How Paperless Offices Work

Paperless Office Solutions
Electronic paper records allow users to access information from any device, including PDAs.
Electronic paper records allow users to access information from any device, including PDAs.
Photographer: Akhilesh Sharma | Agency: Dreamstime

While document management is an important part of the paperless office, other technology can help make the switch to electronic communication easier. If your goal is to eliminate paper, take a look at these options.

Data Back-Up -- For a paperless solution to work, a company needs the security of knowing digital documents are duplicated. This can be done through on-site back-up to a disk, hard drive or server. However, some less-used data can simply be archived, or stored on or off site for record keeping or in case it's needed at some point [source: Digital Assets].

Companies providing document hosting services frequently offer data archiving services. They may also offer data mirroring, in which an exact copy, or mirrored repository, of your database is kept off site so that your company can connect to it and use it at any time.

Electronic Faxing -- With electronic faxing, a company no longer needs paper-using fax machines. Incoming faxes are converted to digital images and sent to individual e-mail boxes. Similarly, documents created on the desktop can be sent to a fax machine via e-mail or the Web. Faxing also is more secure because paper copies can't be lost or left on a fax machine for everyone to see.

Security Solutions -- While electronic documents provide a level of security beyond paper on their own, you may want to go beyond the security offered as part of a document management solution. In choosing a security solution, consider the three main points of security: Does it provide confidentiality by protecting against unauthorized entry? Does it have integrity in that data within the device can't be altered? And does it limit availability by requiring authorization before the database can be used?

As technology advances, other solutions to the paper problem will undoubtedly emerge. One in development is Xerox Corp.'s electronic paper, which allows notations on thin digital displays with a stylus. The notations can either be erased or saved digitally. Another, Anoto Group's intelligent paper, also allows notations with a stylus, but using a magnetic ink. The notations appear on the paper and simultaneously on a computer screen.

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