How do we end up using a huge amount of paper considering that we are living in an era of mobile and technological innovations? We rely so heavily on online communications – we write hundreds of emails, we submit online forms, we have automated online processes in place, we send requests for processes through phone…you get the gist. Then just how do use so much paper?
Let’s observe the following facts based on different reports and white papers published in the last few years:
- A typical office worker uses an estimated 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year
- Average worldwide annual paper consumption is 48KG per person
- An estimated 95% of business information is still stored on paper
- Paper manufacturing is the 3rd largest user of fossil fuels worldwide
But it’s not like no one is doing anything. Top of the list of doers in this regard is Netherlands, where a whopping 77 percent of paper is recycled annually. Germany recycles 67 percent, Japan recycles 52 percent and the US recycles 45 percent of paper. Although there are no published figures on paper recycling in Qatar, I was heartened to read that Qatar making efforts towards a paperless office environment. Mobile, digitization, new media, automation, e-services…these are all keywords that would shape the future of work environment in Qatar.
According to the recently published Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2013: Government Report, 87 percent of the organizations surveyed in the country indicated that they have fully or partially automated processes for areas such as human resources, finance, procurement, and inventory processes and systems. Of the entities that have taken steps toward automation, 94 percent report that they have automated the human resources function, followed by other core processes including finance (88 percent), IT (55 percent), and procurement (52 percent).
What is more important is the finding that Government organizations and employees in Qatar are highly connected to the Internet and to one another. This emphasizes that if there are opportunities for them to go paperless, they will be more inclined to avoid any wastage of paper.
The number of personal computing devices including desktop computers, laptops, and tablets installed per 100 permanent employees in the government sector reached 101. Email and word processing are the most commonly used applications. Employees report that they use the Internet most commonly for sending work emails, searching for work-related information, and communicating with colleagues. This increase in activities implies less reliance of paper and if sustained can contribute towards the goal of us becoming a paperless society.
Another encouraging aspect highlighted in the Report is the significant progress made in improving Qatar’s online presence, with 95 percent of government entities having a Web presence, and 82 percent having a bilingual (in Arabic and English) site. How does that help? Well an estimated 35 percent of public services are offered online, and over the next 12 months, 51 percent of public services will be offered online, including inquiry services, transactional services, and transactions with online payment functionality.
In terms of e-government, Qatar ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide when it comes to ICT usage and prioritization by the government, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2013. The country scores high on four indicators: ICT use and government efficiency; government procurement of advanced technology; government prioritization of ICT; and importance of ICT to the government’s vision. Qatar also ranked 48th out of 193 countries in the United Nations’ 2012 e-government development index, which measures the willingness and capacity of governments to use ICT to deliver public services, a jump from 53rd in 2008.
The above and other key findings in the report indicate Qatar’s willingness to and efforts in ICT adoption. And as more and more awareness is created about benefits of ICT , even if subtly, the residents will increase adoption of mobile in their personal and professional lives and reduce their consumption of conventional paper-based services.
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