Here at Concord, we spend every day talking to organizations who need to change how they approach faxing. In this article we are going to cover four common business drivers for these kinds of conversations.
The Fax Server Upgrade
It’s rare that you hear I.T. teams excitedly discussing their forthcoming fax server upgrade. I.T. often treats faxing like gutters; a necessary part of the infrastructure but somewhat less exciting than, well, everything else. So, what happens when the gutters need replacing?
What we hear from most fax server users who contact Concord:
- Fax server(s) have been in place for a very long time (often decades)
- The organization has sunk significant resources into the fax hardware and software over the years.
- The cost of the next upgrade will likely outweigh the value they will get from the server.
- A fax service is up for consideration but there are concerns over integration and security.
Fax server customers frequently have a hard time considering alternatives to a platform they have invested so heavily in. There are also concerns about loss of control, safety of data and the perceived complexity associated with migrating to a cloud-based platform.
Fax Server users are often surprised to learn how narrow the gap is between their fax server and an enterprise fax service. Fax services frequently offer a more secure faxing environment than their on-premise counterparts and provide a wide range of options for sending, receiving and integrating fax with business applications. Yes, contrary to what you may have heard, you can integrate cloud-based fax with your line of business systems.
Many fax server users also find the their faxing needs have changed since they initially purchase their fax server. Our advice is to perform a requirements refresh to better understand the needs of the users. This will do much to inform your selection criteria.
The Telecoms Upgrade
Even if your current fax set up has been happily chugging along for the least several years, it may well present some challenges when you come to upgrading your telephony infrastructure. Switching from an analog to an IP-based (a.k.a digital) telephone network frequently leaves the fax server as the odd man out.
What we hear from buyers with undertaking a telephony upgrade:
- The current fax environment will not be supported by the new telephony infrastructure.
- The organization is considering adapting current fax server to make it compatible.
- The other option includes leaving some analog telephony in place for fax.
Firstly, please don’t leave analog lines in simply to support fax. This does almost nothing to solve the core problem while creating additional costs for the business.
Fax Server users might consider upgrading/adapting their fax server but in many cases the cost and complexity of doing so outweighs the benefits. It should also be noted that this approach is effectively retrofitting an analog server for survival in a digital environment.
The right solution for this situation is one where the technology is either purpose built for the digital infrastructure or, one that’s environment-agnostic. A fax service has no infrastructure requirement (except for internet access) which is why so many firms retire the idea of on-premise fax server altogether.
HIPAA Compliant Fax
HIPAA compliance isn’t new but it is the number one reason healthcare-related organizations contact Concord.
What we hear from buyers regulated by HIPAA:
- Many of them are “mostly compliant”
- Compliance often complicates or elongates their processes
- There is a need for a solution which doesn’t significantly increase the operational burden on employees.
HIPAA compliant fax solutions function much like diets; they will work as long as you follow the program. Fax services have become popular with healthcare providers as they provide that path to compliance without the cost and complexity of a traditional on-premise solution like a fax server. Any fax service you do consider should include a BAA (Business Associate Agreement) to ensure that the provider is handling your data in accordance with HIPAA regulations.
Remember: If fax services are like diets, leaving printed copies of protected health information in the paper tray is like eating three deep pan pizzas topped with Snickers bars and packets of butter.
Fax Application Integration
Ever wonder why faxing remains so prevalent? Just blame the machines. Faxing is still the most universally accepted way to exchange documents and images, and business applications are sending and receiving more pages than you are.
What we hear from buyers with fax integration requirements:
- Fax servers are currently in use today
- The organization is actively seeking to move core applications and services to the cloud
- Perception is that the only way to integrate fax is using a fax server.
If you take away just one thing from this post, let it be this: You can integrate fax services with your business systems and business applications. You can integrate fax with your platforms whether they are located on your own local servers, hosted by a third party or accessed through a SaaS subscription.
Enterprise cloud fax services will offer many of the same tools available from fax server vendors. The deployment and capabilities of these tools will range from simple out-of-the-box desktop utilities which require no programming to more sophisticated APIs which will enable you to embed fax directly into your application interfaces and business processes.
Whatever is driving your search for a new fax solution, determine your core requirements before looking at different platforms and vendors.
- Don’t assume your requirements are the same as they were when you purchases your last solution.
- Find a solution which will work in concert with your business without needing significant augmentation.
- Examine any preconceptions you have about newer technologies – particularly if they came from an existing vendor.