The fax machine was one of the first uniform standards of electronic communication. These days we take formats like the CD and DVD for granted, but there was a time in the eighties and nineties when formats and standards came and went seemingly overnight. Remember Betamax and Digital Audio Tape? What about the VideoCD and the MiniDisc? At one stage they were all contenders for video or music delivery, but they failed because other companies had created rival and more popular formats.
But by 1980, faxes had a uniform standard of communication that allowed anyone with a phone line and a fax machine to exchange copies of documents anywhere in the world. After the telephone, faxes became the most important method of communication between businesses.
Now, faxing has made another advance, bringing it in line with contemporary standards of communication – now you can fax in the cloud.
The endless possibilities of the cloud
The cloud is a term for the emerging functions people are discovering on the internet. Where once computers needed to have programs installed in them for you to perform functions – creating spreadsheets, writing reports – programs can now be stored in the cloud and accessed via an internet connection. This means your computer doesn’t have to have the program installed on it, instead you subscribe to the program online.
How the cloud lets you fax without a phone line
And it’s not just programs, either. A PABX can be simulated in the cloud so that your calls can be answered and redirected without you installing an exchange in the office. Systems like this work by assigning a toll free number to your business. This is a virtual number, no phone line is installed. It works by aligning with your existing mobile or landline number.
In the same way, businesses can send a free fax via email without having to buy and install a fax machine or a fax line. A virtual fax number allows your emails to be converted into faxes – all you do is attach the document to an email, put the recipient’s fax number in the address line, and it will appear on the fax machine at the other end just as if you had faxed it from a machine. You can receive a fax through email too.
Business advantages of sending a fax online
As a business owner, you’ve probably dreamt of being able to be in two or three places at once. There are times when you are being asked to fax through a document to a bank or a client, and you are nowhere near a fax machine.
But if you have email-to-fax capability, you don’t need a fax machine. All you need is your laptop and an internet connection, and you can send faxes quickly and easily from home, or even out on the road. You can even use your smartphone.
Turn your smartphone into a pocket fax machine
Imagine you are at an airport and a client calls to say they want you to fax them a contract for immediate signing. You have the contract with you, but there’s no way to get to a fax machine in time. Your flight’s being called, the pressure is on! But if you have an app from a virtual fax service such as eFax on your phone, you can respond immediately. You use your phone’s camera to take a photo of the contract, then import it into the app. Add your electronic signature to make it official, attach it to an email addressed to the client’s fax number, and the deal is done.
It is amazing to think that a machine that used to take up an entire corner of the office can now be kept in your pocket and used wherever you have an internet connection. Cloud-based technology combined with email has reinvented the fax, and the result is a cheap, efficient way for businesses to connect.