Bringing fax back in from the cold

By Mark Howarth

The fax number may have disappeared off most business cards these days but fax technology is still a vital part of many essential business processes in 2014. The question for organisations today is whether they have optimised document automation and information capture for fax in their business processes.

Fax communication is still essential in many vital business functions, whether it’s sales order processing, trade settlement processing, online customer service and accounts receivable processing.

Banks and financial institutions rely on fax for its status as a point to point communications channel with the ability to provide audit history and proof of delivery.

In manufacturing fax is widely used in procurement, producing purchase orders from SAP or Oracle, as well as supply chain and logistics.

Many small businesses are comfortable with receiving data from business partners or customers via fax.

So while we have embraced the cloud, email, scanning, and a whole host of e-commerce technologies, there are still millions of faxes being sent and received globally which contain critical information for conducting business. Each and every day millions of messages are generated by businesses as they interact with customers, suppliers and other organisations. Fax, alongside Email, SMS and Voice are ubiquitous and universally accepted messaging solutions. 

However in today’s fast-paced, wired and wireless world, have these messaging solutions been optimised for the business process and consumer they serve? For example, how many communications are generated in an organisation’s procurement process? Is the generation of these communications automated and efficient, or are they semi manual and ad-hoc?

Has fax in particular kept pace with the development of IT&T trends such as Cloud and Mobility? 

Organisations are moving to IP fax technology in the Cloud or On-Premise, and architecting resilient and scalable solutions  integrated with back office systems that deliver process automation and lowest possible cost of ownership.

Fax in the cloud?

The question of ‘cloud’ or ‘on-premise’ is high on that checklist for IT departments nowadays. In the case of fax automation the cost analysis is relatively straightforward.

Criteria – Fax Automation



IT infrastructure needed



Out of the Box integration with Corporate Applications (ERP, CRM, Mail)


Typically limited

License procurement



Cost per fax sent



Cost per fax received



Cost of number rental



Ongoing annual costs such as software maintenance or service fee




However what also needs to be taken into account is the cost and complexity of change management, and this may not be so straightforward to calculate.

There are two significant components to this:

  1. integrations with corporate applications and
  2. fax number management. The flexibility to pull fax numbers from telephony number ranges is often limited so new numbers need to be procured and existing numbers redirected. This can be a time consuming, difficult and costly exercise.

I suggest that these hidden costs must be closely examined in developing the business case for change.

Best of Breed Fax

What should be included in the checklist when analysing a “best of breed” fax solution?

There are a number of elements included in analysing any IT solution, such as product maturity, ease of use, interoperability and security and scalability.

Another key consideration is whether this is a ‘point solution’ or ‘enterprise solution’. A point solution strategy may see an organisation using multiple SMS providers, on-premise fax solutions from multiple vendors and a cloud provider here and there. This can lead to cost and complexity for an organisation in terms of upkeep, management and efficiency.

A best of breed cloud messaging solution is likely to include SMS, Mail, Voice and Fax as available communication channels. The platform will have an excellent API in order to automate messaging from back office systems whilst providing capability for line of business users to import contact lists, define message templates and effectively self-serve.

Easylink - The cloud solution

EasyLink is a 100% cloud based solution.  It gives time-critical, business-critical, Voice, SMS, Email and Fax messaging from a single platform.  The EasyLink production messaging solution automates the creation and delivery of outbound transactions which originate in back-office systems.  It’s ideal for trade confirmations, letters of credit, customer statements and other high-volume communications.

RightFax - The Premise IP Fax Server

RightFax provides a multitude of options to capture and route inbound documents when they enter the enterprise. The options consist of XML, Bar Code, Integration and Fax Archive Modules. By utilising these tools you can connect and integrate with Imaging, Workflow and Archive systems.

RightFax provides companies with a centralised infrastructure for mission critical document delivery by integrating with email, desktop, CRM, ERP, document management, imaging, archival, call centre, MFP systems, as well as host, legacy and mainframe applications.

Today, there are three key considerations for an on-premise fax solution.

1. Virtualisation – If your fax server isn’t virtualised it needs to be. This is an opportunity to consolidate infrastructure, increase high availability and hopefully reduce IT&T costs

2. IP Fax - Fax over IP is an opportunity to integrate and leverage IP Voice systems. It is an opportunity to remove telecommunications infrastructure and leverage Call Management applications.

3. Integrations - With a host of certified integrations RightFax provides a rich history of document automation from back end systems and MFP devices.

As the market leader in outbound document automation, RightFax tightly integrates and is strategically aligned with other market leading applications including Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. Having purpose built modules for SAP r3, Oracle 11i and Exchange 2013.

Also, any current users of MESSAGEmanager fax server should consider the end of life for new customers announced post the OpenText acquisition on 9th December, 2013.

As such, organisations using MESSAGEmanager may need to start considering their future product direction and options. Two of these options being to replace with RightFax or to implement the Easylink cloud based messaging solution.


Mark Howarth is Managing Director of Axient, a leading Value Added Reseller of enterprise messaging and digital transaction solutions.