Even catalogs with 70 years of history can’t save a dying industry

Manuals! Catalogs! magazines! All made of paper. What a waste of resources and an endangerment to the environment.

The objects that we use and how we use them are not static concepts. They are ever-changing and technology is challenging and accelerating that change to a new level. One of the inevitable aspects that we long thought to be an integral part of our everyday life and is now being substituted is paper.

In other words, Digitization will replace all forms of papers and everything in between.

Why is the entire industry of paper is dying?

Digitization is taking the world by storm and replacing paper from viewing products to even taking notes in class. Paper-based products in their digital format are more accessible, easy to manage, and don’t require tons of physical space. You can access them on any device and read them whenever you fancy. This ease of access and efficiency is impacting the paper industry on an immense scale.”It is noted that the paper mill industry in the US is expected to decline at the rate of 2.5 percent through 2022

Furthermore, one of the most prominent disadvantages of paper is its destructive impact on the environment. Earth is suffering enough for us to burden it with something that can be substituted easily. According to the World Counts: “Over 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually” to produce paper. “The life cycle of paper is damaging to the environment from beginning to end. It starts off with a tree being cut down and ends its life by being burned – emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

Why is Ikea giving up on paper catalogs?

This shift and change are pushing even big companies to follow the trend and find innovative ways to respond to the new market need. For instance, Ikea announced that it will discontinue its paper catalogs after a successful career. The circulation of the catalogs reached its peak in 2016 with 200 million copies sold in 32 languages. Ikea manager, Konrad Grüss said, “It has been one of our best-known and best-loved products for 70 years, inspiring billions of people around the world.” Even this huge success cannot withstand the thundersome impact of 2020.

As a result, the 2021 edition will be the last catalog that IKEA puts out. They have made this strategic decision following the shock of the 2020 pandemic. They observed that their readership is in decline and is more digital. The covid-19 pandemic made online shopping and social media “the new normal”. Therefore, Ikea has made that rational decision to be able to meet consumers’ needs and compete in a new market full of startups who are the headmen when it comes to online inclusion.

Why should Ikea digitally transform its manuals next?

What is even more iconic than Ikea catalogs are Ikea Manuals. We all grew to recognize and know the memorable character on every instruction manual that we receive. The supposedly helpful figure that assists us in assembly manuals is also made of paper.

So consequently, the next rational decision of Ikea is to get rid of these manuals as well. Although they had a successful career, their time is over. Indeed, Ikea manuals can be very confusing and overwhelming. They suck away the enjoyment of building furniture and transform it into a never-ending nightmare.

Most importantly, imagine the number of printed instructions that most of the buyers don’t use and end up in the trash bin. Image the deadly impact that has on our environment.

All of the above makes us believe that a new way of delivering these manuals should be the way forward with Ikea.

What are the possible alternatives for manuals and catalogs to Ikea?

Technology has allowed us to bring the coolest feature to manuals: Smart 3D. Certainly, Interactive 3D can and will revolutionize the way we assemble our products. It allows inventors to communicate their ideas to the users, the operators, and the customers, or any consumer without ambiguity. The humane way.

We at Onboard, for example, have created a platform in which companies can create manuals for their customers in a safe way while gaining valuable insights.

Another alternative that can digitally transform manuals is augmented reality. This can be an exciting route for Ikea given their newly developed Place App that according to the Articutaral Digest “The IKEA Place App Could Revolutionize Furniture Shopping.”

In conclusion, going paperless will no longer be a choice but rather a movement that we all will have to Onboard. Major brands like Ikea are taking the lead and others will soon follow in their footsteps.

An image on a tablet isn’t Digital Transformation, nor innovation.

Creating a connected industry is the main promise of the fourth industrial revolution. Its goal is to apply digital transformation to the entire industry supply chain. However, applying this will push the manufacturers to get out of their comfort zones of predefined “successful” processes to be able to adapt to the market since these processes are becoming more and more complex for their frontline workers, who are still unfamiliar with these new technologies, and thus afraid of it.
Lots of concerns are rising with this sped up change, so the question becomes:

how do we innovate and leave humans at the center?


Humans are visual learners by nature, our first experience and discovery of our surroundings are through 3D (physical hand interactions). Images and text are only means of communication humans use to interact with each other. They abstract the true nature of things and sometimes even distort it. For example, manuals who are aimed to help end up confusing even more and lead to a 70% churn rate. They even tend to cause serious injuries especially when a user is using the product for the first time.

At Onboard, we aim to empower inventors and users to communicate humanly. Inventors who are engineers or product designers should be able to communicate their ideas. These ideas are to be understood by the users, the operators, and the customers in the most humane way possible, 3D.

How this digital transformation can benefit the industry?

Digital Transformation

3D brings the flat ideas of 2D to life which automatically improves the overall performance of the industry. According to The Global Digital Transformation Survey Report 2020, 75% of the responders thought that digital transformation has a positive outcome on their business. 3D manuals help identify problems earlier and pinpoint what exactly customers are struggling to understand. This saves the company millions of dollars by fixing what is confusing to customers as soon as possible. Thus, no money nor time is lost on long exhausting training sessions since the manuals are already interactive and immersive enough.

What is the added value of “truly” digitizing manuals and documents for consumers

Making a 3D manual for each product or process will help greatly the person executing. Indeed, it is easier to see the different parts, to know how to use it, and what to do exactly. It saves valuable hours by reducing the time spent trying to decipher the so-called digitally transformed 2D image displayed on a tablet. More engagement and better user experience are guaranteed since 3D helps match the reality of the consumer.

These manuals and documents are also accessible via an application or a web platform. This enables users to see the different components and follow the instructions allowing them to carry out their work efficiently. They can even streamline exchanges in real-time via augmented reality.

In conclusion, capturing reality on an image or a video is not a digital transformation that is merely creating a digital representation fixed in time. However, using 3D as visual communication is, when coupled with the power of the cloud. Having you onboard with us ensures that you will digitize your user manuals the right way. Most importantly, you’ll provide your customers with the best user experience, all whilst learning from them.

Digital Transformation

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