JAPANESE PORN….Over lunch I read an Economist article that discussed a little-known fact about the Japanese: when it comes to business, they are actually technophobes. Their factories may be full of shiny new robots, but their offices are distinctly lacking in the PCs, scanners, printers, workflow software, and other high tech accoutrements so common in the U.S.

There are a bunch of cultural explanations for this, but here’s my favorite story about it. I was in Tokyo a few years ago and gave my standard spiel to a small seminar group about the wonders of document imaging: if you scan all your paper and store it on a computer, you can get rid of your file cabinets, retrieve stuff faster, provide better customer service, etc. etc.

Afterward I was talking to one of our resellers and we were discussing “white mail” scanning, which basically means that instead of delivering mail to people at your company, you scan it in the mailroom and then send it to them electronically. This isn’t intended for all mail, of course, usually just for large volumes of predictable mail such as credit card applications and bill payments.

Still, it would never work, my reseller told me. Why not? After all, it’s a pretty mature technology used by lots of companies. Very low risk.

The upper managers would never permit it. Huh? “Oh no, they would be afraid that someone would open up one of their envelopes and discover the porn that they have delivered to their offices in order to keep it secret from their wives.”

Hmmm, hadn’t thought of that. But you know, neither my company nor any other in the industry ever had much luck selling our wares in Japan. He must have been onto something.