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5 Ways Paperless BI will Save the World

Wednesday 22 April 2015

We’ve been talking about going paperless in the office for over forty years but I still see a mound of reports, newsletters, notes and letters cluttering up my office space. Despite Jeremy Hunt’s best assertions that we’d have online health records by March 2015 it seems to be no closer than when we first heard it two years ago. The average office worker is using up to 45 sheets of paper a day – there is still a lot of work to be done!

Waste management charity WRAP have guidelines on how to order and use recycled materials in the office. However, you can follow these guidelines and still end up with piles of reports, notes and documents on your desk by the end of every week.

Today, the introduction of high resolution report sharing adds to the many ways Business Intelligence and analytics software can help your organisation dispense of the never-ending pile of paper (and thus save the rainforest/greenbelt/trees in your back garden in the process).

1. Reports viewable on all devices

Business Analytics software is now being primarily web-based and reports have become accessible on all devices through any supported web browser. Today’s HTML5 and CSS standards make it easy to create and view reports on one machine and see them scale to fit on another, be it created on a 28” monitor to be viewed iPhone 6S or vice versa. Printing reports wastes paper and ink, and ultimately become no more usable or sharable than one viewed on your smartphone.

2. Unifying disparate data sources

Modern BI software offers one version of the truth by unifying data sources ranging from unstructured documents to CSV files and SQL Server dumps. Invoicing and order forms can be created in-application to remove the need for physical filing systems and manual invoice management. ‘Regular Expressions’ allow you to turn unstructured PDF files from different companies, all in different designs, into a structured database with invoice number, cost, order size, customer, etc. that is indexed automatically.

3. Commentary and ‘Social BI’

No longer do you have to manually take notes when thinking of changes to a report in a meeting. Modern BI software has in-application social media functions like real names, profile pictures and comment streams to let you note, track and enforce changes to reports within the application. No more writing bullet points on a post-it note and putting it on your colleagues monitor – just make the note on the report itself and set up an alert to email them straight to their inbox. Or even better, make it a pop-up when they next log on!

4. High resolution reporting

Reports and charts are now generated at 4K resolution – far superior to that of your standard PDF and printer! Exporting reports out of the application interface naturally loses definition and depreciates the value of your shiny new reporting tool. What is the point in spending time and money on visual analytics and high-resolution reporting packages if you just export them to PDF and print them on low quality paper? Rather than being a convenience, the time spent exporting, printing and reading these reports manually makes paperless BI not just an environmental target – it becomes a major source of operational efficiency.

5. Data security

Printed reports and notes lying around the place can be a security hazard in organisations with strict data security rules. By ensuring reports are viewed through analytics software users cannot circumvent data restrictions and policies enforced by system administrators. As hard as you may try, there’s no padlock for a notepad that works as well as an encrypted software suite with enhanced user and realm security. Upgrading your analytics package will both increase data security whilst helping you achieve those targets for decreased paper use.

There are a lot of people in the world and if we use 45 sheets of paper a day the level of environmental and operational impact adds up. Yes you might not save the world single-handedly, but moving towards paperless BI is a no brainer. Reducing operational costs whilst improving efficiency and meeting government targets? Contact us and see if we can help your organisation keep up with the present whilst preserving the future.

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