Still have a business fax machine in your office?
Actually, it’s not that strange to have holdover nineties tech, like a business fax machine, at work. Despite the leaps and bounds in workplace applications and technologies, the fax has proven surprisingly resilient. Organization throughout the world still use 46.3 million fax machines. Out of small to medium-sized organizations, 89 percent use fax in some form or another. And, according to some estimates, fax still dominates some industry communications. In the medical field alone, faxes make up 75 percent of all communications.
And that’s with all the inherent problems of a fax machine. Some of the most common complaints about these machines include:
- Paper jams. Like any printer, the fax machine gets jammed. But when a fax fails to print, that could mean a costly delay of important and time-sensitive paperwork.
- Busy signals. Sometimes the fax doesn’t even go through because someone else beat you to the punch.
- Blurry or illegible printouts. You discover your toner is out or your printer is broken, but only after the fax has ruined the printout of an important document.
- Faxes sent to the wrong location. It’s easy to mess up a number and send your fax to a completely unrelated address.
- Costs of paper, ink, etc. Just switching 5 percent of fax usage to online fax would save an estimated 10 billion pages of paper—roughly 1 million trees a year. And the average ink cartridge prints about 200 pages and costs between $20 to $50. There’s also the cost of power, and time spent sending the fax. It all adds up.
Why businesses still use fax.
Let’s face fact: it’s been a long time since the fax machine represented the pinnacle of information technology. So how has it managed to survive when so many other of its contemporary technologies have long since retired? Here are a few reasons we found:
#1. Familiarity, nostalgia, or both.
A fax machine may come with drawbacks, but perhaps your more seasoned employees are more comfortable with them. Offices that cater to an older employee demographic, like the baby boomers, are more liable to use fax machines. In any event, it’s good to have multiple communication avenues for both your employees and your customers.
#2. Fax is, in some cases, more secure.
Faxes are typically believed to be more secure than other means. The stolen emails and data breaches in the headlines only reinforces this belief. Of course, fax machines aren’t usually kept in a secure area, and anyone could grab a printed message. But while in transit, a document is considered safer traveling via fax than email. The reasoning is, it’s easier to intercept an unencrypted email. To intercept a fax, you’d need to tap the phone line, which can prove more difficult.
#3. Your customers still use fax.
Many of your customers may prefer fax to other forms of document-sharing. In some industries, fax is required for security of regulatory purposes. If your company is global, you’ll want to hang onto fax as well. In many countries, like Japan, fax is still the preferred document-transferring method. There are also parts of the world where Internet isn’t all that reliable, but phone lines are. For those cases, you still need to have a fax machine on hand.
#4. Industry standards and government regulations.
Doctors and other medical professionals must adhere to healthcare guidelines like HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs the transmission of confidential patient records, requiring strict security measures. Because fax is generally considered more secure than other methods, it has become the preferred means of transferring medical records. Lawyers are also notorious faxers because of the privileged nature of their correspondence. Faxes also offer other advantages to lawyers, like delivery confirmation and the ability to send documents too big for email.
#5. Delivery confirmation creates a paper trail.
When a fax is sent, the fax machine creates a printout. The printout confirms where and when the document was sent and whether it arrived successfully. Lawyers often need this verification for both legal and liability purposes.
#6. Fax machines are more convenient.
To email a document, you’ve got to print it out, sign it, scan it, and then send it. With a fax machine, you can cut out several of those steps. Sending documents are more straightforward, and all you need is a phone number. There are of course options to digitally sign documents, but in legal circles a digital signature on an email isn’t always honored. The signature on a fax machine, on the other hand, typically carries the same weight as an originally signed document.
#7. Business fax machines are adapting.
The actual process of faxing hasn’t changed much over the years, but the fax machine has evolved. These days, faxing functionality is usually wrapped up in an “all-in-one” office copier that also doubles as a scanner and printer. This maintains faxing as an option without forcing businesses to invest in a machine only dedicated only to faxing.
The modern alternative to the fax machine.
Luckily, you no longer need a business fax machine if you want to fax. In Unified Communications, online fax services (also called fax to email, efax, and virtual fax) are available. Your employees can send and receive faxes from their desktop computers, much like an email. The benefit is, every employee can set up his or her own virtual fax. You don’t need one dedicated fax line because every phone line becomes a potential fax line.
Jive offers virtual faxing as part of our cloud-based phone system. Moving your phone system to the Cloud eliminates the need for hardware like a business fax machine. Check out our whitepaper below to learn how a business phone system in the Cloud cuts business costs and raises companies to the next level.