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Is there a place for fax machines in 21st century?

By CharlieSpencer ·
Okay, I admit it. Fax machines frost my shorts. In this day of digital communications, faxing strikes me as an antiquated technology that belongs on the scrap heap with the telegraph, ticker tape, and the pony express. Lousy resolution, waiting for confirmation, long distance phone charges at daytime rates, the waste of resources converting from or back to digital formats, the size restrictions, etc.

Does your workplace still use a fax? What keeps you tied to it? Have you been able to eliminate these electronic dinosaurs? If so, what technologies did you use to replace them? What techniques did you use to convince management to adopt those replacements?

Discuss. Use back of page if necessary.

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Where is my membership card into the club???

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to Is there a place for fax ...

For the life of me, I can't understand why these haven't been replaced.

Two employers ago, at a firm where IT was in charge of anything that plugged into the wall, we were able to implement a fax server/e-mail client. Big, BIG savings!

From the best that I can tell at my current employer and the former, a significant factor is that the fax machines aren't under IT control. So, one would have to:
1). Get another department to crunch the numbers in order to do a cost comparison
2). Get another department to relinquish a little bit of control, since IT would presumably maintain a replacement solution
3). Make a successful project pitch for replacement
4). Work to get the fax machines replaced
5). Re-train staff

I've tried, and items 1, 2 and 5 (in that people are reluctant to embrace the idea of change) are the sticking points thus far.

If I could be said to have a Quixotic cause in the office, this may be it!

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Count me in.

by boxfiddler Moderator In reply to Is there a place for fax ...

Back of the page unnecessary.

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Right on, there are even HIPAA compliant solutions

by Forum Surfer In reply to Is there a place for fax ...

So I just don't get it. There are no excuses these days. One of the ones I hear is the "phone company hard lines never go down."

Really? We have far more phone company related issues than network issues. Due to the nature of our work we occasionally seal off all external communications. But even then, phone lines are "cut" as well so what's the bfd?

The costs for these dedicated fax lines in an enterprise scenario are an astoundingly high <i>recurring</i> cost so you'd think management would be looking to get rid of them these days.

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Dedicated phone lines

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Right on, there are even ...

Oh yeah, that's a cost I completely forgot - the analog lines to support them.

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Price is my biggest issue with it

by Forum Surfer In reply to Dedicated phone lines

I could care less that it is antiquated. It is an unneeded service and an alarmingly high price. You have overpriced recurring monthly costs plus installation. In a new building that could entail much work if some engineer goofed somewhere.

Management: "We decided we want 75 fax lines."

IT: "blah blah blah we can do it better blah blah blah"

Management: "Ok, but we still want fax lines."

TelCo: "We need to pull a 150 pair cable into your building and you don't have the conduit for it. So we need to hire a specialist to drill under the street and into your basement. After we get permits and all associated data, I'm sure it will take 3 months and cost you a gazillion dollars. Oh, and we will put an unreachable, nitwit of an engineer in charge of the project just to make you mad because we're telco and we just enjoy pi$$ing off people that spend huge amounts of money with us."

Upper Management: "How much? Who's idea was this?"

IT: "Not ours, management requested it and we repeatedly suggested lower cost, reliable alternatives. Here's our time stamped document to prove it."

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Most of our faxes

by The Scummy One In reply to Is there a place for fax ...

have been replaced by MFP printers. However, we still have a few dedicated ones, only because it would cost too much to throw an MFP there.
Until recently we had fax machines with 2 lines in them, now we have the lines redirected to one line for receiving.

Aside from that, we can fax from email as well, and scan with the MFP's or Digital Senders.

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Yep, still got'em

by NickNielsen In reply to Is there a place for fax ...

Every one of the pharmacies I support has a fax machine (well, an MFP, but the primary use is for fax). These faxes are usually used to:
- transmit prescription information to non-affiliated pharmacies
- transmit refill requests to prescribers
- receive prescriptions from prescribers.

They won't be going away any time soon. Why? Several reasons, in no particular order.

1. Reliability. Say what you will, but under most circumstances, as long as you can get a dial tone, you can send a fax.

2. Cost. As Forum Surfer points out, there are HIPAA-compliant solutions, but at the enterprise level, and even at the office level, I suspect they aren't cheap. Or if they are, they aren't "easy" (i.e. can't be installed by the typical Windows tech).

3. Legacy support. The majority of doctor's offices I've been in recently are minimally automated. In many smaller offices, the newest technology is the fax.

4. Compatibility. The pharmacies I support use an electronic pharmacy system; most chain pharmacies do. But those systems don't talk to each other, nor do they talk to prescription systems used in medical offices. But everybody has a fax.

Face it, Palmetto. The fax will still be around for another decade or so.

edit: Oh, and I fax my expense receipts to an automated electronic device for review and storage. I've tried scanning them in and sending them via on-line fax, but for some reason, the system barfs on it.

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The furture of fax

by serena46 In reply to Is there a place for fax ...

Good question. While the demise of fax machines may be imminent thanks to digital fax delivery, there is still the need to sign documents and transmit securely over a fax line. Certain technologies such as <a href="http://www.biscom.com">fax servers</a> and <a href="http://www.biscom.com/products_solutions/email_solutions.htm">fax-to-email</a> have slowly started to replace the standard fax machine, but I think as of today, most offices have at least 1 standard fax machine and I can't see that going away any time soon.

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Is that spam on your breath?

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The furture of fax

There is NO need to sign documents. Ever heard of an e-signature? There are plenty of cheap / free technologies that will allow the secure insertion of a signature into an electronic file or document.

Shill your obsolete technology on someone else's discussion.

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