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World Paper Free Day and Digital Transformation

John Aloy, Managing Partner for National Infrastructure at Telefónica UK shares his thoughts on digital transformation. He wonders  – why are we all still so addicted to writing on dead trees?

As you may be aware, November 9 is 2017’s World Paper Free Day. But why should we stop experiencing the tactile and comforting feel of writing on paper in favour of the cold, often emotionless connection we have with electronic devices?

As a fervent environmentalist, most people expect me to say that it is saving the environment. The nirvana that makes it all worthwhile is the savings, whether it’s fewer trees, carbon emissions or cost.


Despite these all being valid benefits of a transition away from paper, they are not, in themselves, the only reasons for an organisation to invest. I like to think of them more as the happy incidental waste product of embracing digital transformation.

For me, the real benefit is the improvements to the day to day operation of the enterprise. Real-time data capture not only improves the quality of BI (Business Intelligence) that the organisation gets, without the errors that re-keying forms bring. And it also allows the data updates in real time, which can remove up to 2 weeks of delay in processing, giving a lumbering giant the agility of a start-up. You can make decisions based on data and evidence, rather than feel and hearsay.

Digital forms aren’t, as some people think, just about removing paper. The clever use of digital solutions, such as O2 Smart Compliance, helps both automate your processes as well as provide you with a full audit trail of your activities. Which makes it easy to show your industries’ regulators just how good a job you are doing.

This can range from using Bluetooth beacons to automatically log a Security Guard patrolling a building or yard, through to allowing Care home staff to instil greater confidence in concerned relatives by showing how they’relooking after some of the most vulnerable people in society with fully documented, time-stamped photo or video evidence of the care they are providing.

Employee safety too is an interesting talking point. Aside from the obvious moral imperative to provide a safe working environment, there is wider business value in having consistent processes and completing regular safety inspections. It not only reduces the operational downtime caused by accidents or broken equipment such as lifts – which keeps people happy as they experience fewer delays – it also minimises potential disagreements with union bodies around poor or unsafe working conditions. And because people are working in safer conditions, there will be fewer injuries, and fewer workplace accident claims to settle.

So take World Paper Free Day as motivation and ask yourself if the feel of that dead tree is worth the cost to your business? For me it’s a resounding no, and not just because I am an ageing hippy at heart.

If you’d like a conversation about the issues affecting your business, please do get in touch. You can message me on LinkedIn or connect with me on Twitter.


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