Riding "The Mobile Wave" - Part 3: "The Demise of Paper"

(This is the third installment in a series of comments about Michael Saylor's book, The Mobile Wave:  How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything published in 2012.  Part 1  was published on March 6; Part 2 was published March 20.)

Chapter 3 in The Mobile Wave is entitled "The Demise of Paper."  In this chapter Michael Saylor traces the history of print media from clay to paper and the disruptive changes along the way  that have accelerated the process of making information increasingly accessible to us (such as the printing press, desktop publishing and personal printers).  Then he focuses in on the trend toward the use of smartphones and tablets for consuming information, the positive advantages of doing so, and the forces shaping a future that will involve fewer and fewer hardbound books and printed magazines, newspapers and business documents.

The Downside of Producing the Paper We Use

Even though paper is a convenient medium, it nevertheless is inefficient, labor-intensive, and subject to being misplaced.  Assembling a view of all the paper documents that pertain to particular transaction or case is time-consuming and not very portable.  

The pulp and paper manufacturing industry is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouses gases in the United States.  In addition to carbon dioxide there are also highly toxic emissions.  Each year, paper mills release millions of pounds of chlorine dioxide, methanol, formaldehyde, and hydrochloric acid into the atmosphere.  Pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters of any industry in the nation. 

Consider the Many Advantage of the Mobile Screen in Book Publishing Alone:

  • Content can be organized and presented in any way the author wants, with a linear path or hyper-texting allowing multiple paths through the content.
  • The reader can create electronic, searchable highlights and annotations and look up definitions and dig deeper into the material in an instant.
  • The costs of a printing press, paper, ink, electricity, lubricants, cleaners, and labor to produce the books are eliminated.
  • The costs of warehousing, distribution, and retailing vanish.
  • The consumer costs of driving to a bookstore and waiting in line disappear.  A book can be purchased anywhere, anytime, in an instant.


Many of our customers, when asked about the motivations behind their initiative to implement touch-less document processing systems, answered, "to save paper, to go green."  And indeed, their management has issued a mandate to reduce paper to the greatest degree possible in order to reduce its environmental impact.  But at the same time, they recognize the dramatic positive economic on their business by doing so.  This led us to create our "G2" micro-site to help inform decision-makers about the compound value to society and business of streamlining paper-driven processes.  Saylor makes me realize, more than ever, that when we consider a future of increasing population with its proportional demand on natural resources along with leapfrog advances in technology and an explosion in global connectivity, that future is likely to arrive before we expect it.

Stay tuned for more from Michael Saylor's book, The Mobile Wave.

Until next time,

John Queen
Digital Designs, Inc.
Moving Business Beyond Paper