Some people are amazed that companies are still sending and receiving faxes in this day and age. Surprisingly, faxing is one technology that has kept pace with change and evolved, adapting to new methods of delivery and platforms. Product manager, Scott Hagenus explains how the latest version of GFI FaxMaker is keeping up with the times and what’s so special about this release.
Q: Scott, simple question: why faxing?
When companies need to deliver documents of value quickly, and delivery of those documents needs to be guaranteed, they will most likely use fax.
Faxing has been around for over 100 years, and preceded – the telephone – so if it wasn’t such a rock solid form of communication with real benefits, no one would use the technology. As with every technology, there are some hurdles to overcome and drawbacks as well. Traditionally, faxing is a manual process and you’re also faced with the cost of consumables (paper, ink and so on).
For 20 years, GFI FaxMaker has been helping businesses automate faxing, and turning a manual process into an electronic one that fits in with modern workflows. As businesses change the way they communicate and become more efficient, GFI FaxMaker has evolved to match the way companies communicate and do business. After all, that’s what the fax server is for, making sure a 100-year-old technology helps business communications and not hinder it.
Q: What’s the big news with GFI FaxMaker 2014?
There’s quite a bit of news to share. In the past, GFI FaxMaker had to be installed on a server OS, because it needed the SMTP service to send faxes from email. The only other OS you could use that came with IIS SMTP was Windows XP. XP was favored by a lot of smaller customers because it was cheaper for them. Today there are still companies running GFI FaxMaker on XP but the fact that Microsoft is no longer supporting it or updating it with security patches has become a real problem for these customers. With the 2014 release, customers can install GFI FaxMaker on a Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine. This is possible because the IIS SMTP service is not needed anymore for GFI FaxMaker to run. The beauty of this is that, apart from moving away from XP customers can send documents to the fax server securely because faxing is done by a client that can make a SECURE connection to the fax server!
This is really important for customers in healthcare, legal firms, government institutions, among others, that send sensitive documents as faxes.
Q: Does GFI FaxMaker do more than just send faxes?
Yes it does. With 2014, we’ve expanded the text messaging capability of GFI FaxMaker. We have integrated Message Media’s text message service to give customers guaranteed business SMS communications. They can send text messages from the client, email or automated via the APIs that come as standard with GFI FaxMaker. Text messaging in business is a huge advantage and opportunity. For example, a company that needs to inform customers of their appointments can do so by text message. Nearly everyone reads their text messages and research shows that it massively reduces no-show rates. Better for the business and better for their customers. Text messaging in business goes beyond appointments and can be used for scheduling, event updates, marketing information and much more.
Q: Why do you believe GFI FaxMaker meets most business users’ needs?
That’s an easy one. GFI FaxMaker isn’t new. This is a very well-grounded and rounded product that has been developed based on businesses’ workflows, activities and document delivery needs. The feedback from our users, partners and internal research has enabled GFI to develop one of the leading fax servers on the market.
For instance, while it is relatively easy to get your hands on high-end fax boards in the US, in many other countries, price sensitivity and supply can be problematic for many businesses. To address this issue, we have introduced support for Sangoma analog and ISDN FXO boards to be used with GFI FaxMaker. This gives our customers greater choice and flexibility in communication devices they can use with GFI FaxMaker.
Q: Cloud-based services are growing in popularity. How does GFI FaxMaker fit in?
We know that many businesses want to leverage the investment they made in IP telephony, so we support Fax over IP, which also lets companies install the fax server on a virtual machine. Think smaller footprint, less power consumption, easier management and so on.
We know that software as a service (cloud computing) is very popular with both small and large companies, so we integrated GFI FaxMaker with online fax services to entirely remove the need for phone lines and fax hardware – allowing them to go virtual.
Archiving has become more critical to business and while GFI FaxMaker has archived faxes for some time now, we have added a fax archive viewer so administrators can search for and retrieve faxes faster and more efficiently than ever.
We also introduced web services APIs for our customers who want to integrate and automate the sending and receiving of faxes from their applications. This reduces the need to switch applications when users need to fax documents. It allows companies to fully automate batch runs of faxes directly from their applications. They can also receive inbound faxes directly into their applications workflows, which cuts out a lot of steps normally required to get a paper-based document into the workflow.
All of these additions, on top of the outstanding feature set already available in GFI FaxMaker, make this release very exciting for GFI, and more importantly, for our customers.