Finally Paperless Society?


I gave a full-day workshop on business strategy last week while in Tokyo. We used some business case studies, recent articles, and the issues of the clients of the participants as examples.  One of the companies we discussed was in business machine/document industry.

As the strategy development is about the future, we try to identify upcoming trends  we  find in this industry.  One of them was the paper-less society.  As one important source of profit in the business machine/document industry is the charge for paper etc., we began discussing whether paper would survive in the digital era.  Two groups–one  who think that the paperless society would finally arrive and the other who think that paper would survive as we have discussed the possibility of paperless society for the past two decades or so, but it has not quite materialized.

The discussion went on not only to pdf files sent via e-mail, but also onto iPad.  I myself began using iPad to read and review documents which are sent by e-mail.  I started doing so because of several reasons–1) printer is not easily accessible from where I am 2)wireless is available to have iPad, PC etc. online simultaneously 3) iPad is very easy to read as you can enlarge letters etc.

I have a feeling that paperless society may actually be here soon. I do NOT think that we will ever abandon paper, but the use of paper will be much less from now.  Finally the dream? of paperless society may come true.

Yoko Ishikura
Yoko Ishikura is a Professor at Hitotsubashi University ICS in the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy in Japan. She has held positions as a professor at the School of International Politics, Economics and Business of Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, as a consultant at McKinsey and Company Inc. Japan and a visiting professor at Darden School.

Professor Ishikura is a consultant to a number of multinational companies and has been a frequent speaker at management conferences, seminars, and workshops throughout the world. She was a member of the Regulatory Reform Committee for the Japanese government and the International Competitiveness Commission for METI. She is currently a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum.

She is the author of Strategic Shift from OR choices to AND paradigm, Building Core Skills of Organization , and the co-author of the following publications: Managing Diversity in the 21st Century, Strategy for Cluster Initiatives in Japan , and Building a Career to the World Class Professionals – all in Japanese. Her books in English include: Asian Advantage, Hitotsubashi on Knowledge Management and Trust and Antitrust in Asian Business Alliances.

Professor Ishikura’s current research interests are focused on global competition, innovation, and knowledge management. She received her BA from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan; MBA from Darden School, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia; and DBA from Harvard Business School.
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