The overlooked system preventing true multisite connectivity


Thursday, 02 July, 2020

The overlooked system preventing true multisite connectivity

When you have multiple teams using multiple, legacy systems, it makes it hard to effectively coordinate them all. That’s a problem for organisations working in critical environments that rely on real-time communications to solve problems, optimise productivity and satisfy customers.

That’s why leveraging digital tools is a high priority for any company or organisation that hopes to gain a competitive advantage. But a truly unified organisation where mission-critical information flows smoothly from decision point to decision point is easier said than done.

The question facing IT professionals in these organisations is: what’s the smartest way to modernise legacy approaches within budget while ensuring operations don’t grind to a halt?

One important communications system that many organisations tend to overlook is faxing.

Manual faxing over a phone system is still a key part of business communications in many workplaces. Unmonitored faxed materials are shared between sites/offices and with a myriad of external organisations — posing a real security and compliance risk.

IT professionals who ignore faxing in their digital transformation plans put their organisations at risk, and are missing a quick opportunity to improve connectivity.

What are the roadblocks to a more connected system?

Whether you’re managing miners in an isolated area, managing a dispersed team of drivers or maintenance field technicians, or seeking to improve productivity on the shop floor across a large-scale manufacturing operation, technology is increasingly playing a role.

Embracing technology is the path to more cost-effective processes, fewer overheads and data-driven insights that enable better outputs and continuous improvement.

Leading organisations are looking for ways to capitalise on technologies like enterprise software, wireless networks, automation and robotics, real-time location and geolocation systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and wearables, to name a few.

Digital transformation is a process, not an endpoint. Understandably, companies are at varying levels of maturity. Some will have overhauled legacy software and be trialling high-tech solutions to determine their suitability for large-scale deployment. Others may have updated some systems but still be lacking integration across core functions.

The cultural and practical obstacles to organisation-wide connectivity in a complex industrial or technical setting can be significant — not to mention the cost of such changes.

One study of IT decision-makers from 2018 found that almost 90% were keeping out-of-date legacy systems around, just so they could access old data — despite the fact that more than 30% agreed it tied up IT resources that would be better employed on more strategic activities.

Many organisations treat faxing in a similar way. They allow a disproportionately high amount of time and effort to go into maintaining physical fax machines and fax servers, because they haven’t taken the time to update to a more modern and connected solution.

So why make modernising faxing a priority?

Connected systems have a clear advantage — especially when the end goal is better control, operational agility and watertight compliance.

High-level integration and data sharing may be your end goal, but it’s unlikely to happen overnight. When workers are spread across multiple locations and sites, and the systems that underpin their daily work are fragmented, wholesale changes can be difficult to implement.

Faxing is a prime example of the problems that arise when multiple worksites have their own way of doing things. Different teams may use different combinations of fax servers, multifunction printers, fax cards and individual fax machines.

There’s also a lack of oversight and consistency, which for IT managers means:

  • You have no central log or visibility of how information and privacy is being managed.
  • You need to apply unique fixes for each site, which is more costly and time-consuming.
  • Making changes, adding or integrating other systems becomes more complicated.

Faxing is low-hanging fruit that’s ripe for modernisation, and cloud-based electronic faxing is the ideal solution.

Savvy IT professionals know that replacing legacy systems isn’t the only way to make gains. It can be more cost-effective to simply redeploy a system on more accessible, feature-rich and secure cloud infrastructure.

For IT leaders that need to find the right balance between enhancing existing systems and introducing greater digitisation, a painless transition to electronic faxing is an excellent way to simplify and streamline in the short term.

Removing obstacles to running a better, digitally enabled operation is a smart move.

Consolidate this key system to benefit now

If faxing matters to your organisation, you need to take care of the systems that support faxing, whether it’s your priority or not. Manual faxing will take up more time and pull your attention away from bigger tasks, because it’s typically disjointed and inefficient in its current state.

Your team’s talent shouldn’t be wasted on troubleshooting fax machines, rebooting crashed fax servers or managing an ageing fax infrastructure. Switching to cloud faxing is the answer.

Cloud faxing gives organisations a consolidated view — and control — of all fax activity, eliminates the need for a physical fax line and machines, and makes transmitting information via fax more secure and reliable. It makes sending a fax as easy as sending an email but allows for centralised administration and reporting.

The benefits of cloud faxing are many

Improved security

Lack of visibility over business communications is a security risk. Data shared via faxed documents can contain personal and commercial-in-confidence information such as names, contact information, contractual arrangements and financial details. Documents can be lost, viewed or picked up by an unauthorised employee, and there is often no mechanism to track and securely store every fax for audit and legal purposes.

Cloud faxing makes governance of faxing simple. Digital faxes with encryption enable confidential information to be shared instantly, without the receiving machine keeping a record.

Improved compliance

Organisations need to adhere to privacy laws and meet federal mandates regarding data transfer, tracking and storage. Your ability to operate, and your reputation in your sector, depends on meeting standards and customers’ expectations.

Cloud faxing allows you to easily identify and report usage by individual fax number, employee, client, vendor or other criteria. All incoming and outgoing messages are securely stored in the cloud where they can be categorised, searched and audited. A cloud-based fax to email service ensures you don’t have to worry that your faxing process are falling short of regulatory compliance.

Better utilisation of resources

Make better use of both your talent and your materials. Consolidated, cloud-based systems allow for more automation and remote working. Tools that deliver anytime, anywhere connectivity support your team to be more responsive but also to work in more flexible ways.

That’s important when your team is spread out, or when unforeseen circumstances prevent ‘business as usual’ approaches — as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. Cloud faxing is also a leaner approach, requiring less capital infrastructure, less maintenance and fewer resources to run in terms of line rental, physical space, toner, paper and IT personnel.

A more adaptable business environment

Legacy systems like manual faxing are more vulnerable to technological change, which limits their usefulness long-term and your team’s capacity to support them. A prime example is the upcoming rollout of the nbn, which will see most fixed-line networks become obsolete — forcing some kind of workaround to make a physical fax machine viable. Why not switch to the cloud instead and avoid more messy interventions that may not work 100% of the time anyway?

Don’t overlook faxing if connectivity matters

If you’re responsible for the management of IT infrastructure and the associated data privacy, cybersecurity and compliance concerns, all within a limited budget, disconnected and haphazard systems are a hassle.

Secure and consolidated networks are important, especially in the mining, manufacturing, utilities, public safety and transport industries. The right digital communications tools contribute to improved physical security on sites, improved cybersecurity, improved productivity, and faster response times for customers during emergencies or safety incidents.

Because it’s been around so long, faxing often flies under the radar. It has a reputation for being old-fashioned and yet it remains an important tool for business communication.

Faxing is a critical form of business communication coming in and going out of every site across your organisation — and it shouldn’t be neglected in the rush to embrace digital tools.

Consider a move to electronic faxing in the cloud to effortlessly increase connectivity, and build momentum towards more strategic digital business goals.

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