The enduring appeal of fax
Why it refuses to go away
As different forms of business to business communication have come and gone over the years, there is one which refuses to go away. In fact, for many industry sectors, it continues to be an essential channel of communication.
Time and time again, we’ve read articles predicting its final demise.
Yet fax continues to hold its own, surviving and thriving in certain sectors where other forms of communication don’t provide the same level of simplicity, proof of delivery or, in some cases, levels of security.
Anecdotal evidence from Japan is that faxing is still very common, and that virtually every office and workplace is equipped with the ability to send and receive faxes. Faxing is still in use for everyday communications such as replying to party invitations.
We should add at this point that Japan is a special case, with a complex alphabet which makes hand writing messages preferable on many occasions. Perhaps there is even a cultural attachment to the personal aspect of sending a fax, but even so, evidence of the enduring qualities of fax comes from around the world.
A 2017 survey of German companies with at least 20 employees found that:
- 70% of respondents said they sent fax messages ‘often’ or ‘very often’
- Amongst businesses with less than 50 employees, this figure rose to 77%
The message is clear – if you want to do business with Germany or Japan, you need to include fax in your mix of communications channels.
Yet this phenomenon is not confined to just these countries. A 2017 IDC (International Data Corporation) survey of senior decision makers in financial services, healthcare, government and manufacturing, across North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific, found that the use of faxes was actually on the rise.
- 82% of respondents had seen their use of faxes rise or stay the same compared with the previous year
- The volume of faxes being sent had risen by 27%
- Across the 3 regions, the average predicted growth in fax volume over the next 2 years was 25%
Whilst it might be assumed that the healthcare and legal sectors make more use of faxes due to the paper trail they leave, the projected growth was spread across all sectors:
- Finance – 20%
- Healthcare – 25%
- Government – 27%
- Manufacturing – 29%
Other reasons for the ongoing global appeal of faxing are varied:
Sectors such as healthcare, legal, finance and government demand high levels of data and communications compliance, for example in maintaining a clear paper trail for certain processes and transactions.
Many jurisdictions only accept signatures on faxed documents as being legally binding, and the fact that sending a fax produces an instant acknowledgement and record of receipt, contributes to the sense of reliability as a communications medium.
The simplicity of faxing is also an advantage in sectors such as manufacturing, when getting the right documents signed by the right people in a hurry is frequently advantageous.
Many businesses still rely on keeping individual copies of receipts, invoices and contracts, and faxing is still the simplest means of ensuring that papers such as these go to exactly the right person, without being lost amongst the avalanche of emails received on a daily basis.
Across all sectors, the security offered by faxing can be a huge advantage.
Faxes can’t be tampered with once sent; nor can they carry a hidden virus.
This advantage was underlined when Sony Pictures suffered an embarrassing cyber-attack in 2014, during which thousands of private emails were published online. In 2016, the chief executive of Sony, Michael Lynton, revealed that in response to the attack, he now writes out sensitive messages by hand and sends them by fax.
The handwritten approach may seem a bit over the top for some, but the security and peace of mind offered by faxing is clear.
Fax remains a vital component of business communications across many industries. The benefits fax provides ensures its enduring appeal as a communications vehicle, that other comm’s methods such as email simply can’t match.
Our ever-popular Zetafax network fax solution continues to meet on-going demand, offering the advantages of faxing combined with the flexibility of online hosting. It is used by more than 65,000 customers worldwide and improves on manual faxing through factors such as:
- Cost cutting automation
- Automated archiving
- Support for Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP)
- Integration with other applications
Find out more information about Zetafax on our website, or call 0207 203 4000.