Almost everything – from company reports to financial records – can now be created and stored digitally, on servers, clouds, hard drives and even mobile phones.
Although this may feel like progress, going 100 percent digital actually bucks a trend that goes back millennia. Some question the wisdom of completely abandoning tried-and-trusted system paper-based systems. After all, people have used paper records for fiscal records and almost every single aspect of business since the 4th millennium BC.
Digitization has already begun changing the business world, but scientists say it may also have sparked a cognitive revolution. The question of whether the human brain is adequately equipped to make such an abrupt leap from time-honored paper solutions to digital-only workplaces in now hotly debated among scientists.
Earlier this year, Samsung Printing Solutions brought you news of a cognitive research team’s findings that digital- and paper-based data have differing virtues, each working better or worse with different parts of the brain. In a recent Forbes article, however, neurological researcher Roger Dooley has explained that “paper beats digital in many ways.”
Dooley’s findings are based on studies conducted with both the United States Post Office and Canada Post, and found that people naturally tend to spend more time looking at printed materials than data presented in a digital form.
The research found that printed correspondence “requires 21 percent less cognitive effort to process than digital media.”
The team also found that looking at printed information about goods makes people think products are more valuable, memorable and desirable. Meanwhile, linguistics experts claim people can read with greater continuity and concentration when they are looking at printed materials.
No Digital Takeover
Digital data undoubtedly has its benefits – such as removing clutter from offices and helping to cut back on paper and toner usage. However, scientists now think anyone who predicted the death of the printed word with the dawn of the digital age might have spoken too soon.
According to some scientists, people of all ages just naturally prefer dealing with paper printouts and books, regardless of their cognitive state.
Deanna Marcum, managing director at academic researchers Ithaca S+R, explained earlier this year, “We observe an ongoing preference for [print] for many research activities, especially for long-form reading purposes, with direct implications for libraries and publishers.”
Maryanne Wolf, professor at Tufts University’s Department of Child Study and Human Development, told Scientific American, “We move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms [print], but know when to use the new [digital].”
And perhaps this statement is the key. For most businesses, there is no question of turning back to the old clutter-filled office, with its heavy filing cabinets and paper-covered desks. Conversely, going completely paperless may require a cognitive leap too far for both staff and clients. Instead offices now require the best of both worlds.
If scientists are right, the office of the future may not be a completely paperless one, but instead a flexible, hybrid model. Ensuring your business can go with printed solutions for certain tasks and digital for others means not all your company’s eggs end up in one basket.
Samsung Printing Solutions’ far-reaching technological advances allow for such versatility. Many of Samsung’s MFPs feature optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which allows users to scan printouts and create editable digital documentations in formats such as MS Word or Excel, all without the need for manual typing.
And with the Business Core 2.0 suite of solutions, you can sort out which digital documents you need to print and which can stay digital-only. Organizing your document workflow is quick and easy, allowing for enterprise versatility. With solutions like these, switching between print and digital is simpler, and does not force business owners into polarizing choices.
Although scientists are still far from reaching a solution to the digital vs paper conundrum, the evidence seems to point to a future where digital and print solutions will exist side-by-side. Companies that realize this fact and adapt accordingly may well reap the financial benefits in the years to come.