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Sustainable Office Technology

15 Jul, 2009 By: Robert Weideman imageSource

Sustainable Office Technology

Innovative technologies surround us in the 21st century.  In fact, almost
every facet of our lives is touched by some form of technology that can save us
time,  keep us connected, and simply make our lives easier. 

For example, when was the last time you used a phone book – you know, an
actual phone book?  No doubt it’s been awhile, quietly and quickly replaced with
online search and directory assistance services attached to your mobile phone
plan.  Better yet, are you still sending postal letters these days, or using
more email instead?

These rapid replacements of established habits are perfect examples of how
people will quickly gravitate to a faster way to get things done – if the new
way is easier, affordable or more efficient. Yet, despite countless
technological advances, many offices will still have need to mix new
technologies with standard devices; hardcopy documentation, for example, is
still with us for a variety of reasons, so organizations rely on building a
strong partnership between equipment uses (printers/copiers/fax/scan) and
digital methods to maintain their business.  Why?

The notion of going paperless has been around for more than 50 years. At
first, people were thrilled with the idea of reducing or eliminating paper and
saving money; however, global consumption of office paper actually rose for
decades, as digital technology advances made printing fast, cheaper and easier.
For those that sell or depend on printers, toners and paper supplies to prosper,
this side of the coin is still desirable. But there is another side of the coin
as well.

While the cost of toner might be cheaper than the printing press, the “other”
costs of using paper are the real source of expense.  Most office workers don’t 
realize the huge impact that their paper usage has on the environment.  Before
even pressing the “print” button on a traditional office machine, for example,
huge expenses and energy have already been expended in producing printer toner
and paper. For those wanting facts on “conservation,”  every year it takes 500
billion gallons of oil to manufacture the laser printer cartridges used in North
America, and over the same period, 350 million used cartridges are thrown into
landfill sites.  And to supply the estimated 1.5 trillion pages printed in the
USA last year, 180 million trees were felled and over 100 billion gallons of
water were consumed. As global or “green” concerns are at the forefront of
conversations these days, developing greener device and supply options are
keeping many R & D departments busy, and large manufacturers are currently
launching equipment & supplies to meet the demand for offices around the world
that are transitioning to green.

Regardless that digital document management is rapidly growing, it won’t
replace all hardcopy uses, at least in the near future. Legal and government
sectors, even real estate or healthcare may archive electronically but many
facilities prefer to also keep signed paper documents on file, regardless
e-signatures and email archiving are now considered “legal” documentation. 

Clearly, becoming efficient with paper has been a challenge, and setting a
goal of going entirely “paperless”  is not yet realistic. As technologies keep
evolving, however, everyone has the opportunity to maximize productivity that
best suits their office or organization, merging the best methods found for
optimum efficiency.  With that in mind, many dealers in office technology seek
to become hybrids in order to accommodate their customers’ needs more
effectively. A sampling of innovative devices and programs to consider might

Scan Paper to PDF By Any Means

New available software allows workers to capture documents with not just
scanners, but digital cameras and even mobile phone cameras,and then convert the
resulting images into portable document format (PDF) to be stored, managed and
searched on a PC – dramatically increasing the ability to manage your work
efficiently and on-the-go. PDF Converter takes these scanned files one step
further and delivers everything you need to create, convert and edit PDF files
without the traditional formatting nightmares.

Convert to Editable Digital Content

Analyst research has shown that individual office workers spend 3-4 hours
each week — representing salary costs of $4,500 to $5,700 per year — simply
recreating and reformatting documents. This is valuable time that can be used
elsewhere. A good software program, including OmniPage, can automate those
manual tasks, saving 15 minutes per page compared to manual typing, or more than
an hour for a simple five-page document. This makes for a fast and precise way
to convert documents into editable digital content that looks and acts just like
an original digital document complete with columns, colors, pictures and

Discover Paper Alternatives with E-Readers

One significant barrier stood high until just recently – the lack of a
practical alternative to the portability and convenience of paper.  Today, it’s
possible to even leverage recent advances in eBook technologies, highlighted by
the popularity of the Amazon Kindle, with products that can convert paper and
digital documents into files you can edit, search and share in the format of
your choice (by scanning and formatting documents to be accessed on the Amazon
Kindle and mobile Smartphones) – not only saving trees but also delivering
countless portable advantages.

Get All Your Files in One Stack 

When you have information scattered across your office, it makes it hard to give
your customers the kind of service they expect and you want to provide.  But
what if there was a productive and cost effective way for everyone in the office
to scan, organize, find and share all documents, including paper, PDF,
application files and photographs?  Among programs to consider, PaperPort
combines the efficiency of document management, the convenience of advanced
scanning capabilities and the power of PDF document creation to simplify
information sharing and archiving.

The dramatic productivity gains delivered by new and available imaging
technologies such as these are a major reason for their growing popularity,
especially when organizations are seeking tools that can help overcome
increasing workloads and shrinking staff.  And with pressures mounting for
companies to take more responsibility for their part in the environmental
impact, the move toward automation, portable and green additions to work
environments has become a realistic business opportunity as well as a move
towards sustainability.

Robert Weideman is Senior Vice President & GM, Nuance, Imaging Div.

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