Has the paperless dream come any closer to reality over the course of 2015?

How has the move to paperless progressed in 2015?

At the start of 2015, organisations had big dreams for paperless. Many hinted that this was going to be the year that they finally embraced digital document management solutions and the cloud in a bid to improve their green credentials and wave goodbye to paper forever.

But did these paperless dreams become a reality? And how far has the move to paperless progressed during 2015? We take a look below.

Paperless developments

One of the biggest and most high-profile paperless developments of 2015 is the NHS's bid to move all its documents and data to digital platforms over the next few years.

Although this has been in the pipeline since 2013, real strides towards the target have been made this year, while the challenges the large-scale task presents have also begun to be felt.

For instance, ensuring the security of online documents remains an issue for the health service, particularly as the organisation handles so many confidential and sensitive documents.

What's more, local authorities across Britain have begun to embrace paperless, with Richmondshire Council announcing in October that it was switching to a fully computerised system in a bid to save as much as £20,000, while dramatically improving its carbon footprint at the same time.

As the end of the year approaches, Specsavers has also announced it is attempting to lower its carbon footprint with a new eVoucher online system that tracks everything from a customer's purchase to their aftercare.

The opticians chain has recognised that posting 1,000 paper vouchers would involve as many emissions as a 27.5-mile aeroplane flight.

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, commented: "Postage is just one element. Adding in that there is no longer a need to print paper vouchers, and that the whole allocation, distribution and redemption system is now paperless, the carbon savings could be significant."

What's still to be done?

While these paperless steps are all in the right direction, the majority of organisations still have a marathon ahead of them before they reach the paperless 'extremes' of Minute's offices in the Netherlands.

The organisation is so determined to be 100 per cent paperless that it took the decision to move its printer to one of the most inaccessible rooms in the building, alongside purchasing iPads for every employee, which they were made to trade their old notepads with.

In addition, the firm has scrapped business cards, favouring LinkedIn connections, alongside introducing electronic signing systems and neglecting its postbox so that contacts know their mail will not be answered unless they communicate using digital methods.

Minute has even taken the step of removing toilet paper from its bathrooms. Instead, the company has installed high-tech bidet-style toilets, allowing it to be a totally paperless organisation.

What does 2016 hold for paperless?

Although significant strides have been made with the move towards paperless in 2015, there is still a long way to go before UK businesses are 100 per cent digital.

It is expected that 2016 will see more of the same with regard to the move, with the NHS stepping up its efforts even further as its government-set paperless deadline draws ever nearer.

In fact, it is believed that by embracing eInvoicing alongside digital data and document storage, the health service could achieve huge cost savings, as well as move further towards it paperless goal.

Nick Wilson, managing director at Advanced Business Solutions, explained: "The NHS supply chain recorded savings of £15.6 million in 2014 by moving to eInvoicing. However, this figure only scratches the surface of what could be achieved if the whole of the NHS and its 200,000 suppliers similarly made the switch."

What else could next year hold for paperless? Watch this space.

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