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Five Ways to Get More From Your Fax in 2014

December 31, 2013

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

With 2014 upon us, it is a good time to make New Year’s resolutions and improve various parts of our lives.

While many of us are making New Year’s resolutions about weight loss or financial goals, I think there’s also a strong case for using the new year as an opportunity to improve our fax use.

For many, the idea of a fax at all in 2014 might sound silly. But fax is still a critical communications technology for many business relationships, even if there are newer technologies on the market today. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. And fax isn’t broken.

Yet, there’s room to make the trusty fax more useful, especially since the industry has upgraded fax technology. With fax-over-IP (FoIP), the fax machine has new tricks. So coming into 2014, it is a good time to reflect on what fax can do today and how most of us can use our fax machines more effectively.

First, there is mobility. With FoIP, fax has gone mobile. By making fax digital with a FoIP solution such as that offered by FaxSIPit, users can now send and receive faxes from their smartphone. No, they can’t print out faxes from a cell phone with a special adapter—with FoIP, faxes arrive digitally by email.

A second way to better use the fax machine is taking advantage of automatic routing. Instead of having faxes collect in a pile at the end of a fax machine, potentially going lost or unseen, it now is possible for faxes to route automatically to the e-mail inbox of the intended recipient (or to several recipients simultaneously). No more lost faxes.

A third upgrade to the usefulness of the fax is that FoIP allows incoming faxes to be processed by optical character recognition. This means that faxes can be searched, much the way that Microsoft (News - Alert) Word documents currently can be searched. This can have dramatic productivity gains for businesses that get more than ads for vacation rentals.

A fourth way to make faxes more useful in 2014 is through automated business processes. A fax can now trigger other digital processes, allowing for complex workflows to be developed. While this is not applicable to every business, for those that rely on fax this can be a big win.

Finally, in the spirit of creativity, let me put forward an unconventional but potentially quite useful way to improve the fax experience.

As I mentioned, it now is possible for faxes to trigger automated workflows. When combining this technology with in-home automation solutions now commercially available for less than $100, businesses can get visual but non-obtrusive signaling that an incoming fax has come in. When a fax comes in, for instance, a light can dim. Or, if paired with one of those glowing orbs found on ThinkGeek, an orb can glow green when a fax comes in at the other end of the office.

Okay, that last suggestion was a bit silly. But the point is clear: There’s a lot more to the fax than what most of us are doing with it.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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