The advent of on-line commerce and networking has led many to envision what would be a paper-maker's nightmare and the electric company's dream - the paperless office. Thomas Ng, the new executive director of ASM eTrade, believes, however, that the paperless office is a myth. 'Electronic commerce streamlines the paperwork. It is not to eliminate paper,' Mr Ng said. 'The reason for people to automate is to organise information better and more efficiently.' A division of Asian Sources Media, eTrade offers software and services aimed at the international trade industry. Its products enable large retailers in the United States and Europe to link with Asia-based manufacturers. 'We provide connectivity,' Mr Ng said. The company has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and the US, and Mr Ng is eyeing the mainland and Taiwan for expansion. His duties as executive director will be to develop eTrade's worldwide operations in the areas of marketing, sales and customer service. Before joining eTrade, Mr Ng was at Computer Associates (CA) where he took on several positions over a three-year period - the latest being senior vice-president and chief technology officer. The in-house software team at eTrade was a key draw-card for him 'because 99 per cent of software is developed in the US and Europe', he said. 'We do all the development here. I think the most challenging aspect is to run a company that is producing its own software. It's a pretty interesting opportunity.' Software produced by eTrade 'improves productivity, reduces errors and basically saves time and money', said Mr Ng, adding that it also saved paperwork, but was not designed to - or intended to - eliminate it. 'There is a certain convenience to paper. It is simple to pass around at a meeting. And it has a lifespan of a number of years.'