'Going paperless' becoming the new norm

One recent February night, the unusually strong winds kept me hopelessly awake. Perhaps I was thinking too much about my next column, or I was just envious of my wife snoring loudly only inches away from me, as I had a flashback.

It was about a particularly memorable conversation I had in 2012 with a despondent senior who attended a presentation I was giving.

During the post-presentation Q&A, as I was enumerating the advantages of buying Google’s Nexus tablet over Samsung’s Galaxy tablet, my wife interrupted me and said “Honey, you have to talk to that lady NOW … she is in tears!”

Seeing the urgency in my wife’s face, I excused myself mid-answer and made a beeline to the senior in despair. When I asked the lady what was wrong, she said “I don’t know what to do because my investment broker just told me that I have to get an email address if I wanted to get my monthly account statements. I don’t have an email address, let alone a computer to use!”

I assured her that getting brokerage account statements electronically (aka “going paperless”) should be an option and not a requirement. I even went as far as suggesting that if the option to receive paper statements is not given she should take her nest egg elsewhere! Upon hearing that, she finally looked up, smiled and thanked me for putting her dilemma into perspective. Remember, this took place in 2012.

During that sleepless night last month I wondered, would my answer still be the same today, four years later, if thrust into a similar situation? I didn't answer myself that night as my wife’s snoring, the rattling windows, and the occasional car alarms going off in the neighbors’ driveways was a near-perfect cacophony of suburban living that also became an unintended lullaby for yours truly.

Several nights later, though, I got another opportunity to think about this "paperless" dilemma that afflicts many and I finally had a chance to answer my own question. Yes, in 2016 I still believe that she should have the option of going or not going paperless. However, I would also recommend setting up an email account as this kind of dilemma will likely be posed more frequently. Organizations and businesses will continue to provide incentives to “go paperless” and also make it harder to opt out of going paperless by passing on the cost, should you elect to keep receiving paper statements, as savings to the bottom line from not having to print and mail statements can be substantial for some organizations.

Similar benefits can also be reaped by consumers who save on postage and other expenses by paying bills online. Four years is like eternity in the digital world so by 2020, or even earlier, going paperless may be the new norm to embrace!

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 9:27 AM, 03.01.2016