As my exploration of VoIP’s hidden value continues, you might be surprised at the possibilities, and from there you may well start to wonder now about just how limiting legacy telephony is. A constant theme in this series is that you can easily justify VoIP on the basis of being a lower cost phone service with less expensive desk phones. Through that lens, VoIP only provides one form of everyday value where its utility is strictly a commodity and price is the primary consideration.
If that’s your thinking, there’s no point in reading further – unless you are even just a tiny bit willing to broaden your vision. After all, you’re only going to make the move to VoIP once, so you’d better be doing it for the right reasons. Your decision for getting everyday value from VoIP will be an easy one, as VoIP providers will readily share their pricing, and you can start counting the savings in hardly any time at all.
Hopefully, as you’ve been following these posts, you’ll know this is a terrible way to make a decision that can do so much more for your business than save money. You don’t need to have Nobel Prize thinking to totally reinvent how your business communicates – but it couldn’t hurt – but even utilizing a few aspects of VoIP’s hidden value can take you a long way forward.
Fax? Really? Still?
There are two basic ways to look at hidden value with VoIP. One is for how it enables you to do new things that could not be supported with legacy telephony, such as visual voicemail. By design, new implies better, and it’s clear to see how this capability improves the communications process on a few levels.
A second way to realize hidden value is by doing old things in new ways. Voice will always remain the preferred mode of real time communication, and VoIP brings value by enhancing the telephony experience, such as with HD audio or call recording.
Along the same lines, we now come to fax. This will not likely come to mind right away since we associate VoIP with voice and think of it primarily as a mode of telephony. These ideas are certainly correct, but the hidden value comes from VoIP being more than that.
As explained in earlier posts, VoIP is a data application, just like any other form of electronic, digital communication. Voice happens to be the way we experience VoIP, but your network only sees data packets, and treats all the packets the same whether being voice, video or text.
Fax is the analog cousin to legacy telephony, and has been with us for so long, we don’t even think about it. You may not have used fax in ages, and it truly has been a major casualty of the Internet age. Today we certainly have more efficient ways of sending documents, but believe it or not, fax persists. Fax has proven very resilient simply because it remains relevant for certain needs, and the technology has evolved to keep up with the times.
Analog fax migrated to digital fax a long time ago, and in that form, it remains a close cousin to the modern form of telephony you’re considering now, namely VoIP. Both operate with common technology, and just as voicemail shows up in your email inbox with VoIP, so too can fax documents. It’s easy to view fax as outdated technology, but the vast majority businesses still have fax capabilities, and many business cards still include a fax number.
The process of faxing may seem archaic, but the true value of digital fax comes from records management, and the ability to provide a complete “paper trail” of activity for faxed documents. Some businesses require this for compliance purposes, so digital fax definitely still has value.
You may well have forgotten about fax, but if your business is still paying for dedicated fax lines – just because it’s there – VoIP has a new storyline to consider. Since digital fax runs over the same IP connection as VoIP, you can consolidate fax lines and have just one VoIP line dedicated to fax. You might even find that tying fax to VoIP makes faxing so easy – and affordable – that employees will rediscover its virtues.
Regardless of how many branch offices you have, or how familiar employees are with fax, this is a great example of how VoIP can make something old new again. If the labor-intensive process of scanning and emailing documents is creating records management headaches, tying fax to VoIP should really resonate, and shows another aspect of how VoIP is both more than telephony and more than just cost savings.
To learn more about VoIP contact MCC’s Telecom Solutions Division today!