Why is the paperless society not yet a reality?

The use of the PC, cloud storage and other technological innovations has led many to predict that the future of the office and of society would be paperless.

Yet 40 years since the term was first coined this is still some way off.

There are many possible explanations for this.

Often people, perhaps rightly, do not trust technology and prefer a physical record or letter rather than an email which could be mis-directed or lost, a problem if it contains sensitive information.

For some, the increasing use of hacking and phishing scams suggests that many IT systems are still not sufficiently secure for the storage of sensitive data.

Similarly, if a system crashes many of us still feel safer if we can resort to a physical record of any important documents even if we have been careful to back up anything important externally.

In some cases, there are legal reasons for keeping physical documents, especially when they refer to sensitive health or personal information needed by various agencies, but also in business where there can be legal requirements for keeping documents for specified a minimum amount of time.

Nevertheless, as concerns about the environment and climate increase we are likely to see ever more pressure to minimise our use of paper and save trees.

On the other hand, it has been calculated that technology, accounts for a whopping 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, very close to the amount produced by the airline industry.

Also, there is no denying that hardware and software can be cruelly expensive for new companies or individuals especially in developing parts of the world.

Scientists have also researched our ability to retain information based on the format by which it is delivered and here, again, it has been found that we remember far more information that we have read in printed form rather than on screen.

It seems, the move to a paperless society is a lot more complex than we think.