Business paper use remains high

CompTIA study finds shift to 'paperless office' isn't happening as swiftly as once expected

Businesses aren't rushing to create paperless offices; in fact, some are relying on paper documents more than ever, according to a new study by CompTIA.

The computer industry trade association's survey of 400 IT and business executives on the use of printers found that most companies expect to maintain or increase paper usage over the next two years.

The survey found that 38% of the companies are printing more paper documents than two years ago, and another 8% said they are doing significantly more printing. Of the balance, 27% said there was no change, 23% said they were doing less printing, and 3% said they were doing significantly less printing.

Those surveyed were also asked to forecast their printing needs in the next two years, and for the most part, the percentages show little variance.

"I was surprised it wasn't on the wane more," said Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTia.

Herbert believes personal printing, such as printing out boarding tickets or directions, is on a downward trend, but commercial printing is maintaining its pace.

While some businesses have moved away from the use of paper, sectors like education, government and health care remain extremely paper-intensive, said Herbert.

Printer sales seems to back up the trend, according to IDC data cited by CompTia. In 2010, IDC reported that 125.2 million printers were shipped worldwide, up 12.1% from the prior year.

The study is aimed at companies in the managed print services market. With the results, CompTia advises that such companies must offer customers more than printer maintenance services. They must also move to provide services around document management, such as document retention and workflow.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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