The rate of change among rapid digital communication channels in Australia is accelerating faster than anyone had predicted. Three interconnected technological advancements have created a feedback loop that is driving the acceleration of change across the globe. Those three technologies are:
As a result, business has changed from an environment characterized by phone calls and personal meetings to a high tech world of rapid digital communication. Although the last telegram in Australia was sent in 1993, other parts of the world were still being served by this older technology. That ended when the last telegram in the world was sent in India in July of 2013. What this really means is that the planet has finally put 20th century technology behind us to move toward a more mobile and interconnected future. Communications in the 21st century are currently defined by high speed Wi-Fi everywhere and cellular data packages for mobile devices. The traditional business model of handshakes and cold calls has developed into a mobile office structure depending on mobile devices, laptops, and a 24-hour sales cycle. Computers have evolved from a room-sized monstrosity as powerful as a calculator to a phone full of apps that can help you make decisions, predict consumer behaviour, and connect you to anyone in any time zone. “Computer” isn't even an adequate word for what our digital assistants do for us anymore.
The world of business has seen a series of small revolutions in technology that have contributed to the bigger picture of better communications technology overall and resulted in new ways of staying connected. Here is a sample of some of the most significant changes over the past decade:
When a phone call meant one caller and one receiver, decisions could be agonizingly slow. PBX systems opened up the world of 3-way calling, then teleconferencing with crowds of participants. Now entire layers of management can give their endorsement immediately and projects that took weeks to approve can be turned around in a day. The problem now becomes making sure that production can keep up with sales.
Physical meetings seem quaint now. We used to have to fly or drive to distant locations to meet with clients. Now we handle the basic meet and greet over video communication with software like Polycom, Skype or a Google+ Hangout. These work hand in hand with online collaboration tools like Arkadin that offer productivity tools to keep distributed teams on the same page.
This is one area where the transformations resulting from new technology have been the most dramatic. Where there once were bulky copier/fax machines the size of refrigerators, we now have online digital faxing. No more landlines, toner cartridges spilling everywhere, or masses of wasted paper from unwanted faxes. You can fax from your desktop, from your kitchen table on a laptop, or even on the train using an app on your mobile phone.
The vast distances involved and dispersed population in Australia makes faxing the ideal medium for sending files too large for email. High quality images and presentations cannot be handled by most email servers, but can be easily faxed via mBox™. That is one reason why faxing is still more valuable than scanning and emailing in many industries across Australia. Faxing retains a large volume of usage in major corporations and in traditional verticals such as insurance, banking, health, government, etc. To communicate effectively with these clients, you need to use the communication tools that they prefer.
This was recently made clear in a report from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Australia's Digital Economy: Future Directions - Final Report listed a variety of businesses and industries that are using online communications in new ways. For example, a printing firm in a remote area on the Yorke Peninsula contracted its large print runs to a contractor in Perth so it could focus on online communications and high value, short run printing. Along the same lines, a small insurance broker that specialised in financial advisory was able to open many remote branches across Australia through online collaboration and cloud-based software in virtual offices. In both cases, the materials and contracts would be too large to send by email and would need to be faxed.
The ability to fax from email removes several steps from the process. With a traditional fax machine, you have to print a document, find a fax number and contact name, make a cover sheet, dial the numbers until you get through, stand by the fax machine and wait for the confirmation. Fax over email is as easy as selecting reply, attaching the doc and hitting send. You can fax many different document types such as slide decks, .pdf's, and high resolution marketing images, even those too large to be handled by an email server. By using mBox™, you can send and receive these documents directly from your email. When you receive a private fax with sensitive information, it goes right to your inbox and remains private. When a customer or business partner sends you a fax, you can forward the email with its attachment to many people instead of having to make copies yourself.
Storage of old faxes is improved dramatically using an online service. All faxes sent or received by mBox™ are stored in a secure database that only you can access. This storage is good for a lifetime (as long as you keep your mBox™ account) and the faxes are searchable by keywords instead of just being filed by the client's name. That means with an online fax solution you won’t have to worry anymore about misfiles and or late nights shredding old documents to meet industry regulations on security of client information.
Administration of faxes is streamlined by mBox™ as well. Faxes arrive in your inbox and you can route them wherever they need to go automatically. Put them in folders according to region, time sensitivity, or the actions that need to be taken with them. There is no longer any need to wait at the fax machine for an important document to arrive. Go anywhere and the fax comes to your inbox, whether that is on your laptop or mobile device. You can even set up an alert to let you know when it is ready for your review. The successful business depends on making the right deals at the right time. You need to be ready when that deal comes through.
In contrast, traditional fax machines that must remain connected to a dedicated land line have three main drawbacks: they use up too many precious resources like paper and toner cartridges, they require ongoing maintenance, and take up too much time in a busy day. Add up all the time you have wasted on printing, scanning, dialing access codes and dealing with inevitable annoyances like misdials or busy signals. Consider not just the man-hours wasted by the opportunity costs when you could have been working on finding new business. This process puts a damper on productivity, when you can send and receive multiple faxes from your desk and get more done during your day using mBox™.
Even though many large organizations are the biggest users of online fax technology, small businesses continue to adopt this new technology. Online faxing is a form of communication that allows sales and marketing professionals to contact customers/prospects at all levels of technology. For busy executives who receive hundreds of emails and phone calls, faxing remains the only way to contact them directly. They employ gatekeepers to answer their phones and screen their emails, but a fax lays out all the important points for them in a succinct and visual way.
At the other end of the spectrum are industries that are more traditional, like governmental organizations and manufacturing, which are not as dependent on advances in technology. They may rely on faxing for complex orders and communication.
A very encouraging sign on the future of Australian business came from Optus, the second largest telco in Australia. John Paitaridis, managing director at Optus, said, “What we are witnessing is an industry transformation.” He found that there has been an upswell of investment in virtual communication tools like online faxing for mobile interactions. Optus projected that online communication channels will expand at an enormous rate over the next three to five years while mobile tech investments will at least double in that time. In short, the age of rapid digital communication is here and the businesses that take advantage of the tools available will be best positioned to succeed in the new economy.