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7 ways most brands screw up the paperless office concept

The paperless office is an increasingly popular concept adopted by businesses of all size, but there are some pitfalls to avoid.

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Enthusiasm behind paperless office concept

Many people hear the word “cloud” and expect to snap their fingers and become paperless overnight, completely organized and compliant, but it isn’t exactly as easy as the commercials make it sound. Yes, digital document management can be tremendous business tool, but some of the basic free solutions are risky and don’t help to keep your company organized or even in compliance.

One of the more robust options on the market is 12-year old eFileCabinet, which began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms, growing in popularity to a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations capture, manage and protect their data in any industry.

Matt Peterson, CEO of eFileCabinet, notes that businesses adopt the concept of the paperless office with great enthusiasm, but grapple with the practical implications of getting such an implementation off the ground. “The transition from a paper-intensive operation to a completely paperless environment has seen several organizations abandon the initiative because of the stress such a transition places on their operating environment. The sustainability of a paperless office relies on the careful, well-administered execution of several cross-departmental initiatives that are pivotal to a smooth transition.”

Peterson adds that when executed incorrectly, the transition can hurt productivity and financial benefits that come with the paperless office. Based on his area of expertise, Peterson offers seven ways that most businesses are actually screwing up their digital document management. In his words:

1. Rapid, Disorganized Transition:

Expecting your organization to complete the move to a paperless environment in a few days or even a couple of weeks can throw several administrative and operational processes out of gear. Business constraints and imperatives often drive the pursuit of paperless operations at a pace that is far more than an organization can manage. More often than not, any productivity gains are nullified by the time spent learning how to use document management software, scheduling time on scanners. When implementing a paperless office solution such as eFileCabinet, it is important to do so in a planned, structured transition with pragmatic timelines.

2. File Hoarding:

The lack of proper indexing procedures or the absence of a streamlined process or policy that governs the creation, duplication, digitization, preservation and disposal of company documentation can result in an e-landfill—a large, unmanageable digital cabinet filled with orphaned files and documents that take up server space. Without proper training and clear file retention deadlines an organization runs the risk of wasting time by overloading the digital filing system with files that will never be accessed or have already passed their legal and useful life span. Consequently, the process of search and retrieval of documents takes far longer than necessary. While this may seem to be an elementary oversight, in reality, it is a costly mistake that wastes time, impacts productivity and is a frustrating experience, come audit season.

3. Placing Intellectual Assets at Risk:

Most organizations make the mistake of digitizing documents without a definite backup or archival plan. More often than not, scanned copies of files are saved into a random folder structure. The effect of a force majeure situation or a natural disaster on such an office could result in a partial or complete shutdown of operations. Some organizations establish a degree of contingency by relying on backup tapes or ISO-compliant folder storage to safeguard data. In the absence of such an effort, sensitive company data and intellectual assets may end up in a large group of un-indexed files and open to theft or accidental deletion.

4. Non-Compliant Storage and Sharing:

Saving and organizing files through Microsoft Windows folders can be a tedious, time-intensive effort and can often be in violation of the paperless standards set by many compliance governing bodies. Governance standards, international law and global financial regulatory requirements under several acts such as Sarbanes-Oxley and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as the SEC require an organization to provide verifiable and timely access to digital records. The proper establishment of role-based security as a means to controlling access to digital is sometimes tedious but always necessary step for security purposes. When implementing a paperless office, it is important to use compliance-friendly features such as the eFileCabinet SecureDrawer to transfer confidential data and documents across operational environments.

5. Non-existent or Incomplete Data Backup:

An organization’s data backup process is a vital and indispensable component of its overall disaster recovery plan. Cloud based document management software offers a two-edged solution that features a scheduled backup of an organization’s data while ensuring data is backed up into a cloud mitigates the risks of local storage. Several organizations mistake data management software as a substitute for their IT backup services. While document management services do digitize and help an office manage paperwork more efficiently, these electronic documents need to be backed up as part of a business continuity plan. Particularly, if the organization has chosen a traditional on-premise software platform as opposed to the ever-increasing in popularity cloud based solution. A non-existent or incomplete data backup plan could have an adverse fiscal and reputational impact on a company.

6. Incorrect Formats:

One of the most common mistakes of going paperless is the digitization of documents into unreadable or unsearchable formats. A typical scanner converts documents into PDF files that do not allow form or text data to be read or copied. A robust document management solution needs to come with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities to truly leverage the power of paperless operations. The lack of OCR-enabled documents, tables, spreadsheets and presentations causes all scanned documents to become static — i.e., their contents cannot be recognized as text and therefore, cannot be copied. Scanning without OCR is one of the most significant hindrances to a paperless office because it prevents users from searching or copying text from within scanned documents.

7. Trapped by the Desktop Computer:

In a world that relies on the increased mobility and portability of data, the paperless office often extends beyond the boundaries of the office building. When organizations go paper-free, they often make the mistake of using a document management solution that does not offer secure, cloud-based access or the ability to access documents through a mobile app.

Peterson notes that “Understanding the potential roadblocks to a successful paperless office can help your organization avoid them and ease into the use of digital document management software without losing productivity and efficiency.”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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Tech News

Not just for gaming: How virtual reality can save PTSD patients

(TECH NEWS) Thanks to its ability to simulate situations safely, virtual reality technologies are proving effective in therapy for PTSD patients.

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Woman wearing a VR headset in warm sunny lighting, PTSD patients treatment

Over the last year, a great many people have developed a new and sometimes dangerous relationship with a new emotional state, anxiety. I know that personally I’d never had a panic attack in my life until the middle of the pandemic. For many these emotions have taken the form of actual disorders. Actual mental influences which affect everyday life on a large scale. One of the most common forms of which is PTSD.

This disorder has many different aspects and can affect people in a number of different and debilitating ways. Finding treatments for PTSD patients and other anxiety disorders – especially treatments that don’t involve drugging people into oblivion has been difficult.

A lot of these disorders require exposure therapy. Putting people back into similar situations which caused the original trauma so that their brains can adjust to the situation and not get stuck in pain or panic loops. But how do you do that for things like battlefield trauma. You can’t just create situations with gunfire and dead bodies! Or can you?

This is where VR starts coming in. Thanks to the falling cost of VR headsets, noted by The Economist, psychologists are more capable of creating these real world situations that can actually help people adjust to their individual trauma.

One therapist went so far as to compare it to easy access opioids for therapy. This tool is so powerful that of the 20 veterans that they started with, 16 of them no longer qualify for the categories of PTSD. That’s a 75% success rate with an over-the-counter medicine. I can think of antihistamines and painkillers that aren’t that good.

I’ve grown up around PTSD patients. The majority of my family have been in the military. I was even looking at a career before I was denied service. I have enough friends that deal with PTSD issues that I have a list of things I remember not to invite certain people to so as not to trigger it. Any and every tool available that could help people adapt to their trauma is worthwhile.

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Tech News

Tired of email spam? This silly, petty solution might provide vindication

(TECH NEWS) If you struggle to keep your inbox clean thanks to a multitude of emails, the widget “You’ve Got Spam” could provide some petty catharsis.

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Email icon with 20 possible spam emails on phone screen.

We’re all spending a lot of time behind our computers and inside of our inboxes these days, so it makes sense that some people—not naming names—might be sick of seeing several unsolicited emails a day from marketers and other unsavory businesses.

While we can’t recommend a mature, adult solution that hasn’t already been beaten to death (looking at you, “inbox zero” crowd), we can recommend a childish one: Signing solicitors up for spam.

If you do decide to go the petty route, “You’ve Got Spam”—a free email widget from MSCHF—has you covered. Upon installing the widget, you can configure it to respond automatically to incoming cold-marketing emails with tons of subscriptions to spam sources, thus resulting in overwhelming the sender with a crowded inbox and cultivating a potentially misplaced sense of catharsis for yourself.

The widget itself is fairly simple: You only need to install it to Gmail from the MSCHF website. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive an email from a person from whom you can safely assume you’ll never be receiving favors ever again, you can open it and click the “You’ve Got Spam” icon to sign the sender up for spam lists galore.

See? Petty, but effective.

The developer page does fail to make the distinction between the promised “100” subscriptions and the “hundreds of spam subscriptions” discussed on Product Hunt. But one can assume that anyone who dares trespass on the sacred grounds of your squeaky-clean inbox will rue the day they did so regardless of the exact number of cat litter magazine subscriptions they receive.

Of course, actually using something like “You’ve Got Spam” is, realistically, a poor choice. It takes exactly as much effort to type, “We’ll pass – thanks!” as a response to anyone cold-emailing you, and you’re substantially less likely to piss off the actual human being on the other side by doing so. Services like this are heavy on the comedic shock value, but the empathy side tends to lack a discernible presence.

That said, if you absolutely must wreck someone’s day—and inbox—MSCHF’s “You’ve Got Spam” is a pretty ingenious way to do it.

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Tech News

Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?

(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.

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Woman holding book and a phone, with headphones, participating in Clubhouse.

Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.

If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.

Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.

But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.

Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.

A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.

Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.

It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.

As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.

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