For everything, there is a season
Traditional fax technology has been part of business for decades. It has served its purpose well but, like all technology man has developed, something better has come along.
Sailing ships carried man from his first ventures on the sea through the beginnings of global commerce when sleek clipper ships sliced through the oceans carrying exotic trade goods between the ports of the world. But sailing ships were doomed the day man began to put motors into ships. The efficiencies of the newer technology killed off sailing ships as vessels of commerce within 75 years.
The same fate looms for the ubiquitous fax machine technology that transmits documents between dedicated machines through analog telephone lines. That technology is doomed and is rapidly being replaced by internet fax technology, which has compelling advantages.
Take, for instance, this example. Al and Bob are small business competitors who, like most businesses in the world, rely heavily on faxes. They must now send a fax and then get to an important appointment.
Al, who uses traditional faxing technology, prints the document, goes to the printer, picks up the document, goes to the fax machine, puts the document in it, enters the phone number and presses “Send.” He then waits for the call to connect, then waits for the document to send. He then waits for the fax machine to print out a confirmation of completion. But the transmission failed. So Al repeats the document placement, phone number entry, pressing “Send,” and the wait again. This time it is successful. Then Al rushes back to his desk, closes his document and rushes out to the appointment. He arrives late.
Bob uses internet fax technology. He faxes the document directly from his computer while the document is open by pressing the "Fax" icon instead of the “Print” icon. A wizard opens into which Bob enters the fax number. He presses send, closes the document and goes to his appointment. While in the car on the way, his cell phone rings and he reads the text message: "Fax Send Complete."
When Bob leaves his appointment, his cell phone rings and he gets a text message telling him a fax came from the number he was expecting. He starts his laptop and logs in to his email via his wireless broadband service. He opens his email, and there is the fax, attached as a digital document to an email. He opens it and reads it. He adds his digital signature to the document, saves it, clicks "Fax" and sends the document. He goes home.
While Al and Bob are fictional, thousands of similar scenarios are going on around the world as you read this. In the competitive world of business, the Als are bound to fail; the Bobs will succeed. And the more Als you have in your business, the more of a disadvantage to the Bobs you put yourself.
The Disadvantages of Traditional Faxing
- Ongoing Maintenance
Continual filling of machine with paper and toner. Routine maintenance of the machine. Fixing breakdowns and jams.
Cost of machine. Ongoing purchase of paper and toner. Electricity to run the machine. The physical space taken by the machine, paper and toner. Cost of regular maintenance and break down repair.
Time spent to print, pick up print, walk to machine, type in number, wait for connection and send, wait for completion, wait for completion confirmation. Time spent to call sender to check if fax was sent. Time spent waiting for faxes to send or arrive. One fax at a time – all other calls get busy signal. Can’t make or receive regular calls while fax in operation.
- No security
Confidential faxes are left on fax machine. Faxes get delivered to the wrong person. Everyone can see any fax.
- Transmission Errors
Lost faxes, incomplete faxes, illegible faxes.
- Tied to physical machine
Must go to the machine with the fax number to send or receive faxes.
Three Basic Advantages of Internet Faxing Over Traditional Faxing
A cursory look at white papers on the subject list a plethora of advantages that internet faxing have over traditional faxing, but these can all be distilled into three basic advantages:
- Digital technology means worldwide operation
Fax from any computer connected to Internet, anywhere in the world. Fax from open application or the user’s online interface. Receive faxes in email or online interface. Fax to email addresses.
- No installation or maintenance required
No hardware to maintain. Never install toner or paper.
- No more waiting
Faxes are received 24x7 and automatically routed to your email address or online account. Arrival notifications are sent to your email account, cell phone, PDA or pager. No machine jams or breakdowns. Faxes sent instantly.
- Send faxes from any application as easily as printing
No need to print a copy just to fax it. Fax directly from open documents. Instant transmission.
- Send and receive multiple faxes simultaneously
Faxes can be sent or received simultaneously. Faxes can be received while the computer is not turned on.
- Comes with a local or toll-free number
Never get a busy signal. Makes it easy and free for people to send you a fax.
Be notified of faxes you have received online, by pager, email or cell phone.
- Sign your faxes electronically
Never again print a document only to sign and resend.
- High Resolution
Always send printer-quality high resolution documents.
- Activity tracking
Call logs track all incoming and outgoing faxes and store digital images of files for later access. Bill fax activity to proper accounts. Easily resend faxes.
- No lost faxes
- No extra telephone line is required for the fax
A toll free or local number is usually offered at no extra charge.
- No fax machine purchase
All technology is online, accessible through any internet-connected computer.
- No fax machine maintenance costs
- Included pages-per-month keep fax costs down
- Eliminates cost of supplies
No need to buy toner or paper – faxes are electronic.
- No upgrade charges
- Documents remain private
The faxes are received directly in the email or online account of the user. No one else can access it. Documents are not printed out in a common area for others to see or pick up in error.
Documents are sent through safe, encrypted technology.
It is clear to anyone who compares traditional faxing to internet faxing that the latter offers compelling advantages and eliminates all of the disadvantages of the former. It can not be said more simply than this: the use of internet faxing is a competitive advantage that delivers startling savings in costs, and significant improvements in efficiency and security over traditional faxing.
Traditional faxing technology is in the same position as was sailing ship technology one hundred fifty years ago: it works fine, but it simply can not compete against the advantages of a clearly better technology. Businesses that cling to the disadvantages of the old technology can not compete, either.