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Wires, cables and the paperless office

Wires, cables and the paperless office

hose of you of a similar age to me will remember Tomorrow’s World from the 70’s and 80’s when we were promised everything from personal robo-servants to the paperless office … That went well then! The reptilian overlords who rule us from afar must be crying into their primordial broth at the volume of copper and paper we consume in our technological time-saving lives.

When Volta, Faraday and Ohm rubbed a bit of amber and learned how to manage electricity, their legacy is that every device we have has to be plugged into the mains at some point in its day. Even the latest toothbrushes and smart watches that use contactless charging have to have a base station plugged in somewhere and there is no technology on the horizon that is going to change this anytime soon. However, once you have accepted that, it is possible to get rid of nearly everything else.

Wireless keyboards and mice have been around for years, wireless printers are now commonplace and you can now get a wireless screen (but sadly, it still has to get power from somewhere). So assuming that your desktop PC has a Wi-Fi adapter as well, the only thing that needs to be plugged in is the mains. Laptops, tablets and other hand-held devices have all been completely wireless for some time, except for charging, and apparently from 2040 your car and my van will be too!

Now, as to the paperless office (or study or home), there has been some progress towards generating less paper but it seems that as fast as we get rid of some, more attacks us from another direction! Supermarkets are the worst offenders, giving us endless reams of toilet paper thinly disguised as a till receipt with unwanted vouchers for more toilet rolls, and then they send us more publicity in the post … Sorry, I seem to have gone off-topic!

The idea of paperless is that we simply stop printing! This seems to be a generational thing with the younger age groups much less likely to print anything like documents or photographs, rather using technology to view and store. The older generation prefer a hard-copy and there is a certain trust element in that, if its not tangible, then it can’t be trusted.

We print every invoice we receive, process it into our accounting system and then file it for the statutory 7 years. Why? Because we believe that the tax or VAT inspector will want it that way. Wrong! You only have to be able to prove your income or expenses, and that can be entirely electronic. I think that from April next year we might give it a try … we’ll process incoming invoices without printing, file them electronically and encourage all our suppliers to send invoices this way. For our own, we’ll show customers their invoice on a tablet when they come to pay and give them an option to receive a copy by email … but old habits die hard!

Now all I’ve got to do is to stop the credit card machine from printing its life history faster than Usain Bolt can run 100m every time we make a transaction.

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Added: 5th September 2017

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