My first job was selling for an AM radio station that no one listened to. My second job was with EBC Communications selling two bleeding edge technologies, cell phones and fax machines. In 1986, cell phones were rare, and fax machines were even more so. The first fax machine I sold was a Nitsuko machine that was purchased by a Mail Boxes Etc franchise in Westport. It cost over $5000. The paper came in big rolls and used thermal transfer to print. Ah, the good old days...
Today, cell phones are practically disposable, and every business office has a fax machine. Many are gathering dust except when they spit out junk faxes shilling cheap vacations and flat roof repairs. Is this yet another technology going the way of the typewriter?
Well, yes, no and maybe.
There are still many business that use fax; medical, real estate, legal to name a few. But even in this die hard community of fax users, the trend is toward paperless document delivery. I just renewed an insurance policy using an on line e-signature to bind coverage. Health care's push to electronic medical records is reducing fax traffic in this document rich profession. Many real estate companies have set up web portals so their agents can access documents and handle them electronically.
Part of the problem with fax is geography. The traditional fax machine sits on a counter in your office and you have to go to it. In today's "everything at my fingertips" world, this is a disadvantage. This is where a business phone system can come into play. Many support fax server technology, which allows you to send and receive faxes from your desktop.
Another way to handle faxing is by using cloud based solutions. This is a service which converts fax documents into an e-mail with a PDF attachment and also allows you to send a document to cloud and it will convert it to a fax which can be received by a traditional fax machine. This is paperless, requires no equipment, and you only pay for the service you use.
The curtain call for faxing may be coming soon. As the telecommunications world moves to VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and more businesses use IP based services, faxing becomes technically difficult. The compression and error correction technology that allows us to speak over IP services can cause fax transmissions (which are analog signals) to fail. The cost to have a dedicated fax line is hard to justify when all you get are deli menus and vacation offers.
I can see a day in the not-too-distant future when faxing is something we remember fondly and the technology is no longer a component of a business phone system. If you would like to evaluate fax technology, send me a fax at 203-234-4999.