Fax. It’s a thing of the past, right?
A relic of a long-forgotten era. Well you might be surprised to learn that fax is still being used across the world today.
But its days are now officially numbered.
With traditional PSTN/ISDN phone lines being switched off in the not so distant future (we talked a bit more about the Big Switch off in this article) it will not be possible to use fax in the traditional way.
Even in the lead up to that happening, many organisations who until recently were still using it, are finally phasing it out.
Cloud communication, secure file sharing and even digital document signing tech all seem to make its existence obsolete.
So, does the technology have any future at all? We have a look below.
Fax is still in use today… by some.
Fax boomed in the 70’s and 80’s before the days of the internet but it has seen a sharp decline since then.
One of the main things that puts people off about it, besides the wide range of tech which appears to make it unnecessary, is the fax machines themselves.
Bulky, time consuming and prone to error, they are out of place in the modern working environment.
The NHS in the UK which historically used fax quite extensively, has been aiming to completely phase out the use of fax machines by April this year. Whether that government ordained deadline has actually been met in the wake of Covid-19 is another matter, but the intention is there
Having said that, there are still people using fax as it does have some enviable core benefits, which may be worth considering.
Some businesses will still use it for legal documents, HR material and as an alternative form of communication if the internet is not available (although we reckon this would be a pretty unique and rare scenario!)
In 2018 there were still 43 million fax machines in operation around the world.
Even Lionel Messi reportedly used a form of fax technology recently, to communicate his desire to leave Barcelona Football Club. He’s lightning fast on the pitch, but apparently not when it comes to technology.
So, what are these benefits you speak of?
Are there really any benefits to fax that are worth considering?
Well yes, a few actually.
It can improve legal authenticity.
The problem with sending things over email is that it’s not as easy to prove authenticity. Fax is trusted as a form of communication because you can guarantee what’s on the other end. This means a greater degree of trust when sending sensitive documents.
Although arguably less secure in random individual instances due to the risk of human error – being sent to the wrong person, paper copies going missing etc. – on a macro scale it’s more secure than emailing a file.
Because each individual instance of communication is direct and cannot be intercepted by hackers it presents no threat to the whole network, whereas other forms of communication might.
What you put in is what you get out.
The coherence between what is sent and what is printed out on the other side is generally guaranteed. There’s no issue of the document being formatted differently, fonts changing and bits being cut off.
But none of these benefits escape the fact that the traditional form of faxing won’t be usable once 2025 comes around and removing your current fax machinery before then is probably a good idea.
So, is there a middle of the road solution? Something that keeps the benefits of fax whilst being totally digital.
The alternatives to fax in 2020
It is possible to connect to a legacy fax machine using VoIP, meaning you could still use fax in the traditional way, just over the internet instead of the phone line.
However, this still makes use of the bulky fax machinery, which is one of the main reasons for moving on from fax in the first place.
Fortunately, there are solutions.
Cloud faxing is the way forward and it’s already gathering steam with services like eFax. It works by sending fax documents through online software and digital data protocols. It connects with your current devices, computers and phones and allows you to print from there.
All this will connect with your current fax machinery so if you are insistent on keeping it, the option is there!
Some organisations including trusts within the NHS are making use of this tech already.
Admittedly the main use of fax these days is for transferring important documents. Docusign and similar tools allow recipients to confirm receipt of those documents, therefore ensuring the legitimacy of the document and therefore streamlining the process.
We include faxing as one of the many useful features available to users of our VoIP systems. Particularly useful is our fax-to-email feature that allows small businesses to keep fax numbers and maintain fax communications with contacts that require it.
Bring your business up to date
If your business relies on fax, it might be worth considering how you can bring your business up to date.
All forms of communication including unified comms and phone systems are moving to the cloud. One of the big reasons for this is legacy technology is simply becoming too costly and time consuming to maintain.
But have no fear, moving to the cloud is simple and stress free. We guarantee you won’t miss your old systems.
Get in contact with us to find out how to move your business onto the cloud in time for the switch off. You can reach us instantly using the chat function on our website.