It’s easy to think that e-mail might make faxing obsolete, however, quite the opposite is true. According to IDC, an IT market intelligence and advisory company, the faxing industry is an $83 billion global market today and will grow past $90 billion in the next few years. These numbers represent only the transmission revenue and do not include hardware, software, maintenance costs or the most significant cost of traditional faxing the human cost.
According to a 1998 survey by The Gallup Organization for Pitney Bowes Inc., 66 percent of Fortune 500 companies still prefer faxing compared to other communication methods. Although there are more than 80 million e-mail addresses in the world, almost half are in the United States. According to IDC, however, 1.5 billion people have access to a fax machine. To reach these billion and a half people who do not have an e-mail address, documents will have to be sent via fax.
Probably the most significant reason for the popularity of faxing is that it will not go away. The cultural reality is that people often prefer paper. As a result, there has been an explosion of new business processes that conclude in a paper event.
Business enterprises that set out in the 1990s to replace paper processes with electronic processes have been the first to recognize that faxing is nothing less than remote printing. And that if the completion of the process is best served with printing, they should remote-print the document. In addition, there are a number of Internet-based services available that provide the ability to complete large-scale remote printing of critical business documents with the same velocity of electronic messages, while enabling the recipient to receive the document in the preferred paper form.
But these Internet-based fax services provide a lot more than traditional faxing methods. The more-advanced online fax services offer the ability to accept incoming faxes via an assigned phone number and automatically route the received faxes to the user’s e-mail address. Should you work on a computer which doesn’t have the fax driver installed, some of the fax services offer an e-mail-to-fax interface, where sending a fax is as easy as sending an e-mail with an attachment to the recipient’s fax number.
A case study
A business owner was wondering whether to install fax servers on his company’s network or to go with an Internet-based fax service. The company had four dedicated fax servers, each with four fax cards, handling four fax lines each. These 64 fax lines were idle most of the week; however, every Thursday night and Friday they were extremely busy. That was the time the company’s manufacturing software produced weekly purchase orders. These orders needed to be faxed to hundreds of vendors. It took the company almost twenty hours to send the faxes when all fax servers were working properly, which wasn’t always the case.
The owner was slightly skeptical of using an Internet-based fax service, so he gave it a trial run. He provided copies of an entire run of the purchase orders to run through the Internet fax service. It took less than thirty minutes to transmit the faxes to the service, and less than two hours later, all faxes had reached the recipients.
The owner switched to the fax service a few days later. It just made a lot of business sense.