Gently Letting Go of the Fax Machine

It's time to move on.

April 10, 2014
Fax machines need to go away

"What's your fax number?" It's a question that should never be asked. Period. We have to stop faxing. I know, it's not going to be an easy task. For example, certain campus departments are still fax fans. You know who they are...you might even work there. Human resources, contracts and accounts, and anyone who deals with reimbursements. Yes, I'm generalizing. Some of the above listed areas are quite modernized. However, some offices are still holding onto their fax machines with an embrace that is quite affectionate. Every single time I ask a group of higher education professionals if they still send faxes, the answer is always a saddening "yes."

The fax is my least favorite communications mechanism. Let's recap the faxing process. First, you have to print out a document. Then, you take said document and feed it successfully (you know you just sent a blank page, right?) into the fax machine's gaping maw. Okay, now it gets interesting. If you're faxing someone who isn't on-campus, then you're going to need a long distance code. Take the handcuff off of your wrist, open the special fax code briefcase, and enter in the 72 digit key combination to fax your "special" blank page (you never get it right the first time) through the beep-beep, boop-boop phone lines of 1987. But wait...the fax on the other end is out of toner. Your message in a phone line bottle is trapped. Eventually, your scanned (sorry, I forgot that step) document, that you printed from Word (after inserting it into the DOC), gets successfully printed by another fax machine. A glorious exchange? I don't think so.

Faxes, faxing, and the entire process are probably the silliest thing that we still do in higher education from a business transaction perspective. Recently, one of my corporate consulting clients sent me a contract to sign and email. Everything was done via dark magic, the Internet, and something called Adobe Acrobat. The future you ask? No. This is the crux of faxes and faxing. You see, we don't need the fax anymore. We have to pry it loose from our paws and adopt easy to use technologies that make us more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Do I have a fax number? No way. Do I have a computer with speedy Internet access and a willingness to conduct transactions efficiently? Absolutely.


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