker’s latest tool is a portal called GreenerDocs.com, which helps companies calculate how much paper they are using in the invoicing or order taking process. The calculator on the site doesn’t just focus on the resources saved and carbon emissions diverted, it helps them tie these policies to specific corporate cost efficiency metrics, such as faster order-to-cash or procure-to-pay cycles.

- Another approach is the technology advocated by Accellion, which essential offers a file-transfer appliance. Among its solutions is Accellion Green Digital Logistics, which manages digital information delivery as well as the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that have been eliminated in the process. Among the big users of the technology are Procter & Gamble, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and Activision. The company estimates that every terabyte of data transferred saves about 50,000 trees from being turned into paper or diverts the cost related to shipping 2,000 CDs full of digital data overnight.

- DocuSign, which offers an electronic signature service, is reporting accelerating adoption for its solution, which is being used by more than 1,800 customers such as loan provider Wells Fargo Funding. Since the service was introduced in 2005, more than 8 million signature “events” have been completed. (More than 70 percent of those events occurred during the past 12 months.

- Along a similar vein, Transcepta provides an electronic invoicing service that is now used by more than 35,000 customers. Here's a press release about one of its latest deals.

- Finally, because there are definitely people like me in the world who will just never, ever get over their love of paper, Xerox is working on self-erasing reusable paper. Still a ways from “product,” but here’s so more information about the work it is doing.

Topics: Hardware, Data Centers, Printers, Storage


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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