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The office automation industry is one that has become an essential part of any business, with printing being one of the most basic business processes; one that has been changing over the years in respect to the convenience that users have at their fingertips. With the increase in mobile devices in the workplace, printer manufacturers have been in a race to build intelligent devices that cater for such things as cloud printing. With all this change in the industry, is a paperless office a reality, atleast in the next five years?

The short answer to that question is,”NO!” And we can’t be sure when it will be. The truth is that the amount of paper being used is actually not decreasing, we are just using paper differently. In fact, according to the Wordl Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), it is predicted that the total paper consumption in South Africa will rise from the 400 million tons in 2013 to between 450 and 500-million tons in 2020. Although this increase may not be significant, if we look at international markets, we see that the paper consumption is still very high with the United Stated (US) producing approximately 21 million tons of paper in 2014.

Whilst businesses are making a concerted effort to use less paper, businesses are still heavily reliant on paper, specifically in the legal, financial and healthcare fields where paper is still seen as essential to the business. We do see in many businesses that the use of digital devices to replace paper is slowly increasing with the development of software that allows for paperless contract signing, paperless orders and the likes however, these will not replace the use of paper for many years to come as computers have not yet been developed to fully cut out the need for paper.