What is Cloud Fax?
Is your business stuck when it comes to faxing? Manual faxes feel outdated in today’s fast-paced, technologically advanced world. But email alone doesn’t provide the same level of security as faxing, and some of the businesses you deal with may exclusively require faxes for certain documents.
Cloud fax may be the solution you’re looking for. Read on to learn about cloud faxing and how this secure document transmission service can improve your business operations today.
What Is Cloud Fax?
Cloud fax is the modern-day alternative to traditional, manual fax machines. Cloud fax solutions transmit and receive faxes digitally.
These online services boast a variety of security features, ensuring that online digital fax transmissions are just as secure as faxes transmitted through physical phone lines without any of the hassles of dealing with busy signals, waiting lines in the office, or paper jams.
How Does Cloud Fax Work?
There are different types of cloud fax services, and each type of cloud fax works in a slightly different way. However, at their core, all work by using external servers to send and receive documents.
Digital fax machines send outgoing faxes to an external server (or “cloud” server). If the receiver also has a digital fax machine, they receive a notification that they have a fax waiting for them. The receiver can then choose to download the incoming faxes at their convenience.
Alternatively, if the digital fax is being sent to a physical fax machine, it will work similarly to traditional faxes. If there is a busy signal on the receiving fax machine, the digital fax will be held by the cloud application until there is a free line, at which point the digital fax will be transmitted to the physical fax machine.
Within this framework, there are three different levels of cloud fax, each of which works a little differently:
- Basic cloud fax services, also known as free cloud fax services, use an online portal to give individuals occasional access to fax services. This provides some of the benefits of cloud faxing and is perfect for people who might need to send a document to a business every once in a while.
- Traditional cloud fax services offer a slightly elevated level of security while also allowing secure faxes to go into your email inbox or the recipient’s email inbox. These services generally offer a limited number of faxes in a period of time but more versatility than if you worked with a free cloud fax solution.
- Secure cloud fax services, also known as enterprise fax services, offer extended digital faxing options. This may include maximum security options, such as FERPA-compliant faxes, or unlimited online faxing capabilities.
Benefits of Cloud Fax Communications
Online fax services provide a number of benefits for the businesses that use them, as well as for the receiving parties. You can save money, securely send and receive faxes from almost anywhere, reduce paper use, and improve workflow integrations.
Traditional fax machines cost companies thousands of dollars each year.
There are the expected costs, including the initial cost of the machine and the regular costs of toner, ink, and paper. But there are also unexpected or hidden costs to using manual fax machines. People who own traditional fax machines should clean their scanners on a regular basis or risk poor fax quality. Manual fax machines also need to be serviced on a regular basis. And you need to keep a dedicated phone line open to run your fax machine.
Finally, there are the hidden costs of using your fax machine. Even with a high-end machine, it can take up to three seconds per page to send a fax. This affects business continuity, forcing you and your team to stand and wait for faxes to go through, impacting your productivity in the process.
Digital faxing eliminates the majority of these expenses. Cloud faxing is a near-instantaneous process, so it reduces wait times for sending and receiving faxes. You never have to worry about maintenance or servicing. And you don’t have to pay for paper, toner, or ink. The only cost you have to worry about is the monthly fee for using cloud-based fax services.
Accessibility and Mobility
Manual fax machines are stationary. You have to walk over to them to use them, and incoming faxes can sit in the printer all day if you aren’t on the lookout for them.
When you fax online, you can send or receive documents from anywhere. Inbound faxes are delivered to your inbox or cloud fax application, making them accessible to anyone in your company who needs them. You don’t have to worry about tight spaces. Workers with disabilities are just as capable of sending and receiving faxes as other members of your team. This convenience is invaluable for continual business operations.
One of the biggest downsides to on-premise fax services is the lack of security. Faxes often sit on printers for hours at a time. Anyone who walks by the fax machine during that period of time can see, or even retrieve, the documents. This can lead to major HIPAA or FERPA violations.
You can also face security issues when you’re sending faxes. Because faxing documents takes such a long period of time, workers often walk away from the faxes they’re sending and come back to them later. While this may increase productivity, it also increases the chances of other people seeing the documents they’re trying to send.
Cloud-based fax services eliminate these security issues. Consensus, for example, uses TLS technology to encrypt incoming and outgoing faxes, ensuring that only authorized parties can access the information processed by the cloud fax server. This empowers your company to meet compliance standards with no extra effort on your part.
Choosing how to use fax for business is a major decision. When you’re dealing with a manual fax machine, you can only send or receive one fax at a time. Otherwise, you deal with busy signals and the faxes can’t go through. To scale your business, you have to invest in another large fax machine and all the bells and whistles that go with it.
Using a cloud-based fax server makes it much easier to scale. Cloud fax providers usually offer a range of options and payment plans depending on your needs. As you scale your business, you can increase your payment plan. This means that small businesses that only send one or two faxes a month don’t need to pay as much as enterprise operations that send hundreds of faxes each day, and both businesses can access exactly what they need.
Using cloud fax services means going paper-free. You can transfer documents between businesses without creating the excessive waste — from sheets of paper to ink cartridges — that you automatically generate when you use manual fax machines.
Fax machines also take electricity to run, whereas cloud fax servers are already operational and can power multiple businesses.
Combine online faxing with digital storage solutions, and you can significantly cut down on your carbon footprint. This is a great way to lower your environmental impact without disrupting your day-to-day business operations.
Modern Workflow Integrations
Cloud fax machines integrate with applications you’re already using, improving connections between businesses while melding seamlessly with your team’s existing workflow. Consensus, for example, has partnered with Hyland Software to integrate cloud fax services with the technology healthcare providers use every day.
Cloud Fax Use Cases
Curious about how cloud fax would work for your business? Here are some of the top cloud fax service use cases. Learn how cloud solutions help different industries operate more efficiently and effectively.
The healthcare industry deals with sensitive data on a regular basis. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are tasked with improving interoperability while maintaining stringent HIPAA security standards. Traditional fax machines make it difficult to simultaneously meet these two goals.
Consensus’s HIPAA-compliant cloud fax application, on the other hand, allows healthcare providers to focus on improving customer care and efficiency without compromising on security. Consensus verifies the identification of every user, ensuring no back-door hacking into your systems. Authenticated users with two-step verification make it possible for providers to exchange information without violating HIPAA standards. And all of this can be done from the convenience of a computer or mobile device, so doctors and nurses can send and receive documents while continuing to serve patients in a fast-paced healthcare environment.
Lawyers and other individuals working in the legal field are required to make reasonable efforts to keep information about their cases confidential. Not doing so can have major consequences for both your client and your firm. Imagine a competing law firm getting ahold of the details of your case, and it becomes abundantly clear why it’s important to ensure every document you send or receive is encrypted and kept to authorized users only.
Traditional faxes and emails open your firm up to security breaches. With secure cloud faxing, on the other hand, you can enjoy the convenience of email without the risk. Each document is encrypted using TLS technology, and two-way authentication with verified users keeps your documents under lock and key.
Financial institutions — including banks, accounting firms, and consultants — deal with private financial information on a regular basis. If details about bank accounts or credit scores get out, their customers will not trust them and will choose to take their business elsewhere. These types of mistakes can quickly send a financial institution under.
Outdated technology leaves financial institutions open to hackers, DDoS attackers, and scammers. By investing in secure cloud faxing, these financial institutions ensure their customers’ private finances remain private. Online faxing is fast and easy, and unlike with manual faxing, multiple employees can use online fax servers simultaneously. For major financial institutions with numerous employees, this enterprise-level accessibility is critical to maintaining continual business operations.
Small business owners may need to send and receive invoices or exchange documents on a regular basis. But for small business owners who send faxes infrequently, a manual fax machine may not be worth the investment. Depending on the size of your business, it may not even be practical to dedicate space to a bulky fax machine.
Instead, small business owners often find themselves traveling to local libraries or to other companies to send and receive faxes, cutting into their operations as a result.
Cloud-based faxing enables these small business owners to operate on the same scale and level of professionalism as larger organizations. Whether you’re a 10-person operation or an independent contractor, investing in cloud faxing empowers you to navigate the corporate world without a hitch.
The education sector regularly deals with sensitive student data. FERPA and HIPAA standards both govern how people in the education field can handle that data.
In the past, administrators would fax documents like student records or immunization records between schools. Fax machines are often located in offices that other students are walking in and out of on a daily basis. This leads to major security issues, which could result in expensive fines for schools.
With cloud-based faxing, administrators and educators can exchange sensitive information without violating security standards. And because cloud-based faxing can happen anywhere, it’s faster and easier than ever to help students in a timely fashion.
Manufacturing and Construction
When you work in manufacturing and construction, you’re generally not at a desk or congregating in an office. Unfortunately, the on-the-go nature of your business operations doesn’t change your customer’s expectations that you send invoices, estimates, and updates in a timely fashion.
Cloud faxing can be done wherever you have internet and a device. This allows you to send these time-sensitive documents from anywhere. Say goodbye to working after hours to send all your documents out at once, and hello to the convenience of mobile faxing from any location.
Retailers use faxes for a variety of things, including invoices, shipment tracking, and customer communications. With so many different documents being sent and received, retailers may need to invest in multiple phone lines to keep manual faxes running smoothly throughout the day. This is a major space investment and can increase overhead costs.
Online faxing simplifies this process. Retail business owners receive all critical documents directly to their email inbox, allowing them to review and react to information as it comes in. With a fax server like Consensus, retailers can streamline operations, allowing documents to come in at any time of day or night without paying out the nose in overhead costs.
Best Practices for Cloud Faxing
Cloud faxing is a simple and efficient process that anyone in your business can learn to use. Here are some best practices for cloud faxing to keep in mind:
- Conduct a Risk Assessment: Assess your business needs and determine your risk factors and security requirements. This will help you choose the type of cloud faxing service your company should get.
- Require 2-Step Authentication: Documents are more secure when you use multi-factor verification. Require your team members to verify their IDs and enable two-step authentication to keep your documents secure.
- Encrypt Your Documents: Cloud faxing is safer when you use a provider that encrypts data at every step in the faxing journey.
- Choose the Right Provider: Partner with a cloud fax service provider, like Consensus, with a proven track record for transmitting secure faxes.
How To Choose the Right Cloud Fax Solution
If you’re considering investing in a cloud fax solution, you’ll want one that follows cloud faxing best practices and is targeted to meet your needs. Working with a company like Consensus is a partnership. You need to be able to trust that your partner can provide cloud fax services consistently and securely.
Here are some key features to look for when choosing the right cloud fax solution for your needs:
- Efficiency: Look for a company that provides instantaneous faxes from anywhere, including automatic downloads and fax distributions, to ensure that your business operations are never weighed down by out-of-date technology.
- Security: Your cloud fax solution should include updated security technology, TLS encryption, and authorized user identification to guarantee your documents only go to their intended recipients.
- Trustworthiness: Look for a cloud fax company with a proven track record for exceeding customer expectations. If you don’t know a company’s reputation, check online reviews and read top news articles to learn more.
- Omnichannel communication strategy: Your online fax solution should blend seamlessly into your omnichannel communication strategy. Look for a cloud fax solution that integrates with technology you’re already using or that can take the place of existing, outdated communication stacks.
Get Started With a Cloud Fax Service Today
Ready to make the leap and enjoy the benefits of cloud fax services? Consensus is here to help.
Consensus is more than just an online fax service provider. Choose from a variety of services, including secure cloud faxing, HIPAA-compliant e-signatures, NLP/AI document processing, robotic automation, real-time event notifications, and an interoperability platform. Make your experience with Consensus as streamlined or robust as you need while enjoying the benefits of the number one cloud faxing platform around.