I want to develop a paperless application in .NET to reduce paper usage at my university. It will contain Exchange data and reporting.
What do I need to study before I start?
Things you will need to learn about are data integrity and protection. You want a system that is paperless - without paper, your data is the only proof of things happening in your business. How will you ensure your data is secure? Safe? Uncorrupted? You may want to consider an automatic backup feature in the program. You'll also need to plan back-up and restore infrastructure and look into off-site storage. Also important is presentation of data. If you don't have paper forms, you have to have some other way for them to be filled out, or viewed.
Most of the high-level research will probably be platform-independent (i.e. it won't matter if you're using .NET or not). For presentation of data, you may want to look in WPF.
You only need to learn two things:
Without more details of (1) it is difficult to advise on (2).
Presumably you'll need mechanisms to collect, update and store the information. In which case you'll need a UI, database and reporting tool.
Who are the users? In what contexts do they use the paper system? nswering this will help choose platform and UI technology (i.e web-based, desktop, portable device etc), and security measures.
How structured is the data? Does it change regularly? The answers will help determine what data storage needs you have.
Learn your favourite .NET language and start implementing a solution. I don't think the "paperless" aspect factors in too much. It depends on what your application is replacing (i.e. what paper trail you are looking to eliminate).
My suggestion is learning C# and implementing your solution using ASP.NET.