If you've ever tried to rid your residence or workplace of cockroaches, you know how resistant those insects can be. Maybe you can think of fax machines the same way, since they live in our workplaces today!
Alexander Bain invented the fax machine and patented it in 1843! How many other technologies do you think have survived so long? The use of fax technology peaked in 1997, and I am willing to bet that anyone who still trusts or has to support faxes today is ready for them to leave. The technology has been excellent to fulfill its purpose, but most of us want to migrate 100% to IP now. Why do we still have these machines? The reason, in summary: many medical offices, law firms and government agencies still require faxes to guarantee the authenticity and security of the information transferred and received.
In case you still have some of these (which will soon be) antiques in use, here are some tips to take them to the container:
Know the culture of your company. Sometimes you need to know when you are swimming upstream from your clients / co-workers with technological solutions. The implementation of a new technology is about "buying" as well as productivity and cost savings, and today, fewer and fewer employees are reluctant to get rid of fax-based processes. Especially as Millennials, most of whom have never sent a fax, become the majority in the workplace, there is little reason not to delete the latest fax machines if you have not already done so.
Do not send fax by VoIP or SIP. I know that someone is going to leave a comment in this publication that sending faxes through VoIP or SIP trunks is not a problem. However, I have seen too many failed first-hand instances, as well as between peers and clients, to consider sending faxes through IP circuits as reliable. Regardless of the fax protocol you use, do yourself a favor and do not send fax over IP circuits unless you have no other option.
Know your options. It doesn't have 31 flavors like Baskin-Robbins, but there are several options to consider in this transition.
Use a fax server: you can keep the fax machines, but limit the circuits (POTS or PRI) to reduce costs. This will satisfy the need to support secure and reliable data transmissions while reducing monthly recurring costs.
Use an eFax service: when much of our world is digital, this solution allows you to conserve digital storage and transmit it to those who still use old fax machines. You can receive faxes by email and send them in the same way, through a web page or by using the fax function on your printer to send a printed document as a fax.
Similarly to the above, you can send a fax through HTTPS and keep the fax machines in play. This is not ideal, but it is an option until you can keep moving forward to eliminate fax machines completely.
Don't worry … or just discard fax machines: this is the most drastic, but when you have a pulse in your company's culture and know that getting rid of your fax machines will not inhibit productivity, do it! Of course, Murphy's law will inevitably come into play here as soon as you discard the last fax machine and cancel the lines, so consider sending an IP fax during a transition period.
I still have to meet someone who needs a fax machine like Milton from "Office Space" makes his stapler red. However, there are options to migrate away from this 176-year technology. The steps you must follow in migration are the key to success or failure.
"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving customers in all business sectors and governments around the world.
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