The fax machine is old technology. First built in the 1800s and popularised in the 1960s, it belongs to a bygone era. But if they aren’t around anymore, what replaced the fax machine?
Modern Day Fax Machines
Fax machines might be old technology, but they haven’t actually gone anywhere. Millions are still in use the world over. However, this is not necessarily a good thing. Fax machines present risks to data security and slow down workplace efficiency.
The Replacement for Fax Machines
Fax machines might not have all been replaced yet, but a substitute certainly exists and is ready to take over. Digital fax is the fax replacement your business needs. Optimised for the modern workplace, it is the next step in the evolution of the fax.
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Has the Fax Machine Actually Gone Anywhere?
The short answer is no.
Is fax still used? Yes, and in high quantities. The fax machine hasn’t left us, far from it. Seventeen billion fax documents are sent every single year. Surveys suggest there are over 43 million fax machine units still in operation around the globe. That’s not all — millions more sell every year. The fax machine market isn’t dying.
Of course, sales figures are not as high as they were when the fax was considered one of the primary methods of business communication. Countless more units were routinely used from the 60s to the 90s, but that doesn’t mean the fax machine has been replaced. As other technology has arisen, fax machine use has fallen, but it’s still very much prevalent within the commercial world.
Does the Fax Machine Need Replacing?
So the fax machine hasn’t been replaced, but should it be? Again, the answer can be summed up in one word:
Fax machines are not technology suited for the 21st-century. Businesses that continue to use an actual fax machine face several problems that have a detrimental impact on successful operation, including:
- A reliance on landline connectivity, which will soon be obsolete as part of the ISDN switch off
- Increased risk of data protection disasters due to outdated technology lacking the necessary safeguards for modern businesses
- Reduced productivity thanks to the slow and inflexible way fax machines operate
- High communication costs, including fees related to fax machine purchase, maintenance and resources like ink, paper and toner
- The inability to adopt paperless working practices that promote environmentally-friendly work culture.
However, while the traditional fax machine is tired old technology that doesn’t belong in your small business, that doesn’t mean the fax should be written off too.
Fax documents can be incredibly useful. In terms of legality, they are considered more authentic than other methods of sharing files, such as email. Fax also makes it very easy to directly send somebody a visual document, which can be very important in some industries.
That idea brings us to another point. Fax is so useful in some industries that it remains one of the most commonly used methods of communication. In healthcare, for example, fax is essential. If you can’t fax, you cannot properly communicate in such industries, which can limit your ability to reach clients and customers.
And it’s not just specific industries where fax use is high.
Some countries, including influential economies like Japan and the USA, maintain very high use of fax machines. When breaking into international markets, having the ability to fax can be essential, as, without the platform, you may not be able to cover comprehensive communication channels. It’s not a secret that effective communication is key to business success, which means having the ability to fax is imperative for all businesses on some level.
If fax machines are bad, but fax is good, what does that mean for faxing? It means while the fax machine hasn’t yet been completely replaced, it needs to be, but not by a different form of tech like email. Instead, it needs to be replaced by a technology that enables fax without the disadvantages of a fax machine.
Luckily, this technology does exist.
What Replaced the Fax Machine? An Introduction to Digital Faxing
Digital fax services are the replacement for fax machines that your business needs. Designed for the modern workplace, digital fax ticks all the necessary boxes when it comes to functionality and practicality.
Digital fax is essentially software that turns your smartphone or computer into a fax machine. You can capture files using external cameras or transmit documents already in a digital format. Digital fax can be submitted to others using digital fax or an email address as it is sent via the internet rather than an analogue line. It can even be sent via old-fashioned fax machines, as automated technology converts digital files into formats fax machines can decipher. This automation means it is also possible for your digital fax system to receive a fax from a traditional fax machine as well. Digital fax is a fully-functional replacement for the fax machine that ensures total fax coverage.
Digital fax might offer your business the ability to fax, but so does a traditional fax machine. However, the real benefits of the platform come from the practicalities of the technology. Digital fax is much more secure than physical fax, due to the addition of modern security protocols like encrypted communication transmission and document access control. And — being digital — it doesn’t require the same resources a fax machine does, like ink, toner and maintenance costs, which can save businesses a lot of money long term. There is also the aspect of flexibility and adaptability to consider. Digital fax is cloud-based technology available on smartphones and computers, which means it is accessible anywhere, unlike a fixed-pointed physical machine. These are just a few of the many ways digital fax improves upon the practicalities of old-fashioned fax. To find out all the benefits, be sure to read our features page!