“Just fax it to me.” How often do you find yourself saying that nowadays?
It could be more than you think if you’re in some industries. Even though email and other technological tools have come out that could take the place of faxing, the good old fax machine seems to have made it through alive.
But why? Why are people holding on so desperately to the fax machine, which seems a lot like a dinosaur in our digital age?
The fear of letting go
The answer is an intriguing mixture of business processes that have not been updated to take advantage of newer document scanning solutions, and human inertia.
In healthcare, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requires that documents transmitted between doctors, clinics, hospitals, and insurers be “secure,” and that providers use “reasonable safeguards” when sending messages over any medium. In practice, many providers have interpreted this to mean that faxes – which can be difficult to intercept if sent over an analog phone line – are acceptable, but email – which may be subject to eavesdropping on the network, unless it is encrypted – is not.
In law, attorneys must follow the rules of the courts that hold jurisdiction over their cases. Many courts accept fax signatures in place of an original on a document, but don’t accept signatures sent via email. Moreover, communications between attorneys and judges must go through clerks, be given to opposing counsel, and be archived in the official case record. In most jurisdictions, email is not allowed for these communications; physical mail and personal service are preferred, while fax is an acceptable second choice.
Other regulated industries, such as mortgage banking and insurance, are also steadfast users of fax machines, because faxed contracts are generally considered to be as legally binding as a signed-in-person version. Then, too, there are several large generations of workers who have developed loyalty to what they think of as an efficient, reliable, and secure means of communicating.
It’s time to let the dinosaur go
In order to remain comfortable using the standalone fax machine, you have to ignore its substantial shortcomings as a tool for business in the 21st century. These include:
- Higher cost management
- Shaky security for documents
- Poor-quality reproduction
- Environmental impact (wasted paper, toner, etc.)
- The need for dedicated hardware and analog phone lines
Multi-function printers and the security of MFP software
For any organization that routinely processes documents, the multi-function printer (MFP) is a compelling alternative with its document capture software. In addition to faxing, the MFP has built-in capability for printing, copying, scanning, and emailing. It enables you not to just send and receive faxes, but to integrate faxing with all of the other document-focused tasks you perform as part of your business process. And when equipped with today’s advanced capture and workflow software, the MFP lets you take advantage of technological advances that the fax machine has missed out on – things like the Internet, and the cloud.
Compared with other legacy technologies, the standalone fax machine has had a long and generally productive run. It’s time to put it to rest. MFPs are here, and they are providing the modern day document capture and sending the fax machine provided, without all of the security risks.