Fax

Choosing the right fax server: Security, privacy and compliance

Organizations today face a multitude of compliance directives and thus their investments in a fax solution must be able to demonstrate tangible capabilities that contribute to the security and privacy of their faxes and associated data. Many businesses that rely on fax turn to fax servers to provide top-notch security and privacy of fax documents. Faxing, by its nature, is reasonably secure (the point-to-point transmission of a fax over a secure PSTN) and is highly resistant to tampering, interception, viruses, or malware. In highly regulated industries, fax continues to be the main – and sometimes only – acceptable, secure communication method between parties. Specific security features to look for in a fax server are plenty. While some of the security measure may seem obvious, you may not have thought of these: · Look for a faxing solution that allows multiple servers on the same network to communicate directly with each other through least-cost routing to eliminate telephony charges. This will allow for high speed encrypted faxing between network fax servers and will bypass phone lines or dedicated FoIP connections. · A fax solution should be able to encrypt fax images that reside in the images folder/fax database – this protects images “at rest” from intrusions and hackers alike. · Customizable outbound dialing rules can gain precise control of outbound faxing by specifying rules and restrictions over how faxes are sent. · Make sure that a fax server has secure SMTP options for support for off-premises email solutions and provides authenticated, secure, encrypted connections (TLS and SSL). · Many fax servers offer other forms of delivery, which increase the security of transmission, such as secure email, certified delivery, and encrypted PDF delivery. · Tip: Automating paper-intensive delivery processes to eliminate paper handling and reduce opportunities for unauthorized viewing of fax content. Organizations can also eliminate inefficient manual routing that could breach security and privacy guidelines. Other security options are available for making sure the content that is being sent is approved for transmission. Many organizations have strict regulations regarding the type of content that can be transmitted. A fax server should provide the ability to require approvals prior to sending–someone who reviews the electronic document and provides approval prior to transmission. This approval system can be in place for any type of content: contracts, RFP/RFQs, invoices, legal notifications, etc. and is designed to be an internal fail-safe for organizations trading confidential or sensitive content. Regardless of the vendor you choose, be sure to investigate their security processes and review any documentation that the fax server provider has produced. Do they have a whitepaper on their security features? Knowing what to look for is the first step – recognizing it in the fax server provider is now in your hands! Look for the next article in the series, Choosing the right fax server: Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery. 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level

To this point we’ve discussed the key benefits of enterprise fax services in general – notably their ability to enable cost effective on-demand faxing while providing high degrees of flexibility and scalability. There are however specific features beyond these general descriptions worth mentioning. These features speak primarily to how both individual users and business systems leverage fax technology to optimize enterprise information management. From an individual user perspective, integrating fax with existing email and desktop applications is the main example – whether you integrate with Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes or another desktop program. This enables users to fax files without first printing them – turning a multi-step process into one that takes seconds. Your fax service should be able to convert common desktop file types – like PDF, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint as well as JPEG files to images for faxing without user intervention. Enterprise fax technology should also offer integrations that merge fax with back office applications and systems, multi-function devices (MFDs) as well as terminal systems that support “print only” functions. All of these methods make faxing convenient as it allows users and systems to strategically manage and send documents almost simultaneously. In other words fax technology lets you access various information management platforms and cut the typical cost and productivity drains associated with using traditional standalone fax machines. Enterprise fax services also offer add-on capabilities that streamline operations with regards to certain document management processes. For example you can incorporate capture technology that automatically extracts and converts inbound fax documents into data before delivering it into your unique workflow. Imagine you’re a supplier that receives sales orders via paper fax, but you’re experiencing lags in your business cycle from manually rekeying order information into your ERP system. That’s where these add-on document capture and workflow services can help. They will convert those paper fax orders into electronic data and deliver it into your sales ordering system, like SAP for example, based on your unique business rules. From there you can also add notifications alerting your procurement department an order has arrived, and is in process. Workflow examples like this, where fax plays a key role, can extend to everything from accounts receivable to loan application processing. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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Choosing the right fax server: Easy Routing and Storage of Fax Documents

One of the biggest business benefits of enterprise fax servers is the ability to integrate faxes into a workflow or business process. Did you know that this integration is driven largely by “rules” set for incoming faxes, which are customizable based on a number of inbound fax routing options? A fax server can serve as an on ramp to a workflow process, an index and storage application, or as a routing mechanism to direct documents to the final destinations within an organization. Organizations should evaluate their workflow/business process requirements against the capture routing and storage features of a given fax server. EASY ROUTING OF FAX DOCUMENTS Routing based on phone number dialed, such as DID/DNIS: Administrators can set up rules to automatically use the telephony information associated with the inbound fax for routing purposes and more. For example, if they dial your fax number, the fax comes to you! Here’s where it gets interesting! Routing based on rules: Inbound faxes can be routed based on a number of customizable rules. These routing options are designed to get the faxed documents where they need to go quickly and efficiently. Routing options include delivering faxes to: · An individual user’s fax inbox or integrated email inbox. · All members of a group’s inboxes-Many fax server solutions can provide systematic distribution of faxes to groups of users either linearly (to user 1, 2, 3, etc.) or in a round robin workflow (to the next available inbox). · A network folder · Back-end workflow systems and other business applications · Vertical applications · Content management systems · Storage systems · MFP devices-A fax solution should have a setting for received faxes that allow for inbound faxes to be automatically printed upon receipt. Routing based on fax content: Some fax servers can search the content of an incoming fax and route the fax based on its recognized characters. This is particularly important to those industries that use account numbers, barcodes or other identifying fields in their fax content. · Optical/Intelligent Character Recognition (OCR/ICR): Seek an enterprise fax solution that has OCR processors available. Convert images of text in received faxes into standard, editable text files. · Barcode Recognition and Routing (routes faxes based on barcode data): Barcode information is included in the fax history record and routes based on routing rules. · XML Export: A process by which the fax server application outputs fax image files and metadata in XML format. These can be imported into an XML-compatible document management system, Microsoft SharePoint, etc. EASY STORAGE OF ELECTRONIC FAX DOCUMENTS Don’t forget to keep your faxes for as long as you need them! Archiving fax documents shouldn’t be a painful process. Be sure to choose a fax server which enables fax archiving to allow for easy storage and retrieval of fax documents. These features should include: · Record all inbound and outbound fax transactions and provide searchable access · The ability to archive automatically without the suspension of operations · The ability to export faxes and metadata to third-party archiving or content management systems · Searchable PDF capabilities should be considered if there is a need to create text searchable versions of inbound faxes. This feature is import to companies that need to store or archive faxes with searchable content from keywords and text strings. Search fax history as easily as typing a keyword search string to find related faxes. Also, select a fax server that includes optional automatic archive capabilities such as security and encryption, compliance and audit readiness, and a comprehensive search and retrieval engine. Evaluating a fax server should always include a review of the routing and storage options offered with the solution. These options will help you integrate fax in business processes and get the fax to the right person faster. Productivity increases tremendously when implementing smart routing options. And keeping those faxes in a safe and secure location shouldn’t ever be overlooked. Watch for the next article in the series- Choosing the right fax server: Security, Privacy and Compliance. 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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Reasons for Customer Communications Management

The concept of Customer Communications Management (CCM) is quite broad. To understand its importance, let’s review the basics and focus on several important reasons why organizations invest in developing and executing a CCM strategy. What You Should Know About CCM Customer Communications Management: Enables corporate-wide deployment spanning different departments and functions. Reassigns responsibility for documents to content specialists. Ensures corporate image consistency. Minimizes compliance and liability-related risks associated with documents. Offers the potential to optimize costs and up-sell / cross-sell. Enables full control over customer communications. Helps avoid errors in correspondence. Provides a central platform for all corporate communications. Optimization in Customer Communications One can maximize profits while cutting costs in the area of customer communications. However, many companies still do not realize this and continue wasting money on postage and impersonal communications with customers. This situation continues to prevail, despite the fact that personalized customer correspondence can and should be optimized more often to help reach corporate goals. A Step Ahead of the Competition with Your Customer Correspondence The way you choose to communicate with customers can be the decisive factor that enables you to stand out in a packed competitive landscape. It is no wonder that a survey of SMEs by IBM® confirmed that customer care is taking on increasing significance for enterprises. The survey revealed that 79% of respondents ranked better customer care as the key issue facing their business. The McKinsey Quarterly listed three facts that highlighted the rising importance of customer communications to enterprises in general: 1. 98% of enterprises lack an effective or efficient strategy on how to deal with documents. 2. For each dollar an enterprise spends on composing a document, another nine are needed to manage it. 3.  Even modest investments to optimize document-related processes can have a major impact on the financial outcome. Optimizing customer communications and all other document-related areas adds value to your IT, editing, document creation, and customer management units while distinguishing you from your competitors. Another way to distinguish yourself is by adding a personal touch to your correspondences. This increases customer loyalty as well as works in your advantage when working to win new customers. It also emphasizes to customers the importance of communication to your company. Constant Emphasis on Costs, Control, and Quality The 21st century’s personalized service mentality and the advancement of social media as the communications platform preferred by many consumers have brought about significant changes in the area of customer communication. Yet, the status quo of many companies remains unchanged, for example: 1. Each department communicates separately with customers. 2. Many data processing applications and IT systems are inadequately integrated, or are not integrated at all, when it comes to processing customer communications and document creation. 3. The Corporate Identity /Corporate Design are inconsistent, depending on who worked on a particular document. 4. There is no central platform for saving, managing, and extracting information. The aforementioned issues cause problems in corporate communications. By passively reacting or not responding to the new ways in which consumers communicate, enterprises are steadily incurring rising costs. Companies experience serious financial drawbacks by choosing to deploy mostly printed correspondence (an outdated approach) instead of opting for more digital communications. Moreover, the costs associated with following-up on written correspondence are relatively high. Wherever communications generate competitive advantage, inadequate control over those communications could mean a significant disadvantage. For instance, it can be difficult to enforce guidelines and standards of quality without keeping the proper tabs on the communication channels and documenting actions and interactions of customers and employees. Therefore, companies must constantly emphasize the costs, controls, and quality of their communications. These are the key parameters to focus on when introducing modern CCM systems to ensure standardized communications. CCM – A Solution for Enterprises The expression “Customer Communications Management” was used by analysts such as Forrester Research, the Gartner Group, and Madison Advisors, to define a convergent set of information technology solutions for communicating with customers (Figure 1, CCM Framework). Figure 1. Customer Communications Management Framework. The goal of CCM is to optimize the way enterprises communicate with their customers. This does not mean sending more offers or information to customers, but rather boosting the relevance, uniformity, and clarity of communication. Create Personalized Correspondence for the Customer CCM is a field in which software is used to format and personalize customer-specific content and send it in an electronic or physical form. CCM encompasses various kinds of content, including letters, bills, financial correspondence, marketing materials, reminders, offers and more. Recognize the Hidden Potential CCM should be one of the core competencies of any enterprise, since it facilitates direct contact with the customer, regardless of the industry or sector involved. Applications can be divided into structured, interactive, and on-demand documents. The relevant processes fall into the 3 categories below: Structured Documents Structured documents are scheduled, consistently formatted, and rarely need any formal changes; thus template management plays an important role here. Such documents are often created in batches or are offset for print runs. Success thus depends on generating large volumes and controlling the print data streams. Examples: phone bills, brokerage statements Interactive Documents Interactive documents require linking the customer-specific data with predefined structures. Compared with structured output, these call for a high degree of personalization. This means that the software uses a particular set of text blocks, rules, and variables to provide more individualized output based on matching customer-specific and customer-relevant data. Many enterprises would like to see templates, document structures, and text blocks controlled by specialists, while having the option to control documents through multiple channels. Examples: customer correspondence, marketing materials, offers, contracts On-Demand Documents These documents are generally triggered by requests from various incoming channels of an enterprise, such as the web, fax, phone, email, and ERP systems with integrated solutions. On-demand output may be initiated automatically or manually. Examples: service correspondence in a call center, documents from a Web portal The CCM concept is a technical one that can be simplified regardless of the kind of output an enterprise wishes to generate. It applies mostly to the data-handling system (CRM / ERP) used to create the documents. In addition, the concept focuses solely on a conversation with customers. Since implementation is straightforward, the IT department can return to concentrating on its main tasks once it hands over responsibility for the CCM system to content specialists. In our upcoming posts, we will examine core components of a successful CCM strategy in detail – stay tuned!  

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Fax to the rescue!

This coverage of the Asian Games 2014 says that with North Korean websites blocked in South Korea, reporters from there are turning to fax to file their stories. Once again – fax proves to be a ubiquitous technology that comes through in pinch. Go Fax!

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Choosing the right fax server: Production Faxing and Application Integrations

Production Faxing If you have identified a business process or workflow involving faxes that are generated “automatically” (typically without human involvement), this section is particularly important. Automated faxing, or production faxing, is a term used to describe a means by which the application sends documents to the fax server, and the fax server then delivers the documents reliably as faxes, secure email or both. A fax server that has production fax capabilities should integrate seamlessly with back-office applications that produce batch-oriented documents. As a result, the fax server ingests the document from the back-office system, creates and formats the documents, and then delivers them as individual faxes, complete with notifications of delivery status and a traceable audit trail.Seek a solution that offers tools to receive data from network folders or print streams of large batch jobs (invoices, purchase orders, for example) and can reliably send them to unique recipients–fully unattended and automated. A production fax solution should have the ability to create automated notifications of the progress of each production fax batch job, and more importantly, each document within the group.Most fax servers will integrate with virtually any back-office applications with integration tools, modules and APIs, including those that support embedded scripting command languages, XML, JAVA, and COM. However, some fax servers offer pre-built, certified integrations to applications such as SAP® and Oracle®.Connector for SAP – Check to see if the fax solution has a prebuilt connector for SAP so that you can create, send and receive faxes from SAP. You can customize fax cover sheets either through SAP or the fax server. Use this integration to send batches of faxes at once where you can submit faxes to be grouped into a batch and sent later at a prescheduled time. Need to adjust your dialing rules? Advanced integrations allow configuration of special dialing rules that can modify outgoing fax numbers above and beyond the SAP “exception rules”. Connectors for Oracle – Check to see if your fax server has a prebuilt connector for Oracle so that you can create, send and receive faxes from Oracle systems such as Oracle E-Business Suite foundation or Oracle 9i applications. Use this integration to automate workflows with Oracle systems, making document delivery pains a thing of the past. Application Integrations There is a second subset of integrations known as application integrations–a good example of this is fax servers interoperating with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. It can be thought of as production fax in reverse. They are similar however inasmuch as they both are considered automated application integrations–meaning the workflows (whether inbound or outbound related) are both unattended by personnel and thus fully automated. Fax servers should offer specific integrations to the most popular systems. Alternatively, fax servers should provide a comprehensive set of custom integration tools to build integrations ad hoc. Inbound fax documents and their metadata can be delivered outside of the fax server where a multitude of applications can access these documents and their metadata. Preferably, a fax server would have pre-built integrations for leading document management applications to send existing documents, create a new document as a fax, and drag and drop a document into the explorer view of the fax library. Search for fax servers with pre-built ECM integrations with: · Microsoft SharePoint® · IBM FileNet® · OpenText eDOCS · OpenText Content Server And finally, many organizations have built custom integrations for their in-house applications to interface with their fax servers. Most fax server providers offer a complete suite of integration tools like APIs, SDKs, and command languages to get the jobs done efficiently. Custom integrations require that a fax server offer a suite of tools including XML, JAVA, COM and advanced Web Services. Integrating a fax server solution with ERP, ECM and other back-end applications is one of the most efficient uses of fax server capabilities. Understanding your integration needs will help you evaluate and choose the right fax server for you. Coming up next – Choosing the right fax server: Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents. 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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Don’t let document delivery be the bottleneck in workflow processes

Enterprises invest in highly sophisticated information systems to harness data and information within a company. Back-office automation systems, such as ERP, ECM, vertical and various other business applications, have provided a distinct advantage for the companies that deploy them. These programs are designed to handle everything from a one-to-one communication to massive one-to-many batch-produced documents. These systems turn data into invoices, purchase orders, delivery confirmations and statements of any kind. Modern business systems provide a competitive advantage for information-driven organizations by turning raw data into the documents that are critical to run operations and gain efficiency. These vastly complex business systems have transformed how information is managed and controlled, but these incredibly efficient systems can still have challenges: delivering this information quickly with a traceable receipt confirmation. Many organizations turned to manual faxing with fax machines as a delivery method that was much faster than postal mail or courier, far more secure than email, and provided a sent/received confirmation. However, manual faxing is a significant bottleneck in an otherwise efficient workflow process. Faxing with fax machines is time-consuming, expensive and prone to human error for employees to sort, send, and manage stacks and stacks of paper. And the sheer volume of documents that information systems produce quickly makes this manual process inefficient and a significant bottleneck in a workflow process. Production faxing eliminates the bottleneck of document delivery for business workflows Production faxing provides automated delivery of documents produced by business applications. A production fax solution captures large batches of raw print stream data generated typically from host systems, renders it a faxable electronic image, distributes the document via fax, email, certified email or print and creates customized reports, including notifications for delivery confirmation. It removes the bottleneck of delivering workflow documents by delivering documents fully automated and unattended, which makes this delivery method very efficient and cost effective. Production fax operations eliminate repetitive, batch-oriented processes by automating document delivery from back-end, legacy and host applications. This eliminates the manual paper shuffling and envelope stuffing that most batch processes require. Fax-enable back office applications: Business applications produce data can be integrated with a production fax solution to automatically and intelligently send documents as a fax. Document assembly and preprocessing: Production fax integrations integrate with back-end systems and assemble the content in templates or forms, customizable depending on the business need. The document and its content are assembled and ready to be faxed. Automatic document delivery: Production faxing provides unattended, real-time delivery of business documents. No paper shuffling. No envelope stuffing. No human error. Document tracking, notifications and reporting: Production fax operations send documents electronically and securely as faxes, automatically delivering the business documents that run your organization. Get notifications of transmissions and run detailed reports on all transmissions and fax traffic history.

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Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World

Today’s world of regulatory compliance is hard to keep up with. Regulatory standards regarding information security in particular are always changing and very complex. They also apply to multiple industries like Sarbanes-Oxley for financial services, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for healthcare. In fact, even private entities are instituting their own standards such as the Payment Card Industry Security Council’s Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). Did you know that organizations are relying on enterprise fax solutions to help comply with these various standards? Well they are, and it’s because these regulations are related to privacy around paper and electronic information housed in large enterprises. Think about it. Your average large organization is circulating an abundance of paper documents, faxes, emails and other office correspondence. This information is usually stored in file cabinets, employee desk drawers, on desktop PCs, servers, or archived in file boxes located offsite. Finally, as enterprises focus on going paperless to streamline costs, it’s becoming more difficult to control all this information. This means you need highly sophisticated information security and privacy processes. Fax software and services are a good way to accomplish this. Enterprise fax implementations drive security by reducing paper intensive processes while providing centralized document delivery and storage hubs. In addition, enterprise class fax solutions provide added information protection with encrypted delivery options to reduce risk around confidential information falling into the wrong hands. Overall in most cases a fax provider’s security features include: · Centralized document and tamper resistant document delivery · Integrated document management processes · System backup to preserve data in the event of service degradation · Secure storage and retrieval of documents for legal discovery · Automatic document tracking that satisfy audit trail requirements · Electronic fax repositories t o help manage critical documents from beginning to end As you can see, there are a lot of options as enterprise fax software and solutions have multiple capabilities designed to foster data security and reduce compliance risks. As new regulations arise, it’d be a good idea to investigate fax technology to help enhance your organization’s security and compliance position. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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Recovering from Fax Disaster

We work in a world where business never stops. The required velocity of today’s transactions doesn’t lend itself to downtime, particularly for fax. Think about it. Suppose you’re processing customer orders or exchanging legal documentation via fax, ask yourself, can you afford a halt in operations, even for a short period of time? What if you operate on a global scale? It’s simply too risky. Just thinking about it is enough to keep your IT department up at night. Organizations need built-in measures that immediately address potential fax service disruptions like unexpected, adverse weather conditions or other acts of nature. There are a couple of ways to help circumvent service degradation issues like this. If on-site control of fax operations is preferred, then investing in regional data centers and geographically dispersed back-up systems is one option. It’s an expensive one, and the implementation requirements are strict as you have to guarantee that back-up components mirror your primary ones. Another way is to partner with a cloud fax service provider with a proven track record of effectively managing disaster recovery, both in a hybrid or fully on-premises fax environment. An enterprise cloud fax service provider should offer a highly capable disaster recovery environment; this means offering a network infrastructure that minimizes risks, costs, and duration of system failure by: maintaining redundant facilities optimized for driving high availability having an experienced and responsive incident management team to monitor fax systems immediately notifying customers of any fax performance issues or service disruptions For instance, an enterprise class disaster recovery platform should consist of a network of high availability components, diverse telecom arrangements and multiple data center locations. Providers should design the platform to ensure that for every “point of failure” there is a redundant component capable of keeping fax applications up and running. The incident management team will support the proper implementation of the disaster recovery procedures, monitor the system regularly, as well as notify customers of any disruptions; this gives your stakeholders ample opportunity to understand why disruptions have occurred and what their options for re-directing their fax traffic are. Disaster recover isn’t something you want left up to chance. Downtime and the associated delivery issues not only hurt business cycle times, but can lead to security breaches as well. In the next Blog post, I’ll cover fax security and compliance, particularly the protocols necessary for keeping fax transmissions fully protected and compliant with the latest records keeping mandates. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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Choosing the right fax server: Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations

Companies that rely on paper-based faxing with fax machines know how time-consuming, costly and frustrating it can be. A fax server turns formerly paper-based faxing (with a fax machine) into electronic-based faxing (with a fax server). It essentially takes the “paper” out of faxing, whenever possible. A fax server can integrate with a variety of desktop environments and email systems so that an employee can send and receive fax documents directly from their computer, without ever touching a fax machine. Worker efficiency is greatly improved as they are able to manage faxes directly from familiar system interfaces which will reduce learning times. EMAIL INTEGRATIONS – Send a FAX from email clients · One of the greatest efficiency gains for fax server users is their ability to send, receive, and manage faxes within their existing email client. That’s why it’s important to make sure that, at the very least, the fax server is compatible with any SMTP email server, such as Google Apps™, Office 365™, Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes®. · For the richest user experience within the email clients, some fax server providers offer specific connectors for the most popular business email applications, such as Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes. This connector enhances the faxing experience within these email clients, adding a “send a fax” button on toolbars or pre-populating fax forms for easy faxing from the email client. MULTI-FUNCTION PRINTER (MFP) INTEGRATION – Scan a document and send a FAX from MFPs · MFP integrations are especially important if there is a paper document that needs to be faxed. By scanning the document on a connected MFP, the scanned copy becomes an electronic document that can then be sent via the fax server. The use of multi-function printers is growing, and organizations can significantly benefit from faxing with MFPs – via a native or universal connection to the fax server. Ideal applications include scan-to-fax, auto-print upon receipt of a fax when paper-based processes are still required. · Most fax servers connect to MFP devices via a universal SMTP connector. However, if MFP device printing is an important part of a workflow or business process, consider fax servers which provide a two-way, personalized experience at the MFP. This is achieved when the user logs into the device or swipes a badge for identification. The user then has access to their personal fax coversheets, phonebooks, fax history, etc. It is a much richer experience for the user and keeps their fax history in their personal faxing audit log. DESKTOP: Fax using dedicated fax software interface · Windows client: A fax server should come with the option to install a desktop application just for managing fax documents. This desktop client is used to create, send, receive, route, and forward faxes. For users who require more control over their faxing or for mission critical processes, choose a fax server that offers a fully-featured fax application that has the look and feel of an email system, including an inbox for its users or groups. · Web client application: Alternatively, seek a fax server that offers a fully-featured workflow tool that allows end users and administrators to access the server remotely from a web browser via the internet. Make sure that the web client application is compatible with the web browsers (Internet Explorer®, Chrome™, Firefox®, Safari®, etc.) and operating systems (Windows, Mac®, etc.) that the users of your organization utilize. DESKTOP: Fax directly from Windows® environments · Print-to-fax: Send a fax from any Windows-based application such as Microsoft Office, select “File” then “Print.” This allows a user to select the fax server, just like selecting a network printer. · Send to fax: While exploring in Windows (folders, etc.), simply “right-click” a file and select “Send To Fax”. · Windows tray icon: Open a Windows Tray Icon to send quick faxes, broadcast faxes or link to external phone books to streamline sending. The most widely used, secure way to send information isn’t by email, postal mail, or courier. It’s by fax. And there are ways to send a fax in 30 seconds or less from desktop applications, email applications and MFP devices. Understanding these options is an important step in evaluating fax servers and determining which fax server features are important to you. You can now move on to evaluating the next key capability of a fax server – Choosing the right fax server: Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations. Look for these articles to assist you in choosing the right fax server for your organization: 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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Generating Documents in the Cloud: 3 Reasons for BIRT PowerDocs

More and more businesses are using cloud-based software to manage their documents commonly needed for daily business. Such documents typically include quotes, invoices, service documents and contracts. The processes for generating documents in the cloud are usually handled manually or using native functionality of the cloud software. Basic functionality limits users and businesses Common documents vary from simple business letters to highly complex, multi-page documents. The more complex the document, the more frequently users experience limitations with native basic functionality of the cloud document generation solutions. Technically, the native mail merge functionality is quite limited – data from only one object can be referred to in parallel with common information about the contact. Publishing options are also limited: for example, documents can only be generated in Word format. In addition, these documents cannot be automatically combined with other Word documents and templates. Sending options often include only an option to download to the local computer. But the biggest problem with the native mail merge functionality is that it is not flexible enough to implement all customer requirements or customer processes. Scripting is (not) a solution Many cloud providers are aware of the technical limitations of generating documents in the cloud and therefore recommend the use of individual extensions. By developing such extensions, one can expand the basic functionality of the applications. This, however, calls for custom software development, a significant risk factor for the project success. Through scripting, certain objects (e.g. from the area of quote in offer management) can be synchronized with other objects (e.g. from the area of an opportunity). This feature is useful for many application cases and is especially well suited for proper administration and maintenance of selected products for a business transaction. In addition, in some cases editors can also be developed to enable template creation. Nevertheless, these extensions cannot compete with the flexibility and range of formatting options found in Microsoft Word or Excel. Therefore, it is usually impossible to add the existing documents of the customer to the cloud. Therefore, this leaves out of scope an important requirement of businesses switching their processes to the cloud. Upgrade through apps: BIRT PowerDocs Due to these limitations and deficiencies, we developed an application for document creation in the cloud – BIRT PowerDocs. This application is fully integrated with customer environments and is based on technology and platform of major cloud providers. BIRT PowerDocs offers users a significant upgrade from the basic functionality of cloud solutions. The advantages include: ability to publish documents in various formats, such as Microsoft Word, PDF, etc.; the option to refer to data from several objects at the same time; multi-channel delivery capabilities to distribute documents via e-mail, SMS, fax etc.; easy use of electronic signatures. These features make the complex world of documents easier to control. Flexibility, variety of options and powerful formatting possibilities allow for a smooth transition to document generation in the cloud. More information on BIRT PowerDocs.

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Choosing the right fax server: What is the business need?

Many organizations begin their quest to implement a fax server based on a business need that is driving the project. This goes beyond your boss telling you to “Go out and find us a fax server – stat.” Usually, you’ll be asked, “What is your business need?” but you should also consider, “What is your business pain?” Understanding the “business pain” is an important first step. Ask yourself if you have these typical business pains regarding faxing: · Do I have to reduce costs by eliminating fax machines? · Do I need to increase productivity by making it easier for employees to fax? · Do I need a faster way to process incoming faxes? · Do I exchange sensitive and private information that needs to be secure and protected? · Is faxing a bottleneck in a workflow or business process? Once you’ve identified your business pain(s), it can sometimes make it easier to then identify how you will use the fax server: the business need. This is important to evaluating the capabilities that you will need in a fax server. Understanding how fax is used is key to choosing the best fax server for your organization. Here are some questions to consider: · How do my users need to fax – from desktop applications, MFPs, inside email applications?  Tip: Determining the “source” of the content will help identify the most efficient way to fax the information. · Is there a business process or workflow involving fax that can be more efficient with a fax server? Tip: Identify the workflow/business process and the line of business owner/stakeholder. · Has the line of business owner/stakeholder mapped how fax documents flow in and out of this business process or workflow? Tip: Interview the line of business owner/ stakeholder to see how the process works today and how it would ideally look with a fax server implementation. Map out the flow of fax documents (inbound and outbound) to see where efficiency,  productivity and cost savings can be gained. · What types of applications need to be integrated with fax? Tip: Make a list of all of the back-end applications that are part of a workflow or business process for fax (ERP, CRM, document management, etc.) and any vertical application systems (software specifically developed for healthcare, legal, financial, etc.). Do users need to fax from applications such as Microsoft Office? Do you need to integrate fax with your existing email application? The more comprehensive the list, the better prepared you will be to evaluate fax server capabilities. Now that you’ve identified and documented business needs and how fax is used in your organization, you can now move on to evaluating the next key capability of a fax server – Choosing the right fax server: Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations. 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance

So, you’ve decided (or been mandated) to migrate fax operations to the cloud? It’s a big step, not unlike other IT migrations. You’ll need to understand how the onboarding cloud platform works in conjunction with your desired application; in this case, how your organization will manage faxing in the new cloud environment. Whether you’re replacing fax hardware entirely or cloud-enabling aspects of your on-premises fax infrastructure, understand successful implementation depends on how well you leverage the cloud’s unique capabilities in conjunction with enterprise fax applications. One of the first things to ask is whether or not the cloud fax provider features a robust network based on multi-tenant cloud architecture. Considering the business critical nature regarding the ability to fax from your specific applications in a unique environment, that answer should be “yes.” The network should also support connections to multiple telephone carriers, a concept known as carrier diversity. In other words, it should ensure consistent fax uptime across geographic borders by utilizing multiple connectivity options and points of presence to support disaster recovery, redundancy and failover. This also underscores the provider’s ability to scale out fax operations according to your specific volume requirements without the need to pay for excess capacity. Other architectural components to look for are: a platform that allows simple integration of your unique desktop fax applications an environment that offers additional fax document workflow options such as automatic capture and notifications 24 x 7 customer support and operations monitoring Service Level Agreements (SLAs) guaranteeing specific network performance requirements These are simply the basics, as every fax implementation is different. However when making the leap to the cloud for managing your enterprise faxing, the above represents the bare essentials you can’t overlook. In the next installment I’ll dig deeper into how cloud fax architecture and performance directly impact the concept of disaster recovery. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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Choosing the right fax server: How to evaluate and choose anenterprise-grade fax server solution

When organizations want to make faxing operations an efficient part of their business processes or workflows, they turn to an enterprise fax server to boost efficiency and productivity by increasing the speed of transmitting, routing, and processing faxed documents. Understanding the features and functionality of enterprise fax servers is an important step in choosing a solution that is best for your organization. This series of articles can be used as a decision support tool for organizations planning to choose and implement an on-premises, enterprise-grade fax server solution. It is designed to help evaluate business needs and develop a foundation of criteria for choosing the optimal fax server application. The future articles below will outline eight basic fundamentals of what enterprise fax servers must do to meet the rigorous demands of today’s document-centric businesses. 1. What is the Business Need? – The first step in evaluating enterprise fax servers is to determine the business need for a fax server within your organization. This will help shape how you evaluate the subsequent key capabilities of a fax server. 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations – Enterprise faxing solutions must provide company-wide users the ability to send, receive, and manage faxes from virtually all user-based desktop systems. 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations – Choose a fax server which has the ability to fax-enable any application that generates documents that are part of a workflow or automated business process. 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents – The ideal fax solution would provide several options for routing inbound faxes with notifications and audit trail available for every document touch point. Also, for long-term storage, a fax archiving option should be available to offload and store documents for as long as you need them. 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance – An on-premises fax server solution should help with compliance initiatives by providing a secure solution for managing all fax documents. The solution must offer various features and capabilities that help organizations achieve privacy and security standards. 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery – Identify an enterprise fax solution that can deploy in high-availability scenarios. Look for a solution that can provide disaster recovery options over multiple site locations. 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools – Key to the success of any fax server implementation is the administration and management of the system. Choose a fax server which provides comprehensive guides and tools to make the administration of the fax server as efficient as possible. 8. Telephony Compatibility – Choose a solution that can operate 100% in-house and/or as a hybrid solution – or a combination of both. Make sure that the fax server software is compatible with your telephony equipment, if applicable. Watch for the first topic: Choosing the right fax server: What is the business need?

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What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class

Think (wish) fax is going away? It’s not! In fact, many large organizations are still faxing in high volumes, particularly those in the healthcare, financial services and supply chain sectors. However the number of faxes these industries manually transmit have employees wasting valuable time printing documents, walking to standalone fax machines, dialing numbers, hitting send and waiting for confirmations. In addition, the costs of toner, paper and other supplies necessary to maintain fax operations waste money. In order to overcome the waste of time and money associated with manual faxing, enterprises began leveraging on-premises fax software implementations that enabled faxing from the computer desktop. But on-premises software requires capital investment and IT resources to keep these implementations running – two things many organizations are also trying to reduce. So now many enterprises are taking another step and investigating cloud fax services. Instead of investing in on-premises fax implementations, organizations are cloud enabling their fax infrastructure to drive efficiencies wherever possible – whether it be telephony costs, disaster recovery, scalability, or for testing new applications. There are many cloud fax service providers claiming to offer “enterprise-class” cloud fax services. With so many vendors out there, it’s hard to tell if they’re enterprise class or not. To help make the determination, an enterprise-class cloud fax service provider should feature the following: sophisticated architecture and performance comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans security and compliance controls flexible platforms that support a variety of integrations 24/7 administrative services worldwide network track record of servicing organizations on a global scale While the above doesn’t tell the whole story, it speaks to the beginning of the tale. We recommend you carefully vet potential cloud fax service providers based on these points. Overlooking them will likely lead to a series of costly backtracks for your organization. This is the first in a series of blog posts about what makes a cloud fax service enterprise class. In the next post I’ll talk about what to look for in cloud architecture and performance to support large enterprises. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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Advantage Technologies blogs about fast, secure faxing

Excerpt: With some industry experts stating that at least 16 billion faxes are sent globally each year, faxing is still a reality in 2014. Faxing is considered to be one of the most secure methods of exchanging information, as it is a secure, point-to-point communication between the sender and the receiver. Also, fax transmissions are immune to viruses and malware. The problem is that traditional faxing is not often considered to be a quick or cost-effective method of exchanging information. Furthermore, there is still a security risk when using a physical fax machines, as a document may be viewed by an unauthorized person. Read More at: http://www.atechnologies.com/component/content/article/17-blogs/rightfax/293-fast,-secure-faxing-via-email-and-rightfax.html

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What Happens in Europe, Stays in Europe

As companies adopt new disruptive technologies such as mobile and cloud computing, many countries have begun to develop new information compliance standards and regulations. As a result, the geographic location of stored information has become a growing concern for companies in countries that have such regulatory or legislative requirements. As a result OpenText’s recently launched the European Data Zone for its end-to-end cloud fax services. The OpenText European Data Zone, based in the UK, now provides OpenText Fax2Mail, OpenText Production Messaging, and OpenText RightFax Connect customers with complete fax handling that includes message rendering and processing in addition to delivery of cloud fax messages. Customers concerned about data sovereignty issues can have their accounts provisioned to the European data center to ensure their data is handled entirely within Europe. To read the press release in its entirety, click here.

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What’s the Difference Between Van Morrison and a Value Added Network?

Well put simply one is still doing the same thing they were doing more than forty five years ago and the other has evolved into something very different, but which is which? When I was a child, my parents were constantly playing Van Morrison music in the background whilst I was trying to build intricate engineering models with my Meccano set! In fact the late sixties were quite busy with Van Morrison launching what was to be a very successful solo career, the first EDI messages started to be exchanged and I was born around this time as well. When I joined GXS back in early 2006 I was introduced to the world of hub and spoke communities and Value Added Networks but this was at a time when the company was busy repositioning itself into something very different. After I joined GXS I started to hear terms such as the company being ‘more than just a VAN’ and as soon as I heard the VAN acronym I had flashbacks to when my parents were playing Van Morrison records, may be it was because the name ‘Van’ had been so engrained in my mind from a very early age! Anyway time moves on, GXS has evolved and under new ownership of OpenText™, the world’s largest provider of Enterprise Information Management solutions, Trading Grid™, as our B2B network is called, is going to evolve still further and will strengthen the link between the internal and external enterprise. Moving EDI messages from one mail box to another is still part of our business, however the key growth area is our Managed Services offering and this is perfectly timed with the global interest in moving to cloud based services as a way to develop leaner, more scalable IT infrastructures. OpenText™ Trading Grid™ is essentially a network, something that our company has offered for many years and it helps to connect companies together to allow them to undertake business with each other. Trading Grid™ provides the single entry point into an enterprise and allows you to connect to many different external trading partners. So using this analogy Trading Grid™ is a business or B2B Network, not just any B2B network but one that is processing more than 16billion transactions each year. Once connected to Trading Grid™, companies can potentially connect with over 600,000 other businesses that are also making use of this network today. The former GXS company now sits under a business unit called Information Exchange and this business unit includes services such as Secure Messaging and Rightfax solutions to name but a few. The most staggering number shown below is the amount of commerce being transacted across Trading Grid over a one year period. So in the same way that Van Morrison’s music was initially released on records, you can now download a complete digital set of his music from Apple’s iTunes, in the world of EDI, the Trading Grid™ network has evolved into offering cloud based B2B integration services. This is significant progression in my mind! In my last blog post I discussed how companies can get more out of a B2B Network and during my keynote presentation at EDIFICE I cited several examples of different consumer and business networks. The so called ‘Network Effect’ is transforming how both people and companies communicate with each other. From personal networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, through to consumer networks or eco-systems which offer multiple services from with an environment such as iTunes or Google. Finally there are business networks such as industry specific ones such as Exostar and then B2B networks such as OpenText™ Trading Grid™. People have become use to connecting to a network and then using different services that reside on these particular networks. In the case of Trading Grid™, these additional services could be processing invoices across each of the 28 countries that make up the European Union, connecting to global banks via our SWIFT Bureau service, tracking the lifecycle of business transactions, through to managing the day to day collaboration between potentially thousands of trading partners and then providing direct integration with back office business systems such as SAP and SAGE. Three years ago I saw the above image posted on the internet which highlighted all the interactions between different users on Facebook over a fixed period of time. As you can see, all the Facebook interactions neatly define a map of the world. Given that I look after the industry marketing for the manufacturing vertical at OpenText™, I was curious to see the type of network that could be formed by companies connected to Trading Grid™. For the purposes of the graphic below, I have removed the names of the companies but it quickly became apparent that if an automotive supplier is connected to Trading Grid™ then they would be able to undertake B2B with virtually any of their trading partners located anywhere in the world. I won’t bore you with the details on all the individual B2B solutions used by these companies but once I created the above diagram, using a very small subset of our overall automotive customer base, there were some interesting observations. North American companies were very keen to try move towards using cloud based services (represented by the Managed Service, MS icon), European companies were keen on using their own home grown B2B platforms combined with our messaging platform, Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) and the Japanese companies were moving away from behind the firewall B2B solutions to cloud based services. The Japanese observation was probably as a result of the recent natural disasters that have impacted the country and their desire to spread their production risk around the world. In fact the automotive industry is truly global in nature and when OEMs move into a new country such as Mexico, their key suppliers are expected to move quickly into the country with them. Only a cloud based B2B infrastructure can provide this level of flexibility and scalability. As I highlighted in an earlier blog relating to the Internet of Things (IoT), the B2B network as we know it today is going to evolve still further. For example information from billions of connected devices across the supply chain will provide an end to end view of shipments that we have never experienced before. So just when today’s CIOs have started to embrace Cloud, Mobile, Big Data and Social Networks, along comes the IoT, considered by many as one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. Needless to say OpenText™ will embrace these disruptive technologies as part of our 2020 Digital Agenda and we will help guide CIOs through this period of significant ‘Digital Disruption’. So if you would like to learn why our B2B network is significantly more than just a VAN, then please visit our website for more information on Trading Grid™ and our future 2020 Digital Agenda. So just in case you haven’t worked out by now, after 45 years Van Morrison is still producing music and it is the EDI VAN that has evolved into a cloud based B2B Network. In closing it is interesting that Van Morrison’s latest album is called ‘Born to Sing’, a bit like Trading Grid, ‘Born to do B2B’

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Getting the Most from Your B2B Network

Two weeks ago I was on a Eurostar train bound for Brussels. I was attending the 122nd EDIFICE plenary, a high tech industry association that GXS™ has been involved with for more than 25 years. EDIFICE works with leading high tech companies to develop best practices and new standards for deploying B2B solutions and services across the high tech supply chain. I have been attending EDIFICE events for the past six years and I have found the sessions to be incredibly informative in terms of understanding the B2B challenges faced by today’s high tech industry but also to allow me to network and share experiences with companies such as HP, Cisco, Infineon, Texas Instruments and Xilinx. In fact the attendee list for these events quite often reads like a who’s who in the high tech industry. For more information on EDIFICE, please visit www.edifice.org. Each member company of the EDIFICE community is invited to sponsor plenary events and on this occasion OpenText™ GXS™ had the pleasure of hosting the event with a theme of ‘Getting the Most from Your B2B Network’. I have presented at several EDFICE events in the past but this event provided me with the first opportunity to introduce OpenText, a company that very few people in the audience had heard of before. I delivered the key note presentation for the event and this allowed me to introduce the world of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) and how this is likely to impact the world of B2B moving forwards. In the future, companies will be able to get even greater value from their B2B network due to the availability of powerful EIM solutions from OpenText. So what I wanted to do for this particular keynote presentation was to explain how companies could get more out of their B2B platform, ie once connected to a B2B Network such as OpenText™ Trading Grid™, what could you do with the B2B information flowing across the network, either internally or externally across the extended enterprise. I also wanted to demonstrate that a B2B network can be used for a lot more than just exchanging EDI messages. So with this in mind I thought I would just recap the ten points that I discussed during my keynote presentation to highlight how companies, when connected to a global B2B network, can get more out of their platform: 1. Enabling 100% Trading Partner Connectivity – In order to get a good return on the investment in your B2B network you need to make sure you can electronically enable 100% of your trading partner community. Many companies struggle to on board their smallest suppliers who are quite often located in emerging markets where ICT and B2B skills are limited. OpenText has a range of B2B enablement tools that can help a business to exchange electronic business information, irrespective of the size or location of the supplier. From sending PDF based business documents via secure messaging/MFT, implementing Fax to EDI based solutions, through to Microsoft Excel based tools and web forms, there are many tools available today to help a company onboard their smallest suppliers. 2. Simplify Expansion into New Markets – Many companies today are introducing lean and more flexible supply chains to allow them to be more responsive to constantly changing market and customer demands. Many companies struggle to establish a presence in a new market, either because they do not have a local presence in the market or they do not know how to connect a remote operation, in terms of a plant and its domestic suppliers, to a centralised B2B platform. The benefit of a cloud based platform such as OpenText™ Trading Grid™ is that you can scale up or scale down your B2B activities as required by the needs of the business. With over 600,000 companies conducting business across Trading Grid today and a B2B network which stretches into every major manufacturing and financial hub around the world, Trading Grid significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to establish a ‘B2B Presence’ in a remote market. Even if you currently work across multiple network providers in different countries around the world, consolidating onto one cloud based provider can certainly help to improve the bottom line for your business. 3. Overcoming Regional Complexity Issues – Many businesses today are required to adhere to various regional compliance regulations. For example the area of e-Invoicing compliance is an incredibly complex area that companies have to embrace. For example some countries such as Mexico and Brazil mandate electronic invoicing whilst each of the 27 countries in the European Union have country specific rules for dealing with VAT compliance, archiving and applying digital signatures. OpenText GXS has implemented B2B projects all over the world and hence we have the experience to shield your business from the complexity of dealing with a myriad of regional specific B2B standards and e-Invoicing related regulations. 4. Improving Accuracy of Externally Sourced Information – If you spend $50,000 on a luxury car with a high performance engine, you wouldn’t pour low grade oil into the engine now would you? The same applies to a B2B platform, where information entering the platform can come from many internal and external sources. In fact in one study conducted a few years ago we found that over a third of information entering ERP comes from outside the enterprise. Now what happens if poor quality information enters your B2B platform, gets processed and then enters your ERP environment? All it takes is for an external supplier to enter the incorrect part number or quantity on a shipping document for example and this information will slowly propagate its way through your business. What if you could implement business rules to check the quality of information entering your business according to specific rules templates? Applying business rules and hence improving the quality of B2B information will help to improve operational efficiency, in terms of reducing manual rework, in relation to how information flows across your extended enterprise. 5. Increasing Resilience to Supply Chain Disruptions – Global supply chains have been severely disrupted by many natural disasters in recent years. Companies have been trying to build increased resilience to supply chain disruptions and having access to a single, global B2B platform can help minimise supply chain disruption. Utilising a cloud based platform allows companies to access their B2B related information anywhere in the world, irrespective of where disruption may be occurring. For example many Japanese companies are starting to embrace cloud based B2B platforms as it helps to introduce flexibility into their B2B strategies and also minimises any disruption to their supply chain and production operations. Having every trading partner connected to a single, global B2B network allows you to quickly identify points of weakness across your supply chain during a period of disruption and to take remedial action as required. 6. Adhering to Regulatory Compliance Initiatives – Businesses today have to embrace a variety of industry specific regulatory initiatives. In addition, many companies have established their own compliance initiatives and they expect their trading partners to adhere to these regulations. In many cases suppliers are being asked to adhere to these compliance initiatives as a condition of doing business with them. In the automotive industry suppliers have to undertake an annual quality assessment known as Materials Management Operations Guideline Logistics Evaluation (MMOG/LE) and in the high tech industry companies with headquarters in North America now have to demonstrate that they do not source conflict minerals across their global supply chain. Many compliance related initiatives in place today require some form of assessment to be conducted across a supply chain and the two examples I highlighted above use spreadsheets as the basis of the assessment process. However for this assessment to be effective, companies require up to date contacts for each and every supplier across their supply chain and they need to make sure these assessments are conducted in a timely manner. OpenText GXS can provide a platform that can centralise the management of supplier related contact information, which in turn helps to significantly improve day to day communications and collaboration with a trading partner community. 7. Conducting Transaction Based Trading Partner Analytics – One of the benefits of operating the world’s largest B2B networks is that it can potentially provide a significant source of data to analyse trading partner related trends. As we know, Big Data analytics is becoming an increasingly important area for companies to embrace, but quite often they do not have the internal skills or knowledge to process the information or transactions flowing across their supply chain. OpenText Trading Grid processes over 16 billion B2B transactions each year and this can potentially provide a rich source of information for companies to leverage and allow real time decisions to be made in relation to the management of their supply chain operations. 8. Initiating Process Based Transaction Flows – Many companies have implemented numerous business processes to manage different aspects of their operations. From managing production lines through to inventory replenishment, having a strong process centric approach to running a business is key to winning a competitive advantage in the market and increasing customer satisfaction levels. B2B related transactions have sometimes had a loosely coupled relationship with business processes but many supply chain processes are becoming so complicated today, especially supporting global manufacturing operations for example, that coupling business processes more tightly with B2B transaction flows makes increasingly more sense. For example, managing transactions relating to a reverse logistics process used in the consumer electronics sector. OpenText has significant experience in the Business Process Management space and when eventually combined with OpenText Trading Grid this could potentially offer a different way for supply chain directors and logistics managers to look after their trading partner communities. It is still early days in the OpenText and GXS integration process but this could be a big growth area in the future. 9. Achieving Pervasive Visibility of all Transactions – Achieving true end to end visibility has been high on the agenda of nearly every Supply Chain professional around the world. The introduction of powerful smart phones and tablets has only increased the desire to get access to B2B related transactional information, any time, any place or anywhere. It is already possible to introspect transactions as they flow across OpenText Trading Grid, but the next logical phase would be to make these transactions actionable in some way via a remote device. OpenText has an interesting suite of mobile development tools called Appworks which will help to considerably accelerate the development of B2B related apps which connect into the Trading Grid platform. 10. Integrating to ‘Internet of Things’ Devices – The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to completely transform the way in which companies manage their supply chains in the future. With billions of intelligent devices expected to be connected to the Internet over the next decade, companies will have access to significantly more information from their global supply chains. From IoT connected storage bins, forklift trucks, containers, warehouses, lorries and in fact anything that is part of a supply chain has the potential to send information back to a centralised IoT hub via a simple internet connection. In the same way that we talk today about integrating B2B platforms to ERP systems, tomorrow we will be doing the same level of integration to IoT related hubs. This is a subject that I have discussed extensively via an earlier blog of mine.

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Still Faxing? Of course you are!

OpenText recently published an infographic on 9 Reasons Businesses Still Fax. You can see the full size version here . The bottom line is that fax still has a unique combination of characteristics that hasn’t fully been replaced. You might find multiple technologies that cover the same 9 reasons – but fax is the one technology that accomplishes all nine. I think my favorite characteristic is that fax transmissions are immune to viruses and malware. Because a fax is an image – you can’t get malware by saving and viewing a fax. Try that with email! Read more about OpenText fax solutions here .

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