Dear Steve … Paper Still Matters

Contrary to what Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles … Paper Still Matters. Paper is an Asset.

Ballmer mentions a customer having important paper, then jokes, "See how old I am I still refer to paper as if it's important?" (Source: Seattle Times)

Which, of course, I heard and live tweeted the comment below on July 11th during the #WPC11 event in Los Angeles.


Something to think about. There are two kinds of paper:

  • Nostalgic – Things you want to keep for sentimental reasons. Birth Certificates, Diplomas and photos too.
  • Business Critical - These are part of a workflow and typically have a lifespan that can be measured in minutes or years. They need to be tracked and managed effectively.

Paper is NOT going away

In 20 or 30 years if we have a truly paperless office (and a perhaps a flying car) then we have done a truly great thing. In the meantime … people keep consuming more paper. The stats bear this out with this post on The Paperless Office.

My Request to Steve ---

Call me. Let’s talk about how paper based assets can be managed effectively and efficiently in a Microsoft environment.

Hint: SharePoint is a great platform for managing documents --- whether they are scanned in or born digital

Which is why I wrote a post highlighting SharePoint’s Next Billion Dollars.

Document Capture Drives Business

Scanning, often times called Document Capture, and the bigger picture world of ECM world is important to Microsoft and to the Microsoft partner ecosystem.

Why? Because each step pulls thru a lot of Microsoft products – both Client & Server … and CLOUD! (Microsoft is All In!)

A few Microsoft products that are intrinsic to the ECM ecosystem are listed below. Microsoft has a significant opportunity in the ECM space. Partners have a significant opportunity too.

SERVER SharePoint SQL Server Windows Server FAST
CLIENT Windows 7 Windows Phone 7 Bing Office 2010
CLOUD Azure Azure Services Office 365 Skype
has Potential

Am I Serious?

I wrote this post from an optimistic point of view. I am optimistic that SteveB and Microsoft will see the value of paper. My prediction is that if Microsoft pays attention to the ECM space that it will serve the customer and partner community. So, YES … I am quite serious in my open offer to Steve Ballmer and to Microsoft.

Note: Everyone can play. This offer to connect and think about this multi-billion dollar opportunity is open to partners too.

My Offer to Steve and to Microsoft

Let my company help Microsoft go paperless.

Together we have some of the best technologies in the world ... Not to mention two of the top brands. With the combined power of our partner networks and our massive (installed) customer base we can make a difference.

  • Imagine ... We Can Be The Difference

  • imageRemember - Every dollar to Microsoft pulls thru $7.85 for Partners

  • Bonus - ECM Done Right is Green

What do you think?
  • Is Steve Ballmer right? Is paper dead (pun not intended)
  • Will we see a paperless office within the next 20 years?
  • Will Nostalgic & Business Critical paper continue to exist?

Reality Check

I know Steve Ballmer is a busy guy and I don’t expect to hear from him directly, but I am open to the conversation if he is. I have worked for Microsoft and in the Microsoft Partner Ecosystem for close to 20 years now. I know this is a viable space and one that is ready to take off. All it needs a little more focus and a few less comments like Steve made at WPC. Companies need to manage their paper based assets. Microsoft has a billion reasons to help their customers and partners manage their paper based assets.

Where do we go from here?

I’m always looking for people to think and collaborate with around ECM and the next generation of business processes. If you are interested in continuing this conversation please ping me at one of my contact points or post a comment here.

imageAbout The Author:

I have spent the last 20 years working in various aspects of the ECM industry. I am currently with
Kodak as a Director of Business Development. In my past I have spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and at Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.


Kris Fuehr said…
Indeed, paper is a medium for which many prefer and some will never leave. Paper may be considered "old school" in the same way that pencils may seem old school to pen users. Media finds a place where is serves the unmet need. (e.g. I can't write upside down with a pen).

But your macro point here is that we need to process and share paper WITHIN a digital world rather than claim to leave paper behind.

I hope Steve takes you up on your offer. :-)
Anonymous said…
Thanks for provided blog.Something to think about. There are two kinds of paper.One of the Nostalgic paper and secondly Business Critical.These papers are really very useful and informative for anyone.You are right that we always want to take good care of these.
Something to think about.Right that there are 2 kinds of paper.One of the Nostalgic paper and secondly Business Critical.These papers are really very useful and informative for anyone.You are right that we always want to take good care of these.