The Future of Faxing: Moving Beyond the Cloud
It’s hard to predict the future.
We weren’t supposed to be sitting here in 2017 talking about fax. No matter that it’s Fax over IP, hosted fax, faxing in the cloud, mobile fax application or faxing from your email account. How great is that; you don’t even need a fax machine?
Most consumers and office workers don’t think that that’s great at all. It’s not that faxing shouldn’t be allowed to exist at all, though some people wouldn’t mind that either, it’s just that aren’t we over this by now? Fax is back because it never really left. Who could have predicted that?
The Future of Fax Lies in its Reliable Past
Believe it or not, the Fax over IP market has been expanding at a respectable annual growth rate of 15% since 2009. Part of that growth can be attributed to expanding IP technology, convergence, and Unified Communications. One of the real reasons that faxing is still relied on is security. Industries like healthcare, finance, and legal need to protect the privacy of their transmitted information, for obvious reasons. For example, medical information safeguards are regulated by HIPAA while the finance industry has SOX and GLBA regulations to comply with.
Recently, the FBI stated they’re no longer accepting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests via email. There’s a new online portal for some requests while standard mail and faxing are recommended for most requests. The new online portal, called the eFOIPA submission portal, may sound convenient enough on the surface but some outlets have reported that the interface limits to you 3,000 characters, or about 500 words, which might go fast if you have a complex request.
That makes faxing the answer. For the people who think faxing is “archaic,” getting information this way sounds like a nightmare. The reality is that those who are well versed in the efficiency of today’s Fax over IP (FoIP) know better. There is no “fax machine to dust off” as some will claim, because you can securely send faxes directly from an Android device, iPhone or iPad while also getting tracking, delivery confirmation, and real-time monitoring of the transmission. Same goes for your email.
Faxing today should not be a hurdle in your day. It really is just as simple as sending an email (or a text message) with the added benefit of enhanced security.
Moving Beyond Faxing in the Cloud
Now that faxing is in the cloud, many businesses are already enjoying the cost savings associated with a more efficient transport technology. It was forward thinking years ago when one moved their fax service from copper lines to IP, since the cost savings were substantial. But now that faxing is cloud-based, cost is no longer part of the promise of the technology. There were also some user experience hurdles with FoIP when the technology was still in its infancy, but today those issue have been solved. With fax over IP as reliable as faxing over copper lines and more secure than sending emails the question remains; what’s next for fax?
If agencies like the FBI continue to adopt fax for security, traceability, encryption, disaster recovery, or other reasons, the future of fax is seamless Integration. Integrating fax capabilities with your business systems and unified communication environment is a great fit for corporate workflow management. It’s the next step in cost savings and productivity enhancement.
Today, fax offers a versatile platform that can work seamlessly with most front and back end software workflows. Faxes can be sent using a desktop client, email clients, networked multifunction printers (MFPs) or via web services. Currently, faxing is as mobile as the phones that we carry in our pockets. And with the next leap into smart offices and wearable technology, the future of fax is the seamless integration of fax with other business processes and systems such as your CRM or marketing automation tools.
The vendors and users that embrace tight integration with fax are going to be the winners in this communication space. When you think of faxing and how it fits into the future of your business, don’t get hung up on thoughts of a large physical machine impeding your progress. Faxing is no longer a manual exercise, it’s simply another way of communicating that’s as virtual and customizable as any piece of software.
By Sébastien Boire-Lavigne, Executive Vice-President and CTO of XMedius