What happened when Google decided to kill off Google Reader without asking us ? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The networked world made a sort of squeaky protest and then moved on.
In fact if anything it was a kick up the pants for the imitators to finally put something more meaningful into their own services. And lo and behold most of them were creating new ways to curate and feed content within hours. Bravo.
And so after a scan of the morning’s Twitter feed I see a mention of document capture business process solutions and my immediate reaction was “this should be dead by now“. Why ? Well we really should be pushing beyond paper, where is the promise of the paperless office ?
- How many times have you been asked to fill in a form online and then print it off for a signature ?
- Why do we scan receipts for an expense claim but still have to submit the form and the physical receipts with it ?
It’s sheer madness in the 21st century.
Examine the case of the electronic signature (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_signature) Here we have a perfectly valid method of signing and enforcing a consumer based contract for a product or service. There is little need nowadays to require a customer to complete a form in black ink. We also hold all manner of electronic detail of the customer through clubcards, email subscription, website registration, so why the need to send something physically when the electronic version is just as easy ?
Buy a product at WalMart or Tesco, scan the loyalty card, no need for a receipt. It’s that simple. And yet I walk into a supermarket, my good scanned, the receipt is printed and then I’m asked “do you need the receipt ?”. And it’s binned if I say “no”. Utterly senseless.
So to the point of this article. Why are we afraid of the customer to make such a radical move as force them all down a paperless route ? If one large organization took it upon themselves to just say ‘no more’ and made their customer base transact and communicate without a paper means the world won’t stop turning. If anything such a move would not only force the customer to adapt it would force the company to innovate and make sure that all its processes were accessible, robust and slick via social, mobile, web and telephone means.
It would also force companies selling frankly outdated customer service solutions to rethink their strategies. Document capture in a world where everything is moving towards digital transaction is a fools game.
Google kills Reader. The world keeps spinning.
Your organization kills paper. The consumer world keeps spinning.
The consumer kills paper. The business process world keeps spinning.
Except for those selling paper based BPMS/ ECM solutions and processes. Your head will spin in this new world.