Web-based, online faxing eliminates waste and reduces costs. But why should anyone care?

Fax machines (or office machines with fax capability) are sold today as loss leaders – that is, a fax machine vendor is willing to break even or lose money, ┬ábecause the ink is designed to run out quickly and the profit margins on fax machine ink cartridges can be 100% to 300%. Incidentally, a typical four-person small office can pay three times the cost of the fax machine in the first 12 months of operation. So the cost savings of having a PC-based internet fax service that runs over the web is obvious, but the true price of not having internet faxing capabilities is in what MBAs call “opportunity cost.”

Internet fax services (also called “virtual fax” or “web fax”) let a user click twice to send a fax and keep a digital sent and receipt record. How many times have we heard, “Can you resend that fax?” Or “Let me run to our fax machine and check…”. Already, law firms and medical offices have seen a surge in internet fax services usage as a better, more compliant way to have sent and receipt records of fax correspondence.

In addition, the lack of being able to securely sign a Microsoft Word document and send it via internet fax is mostly a thing of the past, as Adobe Acrobat now allows users to insert digital signatures (with automated date/time stamps) into most any document. Then, after a couple mouse-clicks through the internet fax service, that document is sent. One can send faxes electronically to multiple entities, and employees are freed from waiting for a fax confirmation, loading pages into a machine or hearing a fast busy signal when the fax machine is dialing out. Total up the minutes per employee saved each year and it probably adds up to a couple thousand dollars annually for a typical small office.

Which brings us to the most interesting element of internet fax services – that they make fax documents a collaborative productivity tool for business. It sounds trivial, but once a small business turns to internet faxing, it’s like being able to keep in touch with your fax documents throughout your office much like the way email allows better, faster group communications. And it will be the last time anyone in that office hears, “Did anyone get that fax?”