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2006
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The evolution of the fax

Despite the advent of email and the Internet, the fax machine and fax technology have not disappeared. In the United States five-billion faxes are being sent annually and over 90% of companies are using fax as an important channel for critical business communication. According to Worldwide Computer-Based Market Analysis and Forecast, faxing will remain a major form of document distribution until 2020. While the fax is not dead, fax capabilities have evolved over the years, offering increasingly higher levels of functionality. Today, fax solutions range from entry level inkjet fax machines to fax servers for e-document delivery.

Konica Minolta Professional Services (KMPS) product manager, Mohammed Vachiat, says what has transpired is a marriage of technologies, with faxes being transmitted from PCs through fax servers or from fax machines to the recipient’s email inbox. “It is not a case of fax versus email, but rather a case of fax and email working together for optimal results. Business has recognised the advantages of combining the strengths of the two technologies and our division offers customers solutions that best fit their profiles and needs, with the focus on reliability, price and security,” says Vachiat. For those users who work in a fully networked environment, LAN/Internet faxing allows faxes to be sent from a PC via the LAN or an email server. The fax is sent from PC to PC, and allows recipients to receive faxes on their desktops without walking to a fax machine.

Vachiat says companies with more than 25 employees sending faxes can benefit from fax server technology. “An investment in a fax server solution not only offers intangible benefits like improved customer service and faster turn around on queries, it also provides tangible cost savings in terms of employee productivity, print costs and phone bills,” he says. Research has shown that it takes an average of seven minutes to collect a document from the printer, walk to the fax machine, fax it and return to one’s desk. Electronic faxing is an instant send, from the desktop, with no interruption to user productivity. Documents are generated and sent on the desktop, eliminating the need to print them out prior to transmitting them via a fax machine. Because faxes are also received on the desktop, print cost savings are further enhanced. Those faxes that need to be printed can be printed on laser technology, which is cheaper than printing faxes on a fax machine. In addition, fax servers boast a number of features that save on dial up time.
Scheduled faxing, sending multiple faxes to the same fax number in one dial up and reduced negotiation and confirmation times can reduce phone bills by between 25% and 40%. Commenting on the fax to email service (0866 number), Vachiat says the service is only suitable for home and small business use. “0866 is a billing mechanism, not a technology. What users don’t realise is that sending a fax might be at a premium rate, but the person on the receiving end of the fax will be paying about R2,78 per fax. Vachiat says Minolta makes recommendations to its clients based on the right mix of fax, email and web technologies. “We strive to deliver an e-document delivery solution that best fits the changing needs of each particular client,” he says.

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