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Why Faxing is Still Relevant in the 21st Century

By Darin McGinnes

Why would a communication technology that was conceived in the 19th Century and perfected in the 20th Century, still be important today in the 21st Century? The simple answer: faxing is a guaranteed delivery technology that email has yet to achieve. For those of us who work in the industry, this might be stating the obvious. But for the uninitiated, most believe faxing is practically dead, after all aren’t we in the Information Age? My answer: not so fast, as faxing is still alive and well!

Don’t get me wrong, email is a wonderful, convenient, and easy to use technology that for many businesses that relied on faxing in the past, do not need to use it as much anymore. But if you’re in an industry such as medical, finance, legal, or construction, you know that email isn’t good enough when it comes to delivering or receiving important, time sensitive or legal documents. In this respect, one may wonder why faxing is superior to email. It all comes down to the fact that a fax is considered a legal document because the transaction can be confirmed while email cannot.

Let’s look at how a fax is transmitted vs. email.  Email is built upon technology from the internet. It uses packet switch technology, which means it’s unreliable. Not that it’s ineffective, but the sender never knows for sure if the other side received the email as it is sent best effort only. Worse yet, it also could be easily intercepted by unscrupulous types. Faxing, on the other hand, is built upon technology from the tried and true public switched telephone network, the oldest communications network in the world. It uses circuit switch technology, which means that it’s reliable; both parties will know if the fax was sent successfully or not. Also, intercepting a fax transmission is much more difficult. And for those of you who are thinking: what about VOIP? Well, all that’s about is emulating a point-to-point circuit switched phone conversation over the packet switched internet. Circuit switched reliability is still intact.

One may ask if there is a better way to fax. After all, using traditional fax machines can be an unwieldy, inefficient process. Not to mention the difficult, time consuming process of integrating with business applications such as ERP, CRM, or document management systems. My answer to you is the fax server.

Either with an enterprise software solution like Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition or an appliance solution like Open Text Fax Appliance, FaxPress Edition, a fax server shields the inefficiency of sending or receiving faxes from the end user. It allows users to conveniently send and receive faxes from the desktop or leverage existing multifunction printers or scanners to send hard copy faxes. Furthermore fax servers seamlessly integrate with back office business applications that allow customers to realize a true paperless office, bringing the clunky fax into the 21st century of technology and convenience.

To learn more, download one of our free whitepapers:

Implementing Fax over IP in your Organization

Network Faxing with Open Text Fax Appliance, FaxPress Edition 

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India’s Largest Airport works with Open Text to Modernize Fax Processes

Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) is a joint venture company that manages the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). With four terminals, and spreading over an operational area of 1450 acres, it is not only India’s largest airport, but that of all South Asia! Based on number of flights, Official Airline Guide (OAG) ranked it the seventh busiest airport in the world. With its overwhelming size and flight count, one can only imagine how hectic it is to keep things running smoothly and orderly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Being such a busy location, CSIA heavily relied on almost 50 fax machines due to the importance of communication within the airport and to external connections. It was too risky exposing high security documents in such a public location to fax them out. Not only was the wait to use a machine extremely inefficient, but wait time for someone to come to repair a broken fax machine and the financial resources used to maintain them made having multiple machines very costly.

Thanks to Open Text’s Fax Server, RightFax Edition, CSIA employees can send faxes electronically from any Microsoft application without even having to leave their workstations. For signatures, they’re scanned and stored, and when sent, a delivery notification is sent to the signing party as a notification. For those on the go, faxes can even be sent or received straight to a mobile device anytime, anywhere. Even on one of CSIA’s flights!

MIAL did look at other options, although some did not provide support in India and others could not meet the user capacity needed for such a large user interface of 1000 users!

After acquiring Open Text’s solution, Mumbai International Airport Limited was able to eliminate avoidable costs, reduce manual processes from minutes to seconds, eliminate almost all fax machines, and increase confidence in communication security. There is no longer the need to rely on the office for faxes they can be easily conducted from anywhere, really. What used to be a security concerned documents are now confidential. What used to be expenses are cost saving benefits. What used to be an inconvenience is now more convenient than ever.

The full case study is in pdf format published here.

Configuring Microsoft Exchange 2010 UM for Inbound Faxing

Feature Pack 1 of the Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition v9.4, delivers interoperability with Microsoft Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging (UM). The new UM settings allow for inbound faxes to be referred to the Fax Server instead of being processed only through Exchange 2010 UM. Faxes are now handled by a fax server but still processed where end users are typically used to receiving faxes in Outlook with Exchange 2007 UM.

The problem is that with this new technology comes the scary question that comes to mind for anyone who is going to have to implement this and is not familiar with Unified Messaging in Exchange, “Do I really have to time to install Exchange 2010 and then study how the Unified Messaging piece works just to setup inbound faxing”?  Rather than you spending days installing and reading about UM concepts, we created two videos that should pretty much get you up to speed (assuming you have about 20 minutes).

Configuring Exchange 2010 UM for Inbound Faxing – Part 1:

  • How to configure Exchange 2010 to listen for CNG fax tones
  • Setup a UM Dial Plan
  • Setup a UM IP Gateway
  • Setup a UM MailBox Policy.

Configuring Exchange 2010 UM for Inbound Faxing – Part 2:

  • How to create a Receive Connector (for security)
  • Configure the Open Text Fax Server
  • Configure a AudioCodes MP-114 (media gateway)
  • Send a test to see it work

We also have a new white paper on faxing with Exchange Server 2010 UM.   Download here.

Ricoh to Offer Open Text’s Document Server, Alchemy Edition Solution, Targeting Healthcare Customers

Enterprise Content Management Software to Augment Business Processes and Compliance Initiatives for the Healthcare Market

West Caldwell, NJ, January 6, 2010 Ricoh Americas Corporation, a leading provider of digital office equipment, today announced that it will resell Open Text’s Document Server, Alchemy Edition[1], to the Ricoh channel through the Ricoh Independent Solutions Vendor Program (RiSVP).  Open Text Document Server, Alchemy Edition is a document management software solution that enables organizations to capture, store and manage business critical documents.  By combining the flexibility of distributed capture with the security of centralized document management, organizations such as those within healthcare benefit through improved document delivery and compliance support from an end-to-end on premise solution that provides a structured home for documents throughout their entire lifecycle.

“We are excited by the continued expansion of our partnership with Ricoh as it provides great value and benefits to Ricoh’s healthcare customers. Now, with Open Text Document Server, Ricoh customers have access to a high value and cost effective document imaging and archiving solution,” said Matthew Brine, vice president of Fax and Document Distribution solutions at Open Text.

Document Server enables its users to gain increasing value from their Ricoh multifunction product (MFP) investment by harnessing the flexibility of a distributed document capture model in the workplace combined with a centralized, secure and auditable document repository.  This solution operates alongside users’ existing work environment, allowing them to work with Document Server using the tools and applications with which they are most familiar.   Document Server offers seamless integration with Windows Explorer enabling users to access documents through a simple drive letter. Microsoft Office users can work with documents stored in Document Server without leaving Word, PowerPoint, Excel or any of their other desktop productivity tools. Remote users simply need access to Internet Explorer and power users can take advantage of extended capabilities found in the Document Server desktop clients. 

“Together with Open Text, we are committed to providing healthcare customers with best-in-class document management solutions that enhance their core business processes,” said Joyce Ouellette, director, solution marketing, Ricoh Americas Corporation. “With our scalable and robust solutions, healthcare customers will quickly realize productivity gains as well as comply with regulatory requirements within their business environment.”

Ricoh recognized the MFP would become the focal point of all business equipment and blazed a path to provide an open architecture platform to expand the products usefulness.  Through our patented “Embedded Software Architecture” (ESA), developers have utilized the most extensive tool offering in the industry to create unique solutions, which have far exceeded customer expectations.  Developers enjoy a wide range of individualized support options that have allowed them to reduce development costs by speeding up the development process.  Customers have benefited from ESA through productivity increases and the use of existing technology to solve the ever-changing myriad of business challenges.  Ricoh’s MFP’s running ESA have evolved from merely printing, scanning and faxing to providing end users with the profound realization they have truly purchased a full service business center.

About Open Text

Open Text, an enterprise software company and leader in enterprise content management, helps organizations manage and gain the true value of their business content. Open Text brings two decades of expertise supporting 50 million users in 114 countries. Working with our customers and partners, we bring together leading Content Experts to help organizations capture and preserve corporate memory, increase brand equity, automate processes, mitigate risk, manage compliance and improve competitiveness. For more information, visit http://faxsolutions.opentext.com or  www.opentext.com

 

About Ricoh Independent Solutions Vendor Program

One of three Ricoh Alliance programs, RiSVP, developed in cooperation with Ricoh solution partners and Ricoh’s direct and dealer channels, focuses on two key areas: expansion of channel marketing opportunities for RiSVP members and simplifying solution access for Ricoh sales channels. By providing RiSVP member products directly from Ricoh, the direct and dealer channels have more opportunities for new revenue growth combined and simplified sales operations. In turn, RiSVP members enjoy faster and greater financial return on the investments they have made in developing solutions that when combined with Ricoh’s award-winning product portfolio address customers’ key concerns. For more information, visit www.ricohalliances.com.

About Ricoh Americas Corporation 

Ricoh Americas Corporation, headquartered in West Caldwell, N.J., is a subsidiary of Ricoh Company Ltd., the 73-year-old leading supplier of office automation equipment and electronics, with fiscal year 2008 sales in excess of $20 billion.

Ricoh Americas Corporation is a leading provider of document solutions. Ricoh’s fully integrated hardware and software products help businesses share information efficiently and effectively by enabling customers to control the input, management and output of documents.

Ricoh Americas Corporation directly or through its network of authorized dealers markets and distributes products in North, Central and South America.

 

All referenced product names are the trademarks of their respective companies.

 [1]  Open Text’s acclaimed Enterprise Content Management Solutions, including Document Server, have been positioned in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner 2009 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, based on the company’s ability to execute and its completeness of vision.

Inbound Faxing in Microsoft Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging

There is a big change in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging (UM) that opens an opportunity for the Open Text Fax Server to help. With the Exchange 2007 UM, there was an option for sending inbound faxes to Outlook clients. In Exchange 2010 UM, the internal feature for inbound faxing was discontinued but an option to redirect fax calls to third-party vendors to provide the capability was added. Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition is able to provide that server for Exchange 2010 UM as of Feature Pack 1.

We have developed a brief video presentation to explain this.

Exchange Server 2007 UM provided an option for inbound faxing but did not provide options for outbound faxing. With Exchange 2010 UM, there is not a built-in option for either inbound or outbound faxing but there is an option to configure the server to redirect fax traffic to the Open Text Fax Server.  The Open Text Fax Server Exchange Connector has been available for inbound and outbound faxing in both Exchange 2007 and 2010 but this does not work within the Unified Messaging roles.

Microsoft published a case study on how Open Text developed this integration and it is available here.

We have a new white paper on Inbound Faxing with Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging.  Download here.

Open Text Partner Avanquest Solutions Discusses the Value of FoIP

This article originally appeared on the Enterprise Fax over IP channel on TMCnet.
As more companies are building or expanding their IP infrastructures, the benefits of consolidation with enterprise fax over IP are becoming evident as many organizations have already invested in VoIP technology as an alternative to traditional phone communications. In a recent interview with Avanquest Solutions, Mike Rae, sales director of the U.K.-based firm, discusses some of the advantages of adopting fax over IP.
 
“Using this existing IP resource to also transmit all your fax communications delivers an even greater return on this investment. Many of the costs associated with traditional fax machines such as hardware maintenance, consumables and phone line rental disappear,” Rae said. “Analog routers that are required in order to connect fax machines to your VoIP environment can also be removed creating even greater savings. Customers with multiple sites have the greatest opportunity to save money due to the fact that a centralised fax server can now manage faxing across the whole enterprise without the need for additional telephony provision at local sites.”
 
Avanquest Solutions has been the U.K. distributor and support and training center for Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition since 1992.
 
With fax over IP, the entire solution is software-based which means it can be implemented in a virtual environment which reduced the number of physical servers required and provides high-availability and disaster recovery, Rae explained.
 
There are several efficiencies that are achieved with Open Text Fax Server, Right Fax Edition. According to Rae, fax is still the most reliable and secure point to point document delivery solution there is. 
 
“Electronic faxing dramatically reduces costs, reduces paper and speeds up business processes by allowing users to send faxes from any application in under a minute. Staff no longer has to print out documents they want to fax, wait by the fax machine while it transmits and rely on a paper-based delivery report. The whole process is replicated electronically,” Rae said. “Fax servers enhance your unified communications infrastructure by delivering inbound faxes directly into the user’s personal inbox which means faxes can be retrieved from any location, with any device, improving response times to customers and saving time.”
 
The process of sending paper documents through OpenText Fax Server is easy, too, he said. By integrating with multi-functional devices, users can login to the device, select the fax option and enter recipient’s number just as they have always done. The document is transmitted by Open Text Fax Server through their personal account, delivery notification is sent to their email address and the fax and transmission history are stored electronically.
 
“This is all achieved over your IP network. There is no need to install a fax modem on the multi-function device or connect it to an analogue phone line,” Rae added.
 
OpenText Fax Server can also act as a fax gateway allowing almost any application to automate outbound faxing and e-mail delivery replacing the manual process of printing and posting batches of documents. Thousands of customers rely on the system to deliver trade confirmations, monetary payment confirmations, purchase orders, remittances and many more critical business documents, Rae said.
 
Since inbound faxes often trigger business processes, Open Text Fax Server can act as the on-ramp into your organization. Documents such as purchase orders and transfer requests can be handed to an intelligent capture application where they can be classified so that the relevant data can be extracted and verified before being automatically uploaded into a line of business application saving time and money and reducing data-entry errors.
 
In addition, enterprise fax over IP helps companies in terms of regulatory compliance by providing a degree of visibility and control over your fax traffic, which is difficult to ascertain with traditional methods of faxing. Open Text Fax Server stores a full electronic audit trail for each document which can be passed to billing systems and document management applications for cost-tracking and compliance purposes.
 
“Many industry regulators such as the Financial Services Authority deem fax machines insecure and non-compliant because they automatically print out received documents with no way of determining the recipient or what they did with that document next,” Rae said. “A fax server allows you to see exactly who printed, annotated or viewed the document and at what date and time.”
 
According to Rae, moving to FOIP greatly improves the business case for VoIP.
 
“The consolidation of data and communications to a single IP resource reduces the total cost of ownership – one bandwidth for all voice, data and fax communications,” he said. “Switching from traditional fax to FoIP allows you to centrally host faxing for multiple locations. Fax can be integrated with other applications throughout the organization as part of automated business processes and workflow.”

Learn From The Top

Yesterday the Associated Press reported on some twenty two million e-mails that had been lost by the White House during the Bush administration and, part of the Obama administration. The article can be found at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34419592/ns/politics

Issues relating to e-mail archival reportedly go back several years with Microsoft being called in at some point in 2003 to help with the recovery. The issue became publicly known in 2006 as part of the investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The report suggests that the White House was aware of the need for an appropriate records keeping system but for whatever reason chose to do nothing.

It would be extremely easy to castigate the White House for their failings surrounding their records keeping but how many other organizations are in the same boat today? Let’s also consider the larger matter of “information management”.  This article is focusing on a case relating to e-mail archival.  The reality is that e-mail is just one form of communication and documentation that needs to be brought under control.  How quickly can most companies produce  faxes, scanned documents, word processing files, spreadsheets, presentations, computer generated reports or a litany of other document types should they be mandated to do so?

There are several lessons we can learn for a story like this. The first is that anyone can find themselves in a situation where not being able to produce information can be potentially fatal to their operation. This matter is not solely the preserve of public companies.  Whether it’s an IRS auditor or, a discovery request from the legal counsel of an ex-employee, customer, partner or vendor, saying “sorry, can’t find them” rarely provides the fast track to a positive outcome. 

The second lesson is, don’t wait! Ask anyone who has adopted a formal document/e-mail/records management strategy and they will tell you how much extra effort is involved in getting the historical “back file” data into the repository.  Your back file may consist of boxes in a warehouse, folders that live on the floors of offices throughout the building or “that place where Diane takes the old files”. If you have a substantial back file, decide on how you are going to incorporate those records into the solution or, define a process for working with them outside of the system. Avoid a situation where information access is a breeze – providing you are looking for records created after 2008.

Lastly, consider the ramifications of doing nothing.  Doing nothing is the largest competitor to any software sale and the silent enemy of the end-user.  What would the grand total come to for lost business, reputation damage, legal fees, court fines and, settlements? You may not be the White House but your house is the most important house.  Spend the time to understand what controls you have in place to effectively archive and protect the information that runs your business.

We have published a new streamline guide related to document repository issues.  You can download it here for free.

Written by Darren Boynton with Open Text’s Fax & Document Distribution Group.


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