The humble fax machine might be an outdated piece of hardware, the technology behind it is still very much alive. And this is why it's still a critical business tool today.
Considering that the first fax was sent over 170 years ago, and was considered the height of business tech during the 80s, you would have thought that the process of sending a fax would be long gone by now.
In 2018, businesses can share a library’s worth of data via an invisible digital cloud and talk to potential investors on the other side of the world using 4K live streaming — all from a smartphone. With such an abundance of technology, why would any business still want to send or receive faxes?
Faxing is integral to many businesses
Fax documents play a critical role in many elements of business operation, especially when considering legal matters, such as contracts. While e-contracts work for some businesses, others are less accepting. Lawyers and legal firms, many government agencies, those in private pharmacy and healthcare, and plenty of other highly regulated industries often want proof of a genuine hand signature on items relating to anything with a legal implication; from contracts and purchase orders to surveys and client agreements. When signing off on an order for a shipment of pharmaceuticals worth hundreds of thousands, for example, a typed signature on an email just won’t do.
Fax remains the fastest and most reliable way to offer a personal, identifiable and legally binding signature.
Fax documents are also widely accepted to have more reliable date and time stamps than emails, which gives them greater value where accuracy of information is concerned.
Yet the role of fax in business isn’t purely a result of legality.
In order to be a competitive company, businesses must have the functionality available to communicate and collaborate with all manner of third parties, no matter where they are based or how they choose to operate.
When most people think of Japanese businesses and consumers, they imagine people who are excited about being on the cutting edge of technology. For the most part, this is a fair assumption. Some of the technology Japan has promised in 2018 looks like it’s come straight out of science fiction.
Despite this, the Japanese still have an affinity for a piece of office technology which has barely changed in 30 years: the fax machine. In businesses across the country, sending and receiving vital documents via fax isn’t considered “old school” — it’s the norm. Japan isn’t the only example of a business culture still hung up on old fax technology either. Many other nations and brands use fax as their primary method of sharing files.
But does this mean you have to revert to using technology designed in the 1800s? Not quite. New technology exists that has brought faxing into the 21st century.
Faxing has been modernized
The future of fax sounds like an oxymoron. Yet fax is finally evolving to cope with the modern world. The fax machine itself is considered a dated piece of technology, and rightly so. It consumes resources, requires maintenance, isn’t optimized for streamlined office use, has numerous associated costs and lacks efficiency. However, faxing is still a fundamental part of business operation, and without the ability to fax, your business faces restrictions.
Yet cumbersome fax machines aren't your only option anymore.
You can now send and receive faxes via a mobile app or specialist software, through a technological advancement known as cloud fax or email fax. In other words, you don’t need your own fax machine to collaborate and transmit documents with a business that still relies on an old-fashioned setup — yet you can still reap the benefits.
Cloud faxing combines the advantages of the old-fashioned fax with the ease of use, accessibility and cost-saving benefits of modern smart technology. It works like sending a fax would through a machine, yet it is all done digitally. Since most documents these days are produced on a digital platform, cloud faxing allows you to import these files into specially designed software and add signatures through touchscreen technology. If you do need to fax a physical document, this can also be captured using cameras or scanners and sent through the internet using the software.
Fax machines operated by other businesses can still receive documents through this digital format, and the platform can also receive faxed documents from traditional fax machines and convert them into readable file types. Modern businesses using cloud faxing needn’t worry about the disadvantages of owning archaic fax machines or the pitfalls of relying on email alone.
Online fax streamlines operations
Consider the alternative to digitally faxing a document to someone. If you have a paper document — such as a contract — and you want someone else to have a copy of that paper document to sign and send back to you, what’s the easiest way of doing it?
Even with the latest tech, phones and emails aren’t as fast for this job as you’d think. You need to scan it, type up an email, send it, wait for the other side to see it, wait for them to download it, print it, sign it, scan it again, and send it back to you. In contrast, a fax that is sent using a faxing service can simply be signed by the recipient — done electronically if they also use cloud fax services — and returned to the sender. This is made all the more easy with modern fax technology, as you can utilize software for even quicker turnaround times.
Author: Naomi Young is a tech and marketing expert who works with eFax — a company bringing faxing into 2018. eFax is an award-winning fax service that helps countless businesspeople use their modern software to send and receive faxes.