Companies Can Reap Rewards by Faxing over IP

Most companies don't know how much they spend on faxes. But it's probably too much. Fax-over-Internet is an emerging industry that can save companies a bundle while offering enhanced services.

How much of your company’s phone bill goes to faxing? If you don’t know, you’re not alone.

Most companies are unaware of just how much time and money is lost by traditional faxing. The average Fortune 500 company spends $40 million per year on phone service, 40 percent of which goes to faxing, according to a Gallop/Pitney Bowes survey.

By switching to emerging fax-over-IP, companies can save as much as 70 percent on their long distance phone bill, while gaining some important new features, says Maury Kauffman, managing partner of The Kauffman Group [], a fax technology consulting firm in Vorhees, NJ.

And that’s not all. When calculating the full benefits of fax-over-IP, companies must factor in the cost of fax machines (which can run as high as $2,000 to $3,000 per machine); the cost of operating and maintaining those machines; and wasted labor each time an employee walks to the fax machine, waits for the fax to go through and returns to work. For larger companies using fax servers, the cost can be enormous. Companies can eliminate all of this by switching to fax-over-IP.

Fax-over-IP can also help companies cut down on the cost of other delivery methods, such as mail, overnight delivery and courier services.

Fax -over-IP also solves the problem of mobile professionals who cannot receive faxes when they are out of the office. It enables companies to send faxes via e-mail as attachments. Checking your faxes is as simple as checking your e-mail. What’s more, since many companies, especially those in foreign countries, still rely heavily on fax machines, Fax-over-IP allows users to send e-mail straight to fax machines.

“It connects the wired to the unwired,” says Frances Ianacone, manager of media relations for NetMoves []. NetMoves began offering Internet fax solutions in 1996 as FaxSav. The company recently changed its name to NetMoves to better represent the totality of its services as a provider of Internet document delivery solutions.

NetMoves enables a company to transmit documents via Web sites, computers, traditional fax machines, e-mail systems, fax servers, and other devices through the company’s existing e-mail network without adding hardware or altering the company’s current infrastructure.

NetMoves main product is the FaxLauncher Pro, a PC software program that allows users to deliver documents via the Net as faxes. Users simply create a document in a program like Microsoft Word, click on file/print and then choose FaxLauncher Pro. After entering the appropriate fax number, users can send the document right from their desktops.

But if Fax-over-IP offers so many advantages, the question is why have companies been so slow to adopt this technology? According to Ianacone, part of the problem is finding the right person in a company to pitch Internet fax services to.

“No one is responsible for faxing in most companies,” says Ianacone. “Every department takes care of its own faxing needs.” Faxing is taken for granted and is often overlooked by most companies, Ianacone added.

However, those barriers are rapidly diminishing as more and more companies are looking to the Net to cut costs. In fact, companies are starting to seek out NetMoves, which according to International Data Corp., is the leader in the emerging Internet fax industry. A recent report from IDC, “Internet Fax Market Review and Forecast, 1997-2002,” claims NetMoves holds 30 percent of the total Internet fax market. The closest competitor has an 8 percent share.

In addition to the FaxLauncher Pro, NetMoves offers:

  • FaxCourier, which allows users to receive inbound faxes as e-mail;
  • BroadcastFax, which allows users to distribute Internet documents to 10 or 10,000 recipients simultaneously — in one click
  • FaxProxy, which allows Fax-enabled Web sites to forward electronic requests/profiles/forms to suppliers as a fax;
  • FaxMailer, which allows users to create an e-mail message to be delivered as a fax to some recipients and as an e-mail to others — at once.

In addition to independent companies such as NetMoves, organizations can obtain fax-over-IP services from large ISPs such as UUNet, MCI WorldCom or PSINet Inc., a large commercial ISP. The technologies at all these companies allow users to send and receive fax documents via desktop computers. According to PSINet, users can save as much as 25 to 50 percent on long-distance charges and reduce spending by eliminating the need for additional phone lines, modems, fax equipment and maintenance.

The fax-over-IP market shows no signs of slowing as more and more companies turn to the Net to transmit documents. According to research by The Gartner Group, fax-over-IP will reach 5.6 billion pages carried by 2001, up from 44 million pages in 1997. IDC estimates that fax transmissions represented an $83 billion dollar market in 1998, which is expected to grow to $90 billion by 2000.

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