You know about the paperless cockpit, and we’ve talked about the paperless office, but what does going paperless actually mean for your business? It may be easy to dismiss the move to paperless as a fancy way to give your employees the latest digital toys. But the reality is that there are real savings to be had by moving to the cloud and using mobile devices to run your business. Take the example of Carolina Realty Group, a small business that made the switch and saved $20,000 a year.

Mobility may be the single-most disruptive trend in business today. Carolina Realty recognized access to data and the ability to work from anywhere as major competitive advantages in selling real estate. If their agents could access listings on tablets and smartphones—but more importantly, use that data to engage their customers in a way that drove new revenue—they could flourish in an economy that has not been kind to the real estate industry.

Carolina Realty Group agents needed to work from anywhere, and they needed a secure solution that worked within a small business’ budget. They evaluated iPads and Google Apps, but decided to go with Surface, Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices with Office 365. These technologies allowed them run their business on the go without compromise.

Real estate is an industry that is playing catch-up in terms of technology adoption. Anyone who has faced the mountain of paperwork required to close a deal knows this firsthand. Potential buyers are used to seamless technology integration in other parts of their lives and they now expect the same from their real estate agents too. When Carolina Realty switched to Windows Phone, Surface tablets and Windows 8 devices with Office 365, they found a solution that met all their needs and impressed their customers.

In real estate, agents aren’t making money if they’re in the office. Using tablets and a cloud solution enabled them to take care of business without compromise. In fact, going paperless was an outcome rather than a business directive.

In 2013, a Carolina Realty Group broker sold two multi-million dollar houses using nothing more than his phone and Skype. Remote buyers saw a tour of the house via a Skype video call and bought the property without ever stepping foot on it. In addition, when meeting with customers face-to-face, paperwork is signed through Surface devices and a stylus, and the use of Office 365 and SharePoint to track lockbox combinations has prevented costly lockboxes from being lost.

To date, Carolina Realty Group has saved $20,000 ($7000 in IT costs alone) annually in overhead—which doesn’t even count the increase in sales their agents have seen thanks to their ability to get things done when they’re out of the office. Five years ago, agents couldn’t leave the office without a briefcase full of paper. Now, if they walk out with a Surface and a Windows phone, they have everything they need to get the job done. The paperless office makes sense not just for the enterprise, but for any business that needs to stay competitive by empowering their workers while cutting costs.