World Paper Free Day 2012: Today’s office is more likely to be paper-full than paper free

By: In: Data Privacy & Protection On: Oct 24, 2012

People love paper. It’s a long-enduring relationship that’s unlikely to end any time soon. The paperless office continues to be a distant dream for the majority of European businesses, with many still storing large volumes of paper documents on site. But this could be a problem.
Paper Free Day

Iron Mountain research shows that that the paper records piling up in offices across Europe are not necessarily managed in ways that value and protect sensitive information. The infographic below highlights the key figures from Iron Mountain research into information management and document storage practices in Europe.

Carried out in August 2012, the research consisted of interviews with businesses in six European Markets: France, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Spain, Hungary. The study sought the opinions of those with operational responsibility within IT, marketing, customer service, legal & compliance in businesses with 150-2500 employees in manufacturing, pharmaceutical, financial services and legal sectors.

Our study shows that keeping large paper archives on site is causing problems for many, with overburdened and disorganised filing systems exposing businesses to an increased risk of data loss and damage, and preventing them from harnessing the full value of their information.

The study found that more than half (58 per cent) of firms store the majority of their paper records in a central storage repository on office premises. In many cases, the information is archived in the basement, exposing sensitive customer-related and business critical documents to the risk of flood, mould or rodent damage.

More than half (51%) of the companies Iron Mountain surveyed say that the bulk of their important customer communication is stored on paper, yet as many as 45 per cent of respondents said their access and storage capabilities were under “significant strain”, leaving them unable to retrieve information quickly enough. 37 per cent went so far as to characterise their storage capabilities as “chaotic” with little if any discernible structure, with some records placed in storage to never be seen again. Alarmingly, 2% of businesses have no structure whatsoever for storing customer communication.

Many companies are deeply concerned about the business impact of their management of paper-based information. Less than a quarter (24 per cent), believe that they have the appropriate access to customer information to provide strong levels of customer management. 49 per cent are afraid of losing valuable historical documents, and a quarter feel unable to implement an approach to information management that embraces information in paper and digital formats.

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About the author

Christian Toon

RESPONSIBILITIES Christian is the functional lead responsible for developing and implementing Information Security Policy, Standards, Goals and Strategy for Iron Mountain Europe. His objectives include preserving and protecting our own and our customer information by pro-actively managing: -Privacy -Integrity -Confidentiality -Availability. Christian serves as the process owner for all ongoing activities that serve to provide appropriate access to and protect the confidentiality and integrity of customer, employee, and business information. Christian provides authoritative advice and guidance on the implementation of contractually agreed standards for Information Security and maintain or improve compliance with these standards thereafter. Christian directs and supports work to ensure Iron Mountain meets current and future obligations to deliver certified standards of Information Security such as PCI DSS and ISO/IEC 27001:2005, in a timely and cost-effective manner. This is done through the management of a compliant information risk team to support the drive for new revenue and give confidence in our ability to deliver market leading solutions EXPERIENCE Since joining Iron Mountain, Christian managed a successful scanning bureau at over 1m images per week; that supported a major government compensation program. This involved responsibilities for scanning and security compliance to both internal and external standards. Christian has experience in UK Government Security and Business Continuity built upon the last 5 years in working with Iron Mountain's Public Sector. He is also has experience with program, project and risk management. Prior to Iron Mountain, Christian was a successful Senior Operations Manager at a FMCG facility for a major high street retailer for over 5 years. Here he specialised in 'Lean' efficiencies and workflow engineering along with the development of people towards demanding service level agreements. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS Christian has obtained numerous industry specific and recognised qualifications, he is a qualified Prince2 Practitioner and ISO IEC 27001:2005 Lead Auditor as well as holding auditing qualifications with ISO 9001, ISO 18001 and 14001. Christian has also completed all the Information Assurance Levels from the National School of Government. Christian's application to the Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP) is currently under review along with a potential application to further his development with an Masters in Information Security.