Seriously? Does Anyone Really Fax Anymore?
Well, according to the latest market research, the answer is a resounding YES! Even though they won’t admit it in public, that facts are that most business, government, academic and non-profit organizations still rely on fax in one way or another.
And counterintuitive to what you might have thought, fax usage in many industries is going up, not down. But don’t just take my word for it. Just look at what the latest research from the International Data Group (IDC) found out. In a recently released paper titled “Fax Market Pulse: Trends, Growth, and Opportunities,” IDC reported that 82% of survey respondents said that fax usage increased over the past year, while only 19% said usage went down. Here are some of the highlights that provide more insight to what is going on.
IDC: Fax is Growing, Not Slowing
• For companies where fax was growing, it grew a lot, rising 27% over the previous year.
• Fax growth companies expected it to continue growing by another 25% over the next two years.
• Simplifying fax processes, making it more accessible, drive fax usage volume up
• Organizations continue to fax because customers and suppliers use fax
• Fax is a trusted method of secure information exchange
• During the next two years, fax usage will shift to cloud services
• 90% of users have already integrated or are evaluating integrating fax with other technologies or applications like email, or ERP, CRM and EHR systems.
IDC, which looks mainly at larger businesses ranging from $100 million in revenues to over $1 billion, also parsed the data for four major industry vertical markets– Government, Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and calculated the net fax usage growth in those industries.
They found that fax usage was growing by 9% overall, led by Manufacturing, where fax was growing by 16%, although the average was dragged down by government (naturally) which showed only 3% growth, over the previous year. Here are the complete results for the four verticals.
Spiceworks: User Survey Shows Most Still Use Fax
Meanwhile, the website Spiceworks, which claims a membership of over 500,000 Information Technology professionals, has also tackled the thorny issues surrounding fax which often bedevil their users.
According to a 2017 Spiceworks poll, approximately 89% of small to medium sized organizations still use fax in some form (including computer fax servers and fax services), and 62% of IT pros still support physical fax machines.
How Small & Medium Business Use Fax
So now we know how people fax and by how much, but that begs the question of why exactly has this ancient technology stuck around for so long? Thanks to a series of lively discussions by the IT pros in Spiceworks in reaction to this survey, we can now understand why so many organizations just can’t let it go. Here are the top ten reasons given for fax longevity.
IT pros share 10 reasons why fax refuses to die
1. Older users are just used to physical fax machines
“We will be using a physical fax machine for some years to come yet, mainly because the powers that be at our organization are well past retirement age and most of our volunteers are as well. They are more comfortable with older technology.
2. Customers still use fax, so businesses have to as well
“We support an insurance company that has a fax server and e-fax services, solely because many of their customers still use fax themselves instead of email.”
3. Government standards allow and encourage faxing
“There is a belief in healthcare that HIPAA considers faxing a secure method while email is not secure. So you can either go through a painful process of setting up end-to-end email encryption, or use a fax. Also, the FBI CJIS standards allow transmitting of Criminal Justice Information via fax but not via email, unless the email is encrypted end-to-end.”
4. Fax provides a paper trail thanks to transaction reports and call logs for legal discovery.
“The reason why people use fax, they are protected by wiretapping laws for one. They also hold up well under court scrutiny. Can you prove that a fax was sent from business A to business B? Sure. Got fax logs for both ends, and can subpoena both of their phone companies and get call logs to back it up.
5. Many believe fax is more secure than email and immune to malware and ransomware
“A person cannot read a fax as plain text like they can email packets. It would require a decoding device and access to the beginning of the analog stream. A person must gain physical access to either endpoint, or the lines in between them, to be able to intercept a fax. Faxes from a standalone machine to another standalone machine cannot be breached from a hacker working out of his mother’s basement, in Eastern Europe.”
6. Fax is cheap compared to expensive alternatives like secure email
“We’re in a medical office here, we use fax machines, fax servers, and e-fax. It’s compliant and cost-effective. Secure email is expensive and cumbersome for referring practices and patients, and EHR secure messaging or texting is not legal for orders.”
7. There is no other choice due to regulations
“We are in the Canadian health industry and have no choice but to use fax … We are processing 10,000+ pages of fax every week … all because we have no choice and the government is decades behind on regulations.”
8. Fax is convenient: It can scan, copy, and send from a dedicated device
“The process to send an outgoing fax without a fax machine is cumbersome. Scan the document on the copier, go back to your desk and find the scan, rename it, attach it to an email or print to a driver to start the process. That’s much more effort than physical faxing (slap it on the machine and pick a number from the address book).”
9. Fax can serve as a backup communication system
“The big banks still use the fax as the final transaction record for big, multi-million dollar fund moves. We just installed a new VoIP system, and I need to keep a couple of analog fax devices and phones running just in case the network goes down so the big transactions can still go through.
10. Many companies are resistant to change
“People just have a hard time letting go of a technology they’ve gotten comfortable with, especially when it doesn’t change for decades.”
Will fax ever go away?
Based on feedback from Spiceworks, fax won’t die anytime soon unless some big changes occur. For one thing, there are no faster, cheaper, and safer alternatives to fax in regulated industries, so they’ll likely stick around unless something clearly better comes along.
Fax Ascends to New Heights in the Cloud
And that something better is already here – on-line hosted fax in the Cloud, otherwise known as Cloud Faxing for short. Cloud faxing from providers like eFax Corporate provides the best of fax with the best of email – the ability to send/receive a totally secure communications to/from a recipients fax machine combined with the ease of use of desktop email.
It’s just that simple, and as the market research shows, the continued growth of ‘faxing’ is in part due to the ease of use provided by these new ‘electronic methods and integration of these new methods with company’s workflow processes and document management systems.
With an online fax solution, the entire fax process is handled via the web — whether through your company’s email, multifunction printer, workflow application, your staff’s mobile devices or through a secure web-portal.
Using any of these options, you will be able to develop the protocols, the permissions and the restrictions to ensure only those authorized personnel are ever able to view or download these confidential faxes, which puts your company in a much better position with regard to your industry’s data privacy regulators.
With eFax Corporate, for example, end users can send and receive faxes by email, through an online portal, from their mobile devices, multifunction printers, CRM, ERP and other productivity applications, and more. And the IT staff can even develop its own APIs to integrate eFax Corporate’s Fax API Developer product into in-house applications and workflow platforms like Salesforce and SAP.
To learn more about outsourcing to a cloud fax model with eFax Corporate, speak with a representative today.