I haven’t written a blog about fax in two and half years. So why am I writing one now? I can bet some of the readers of this blog have never even seen a fax machine, since your company probably sends and receives faxes through a multifunction peripheral device (basically a printer and scanner and fax machine all in one). You might chuckle that people well, still fax. It is a way to send a document in its original form, and it does have an audit trail, and as such is still recognized by HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley as legal ways to send information. Perhaps this is why North Korea decided to fax South Korea to let them know they are not happy with them.

And because of this, people still fax to the tune of not millions, but potentially BILLIONS of faxes per year. That’s why we’re still involved in the fax business. And because of that, I do actually still think about fax and where it’s going. Alas, I don’t dream about it, but who knows what the future holds? No matter what, an update is in order since it’s been a while.

My last blog about this talked about moving fax to the Internet and to the cloud, and that transition is still occurring. One hot topic nowadays in the fax world is using HTTPS, or Secure HTTP. Readers will be familiar with this because if you buy something online, once you go into checkout mode, you get moved into an HTTPS connection as opposed to an HTTP connection. This is a way to securely move information on the Internet. That’s why you can feel comfortable putting your credit card information in when using an HTTPS connection (and why if you ever see yourself still on an HTTP connection if you’ve been asked for your credit card you should stop).

So basically, HTTPS is a way to move information in a secure way on the Internet. But it’s not fax as no fax protocol is used. It can be used to move “faxes” into a cloud environment before actual fax transmission, and that’s fine, but HTTPS itself is not faxing. So, if you really need to fax, then make sure fax protocols are used in conjunction with HTTPS. It’s worth asking the question of your provider if this is important to you.

Which brings me to another point. Will anything ever replace fax? Well, email for one has replaced some basic fax communications like sending letters, etc. So, something has already replaced some use cases of fax. But today, many purchase orders still happen with fax, and as I said above, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley recognize fax. It’s because of the certainty of delivery and the delivery audit trail. As individuals and organizations get more comfortable with electronic delivery mechanisms, especially encrypted electronic delivery mechanisms, then we may see a relaxation of having to use fax over time. Likely this will start with private clouds (i.e., businesses putting customers on private clouds so they can track the delivery and have audit trails).

Fax is still alive and thriving today as it moves into the Internet and cloud realm. The tail is long and has outlived many a projection. Don’t count it out.