It’s incredible how much time that a tech blogger like me spends thinking about paper. Every time another startup pitches me on their plan to “kill paper, for good this time!” I think, “I can’t believe this is still a problem that needs solving.” From my Silicon Valley-tinted view of the world and roaming coffee shop cubicle, I can’t help but assume paper is as extinct as the fax machine.
Alas, that was not the case in 2012. Fortune 500 companies still spend two to three percent of their revenue a year on paper and every officer worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper a year, HelloFax co-founder Joseph Walla tells me. Many laws and workflows are still based entirely around paper and faxing. Hell, Dunder Mifflin is still in business. The paper problem, as expensive, wasteful, inefficient and costly as it is, has not gone away. Paper is convenient as hell. It’s flexible, and it takes no education or software to use. It’s a multi-pronged problem requiring a whole lot of solutions from a lot of companies.
That’s what HelloFax wants to change in 2013. The company has been beating the paperless drum since it was founded last year. But Walla realizes that no company can go entirely paperless with just one product. “We realized the problem was too big for us to solve by ourselves,” he says.
So for the new year, the company has gathered what it believes to be a best-in-class group of solutions. Instead of preaching at people to magically make their businesses paperless, he’s telling them exactly how to do so. Thus, #Paperless2013.
The campaign uses a little bit of old-fashioned peer pressure backed up with some new-fashioned tech solutions. Businesses that sign up and pledge to go paperless will receive a bundle of free and discounted offerings from HelloFax and its document signing product, HelloSign, as well as Google Drive, Manilla and Expensify.
The options are all lightweight freemium services that are easy to implement and begin using immediately. Walla believes a big part of the problem is that managers simply aren’t aware of the paperless options available. “The tools are there but its awareness,” he says. “people aren’t looking to solve problems holistically.”
That’s beginning to change as workforces become more mobile. The mobility of workers using tablets on-site and the increase of distributed workforces is forcing companies to change their workflows and use of paper. #Paperless2013 provides an extra push in that direction.
2013 will be the year we say goodbye to The Office. With a little help from HelloFax and its peers, it may also be the year we finally say goodbye to paper.