Updated: Feb 27, 2020
The UK’s technology sector is one of the country’s fastest growing industries, having grown 17.6% since the EU referendum in 2016, compared with a just 5.5% for the economy as a whole.
UK tech companies secured a record £5.5bn in foreign investment in the first seven months of 2019 alone, and are now a major contributor towards the UK economy, adding around £97bn per year.
Yet despite substantial growth and technological advancement within the sector, there is one surprising area lacking innovation: many businesses are still relying on paper-based processes to operate.
Our recent ‘Death of the paper trail’ report found that the IT sector is among the most reliant on paper, with 59% of employees admitting it is still in heavy use.
Why is relying on paper an issue?
It has been shown that an astonishing 50% of all waste from businesses is paper-based, making it clear that all sectors need to do more to reduce their usage and protect the planet. However, environmental issues are not the only consequence of being too dependent on paper.
Businesses could also find themselves struggling to remain compliant, due to the ease with which paper documents are lost or damaged. In fact, our research highlighted that more than one in ten (12%) organisations have seen important documents misplaced, which has resulted in a series of legal issues.
Relying on paper also comes at considerable expense to the business. On average, companies are wasting around £2,000 per employee each year. Putting this into context, if a company employs 50 people or more, they are looking at a potential bill of at least £100,000 per year.
What can the sector do to reduce its reliance on paper?
Tech businesses will be more aware than most that there is actually no need to rely on paper, with technology already available to make paper completely redundant.
Thanks to advancements in mobile and hand-held technologies, along with speed improvements to the internet and the rapid development of cloud-based sofware, traditional communication methods are being rendered obsolete.
Digitising paper documents does not only help to reduce a business’s environmental impact, it also helps to safeguard them against being damaged or misplaced, protecting the business from compliance issues. And because digital documents are stored in the cloud, users can access the documents anywhere, at any time, from a mobile device.
Digital solutions also offer great cost saving benefits over their paper counterparts by removing the need for businesses to purchase printing materials, such as ink and paper, as well as saving time on unnecessary administrative duties such as filing. The money that is then saved can be invested into more important initiatives, such as staff training, cyber security enhancements, or upgrading equipment around the office.
With the UK’s tech sector growing faster than any other tech sector inside Europe, it would be expected for businesses at the forefront of innovation to be operating fully digitally, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. A more reliable solution is needed to help businesses operate both more sustainably, and more compliantly. Embracing digital alternatives will help the sector to cut paper usage and ensure it is working towards a more sustainable future.