An SMB out-with-the-old wish list

An SMB out-with-the-old wish list

Summary: If small-business professionals have their way, fax machines would be the first thing to go in 2014.


Fax machines top the list of aging technologies that small and midsize businesses would love to ditch or update in 2014, according to November survey of close to 1,600 SMB professionals conducted by cloud services company J2 Global.

It doesn't mean these companies are ready (or probably in many cases able) to give up dealing with faxes. It's just that 27 percent of them would love to move to an online fax service instead, J2's research found. 

Not far behind on the ditch list is offlce landline services: close to 23 percent of the survey respondents indicated that they would love to replace them with a virtual phone system and/or mobile phones.

What else would SMBs love to retire? Here's what else might not be long for the world, if SMBs find the money or desire to take action on these plans. Then again, it's easy to make a wish list.

  • Desktop computers (moving to laptops, tablets and smartphones) - 19 percent
  • Printers (planning on going paperless) - 19 percent
  • Accounting books (moving to accounting software) - 13 percent 
  • Cash registers (moving to digital payment solutions i.e. Square or PayPal) - 8 percent

The complete infographic cooked up by J2 Global is below:



Topic: SMBs

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  • fax machines... yeah, just get the medical industry & gov agencies off them

    Fax machines would have been dead long ago if not for them.
  • Unsurprising: Cloud company survey shows no perspective in those surveyed

    Faxes: Sure, an antiquated technology...but still a legal method of transmission; e-mailing does not work with court documents, HIPAA, and other such regulations. I'm up for some sort of replacement for fax technology, but I'm unaware of a mainstream protocol that makes it worthwhile...unless lawyers become the first to massively adopt Retroshare...

    Landline phones: Replaced with virtual phone system? This is unclear: are we talking about replacing Avaya PBX's and similar with something like Asterisk as a virtual machine? Or are we talking about ditching desk phones entirely and using software phones? Add in a USB/Bluetooth headset and you're back to still needing to be at your desk to make a phone call. Replacing with cell phones entirely sounds like a bad idea all around - is it really less expensive to pay for all your employees to have a second cell phone? Perhaps it's close depending on the size of the business, but even Ooma Business is cheaper than even two voice-only cell phone plans. The term is nebulous, but I don't see the complete removal of desk phones to be an all-around "good thing".

    Desktop computers: What survey of "old technology that needs to go" would be complete without saying that Desktop computers need go be replaced by tablets? A computer the age of a first-gen iPad is still perfectly serviceable, supported, and useable. A first gen iPad isn't. Data entry of any consequence still needs a keyboard, so now you're buying keyboards for those iPads. Look, I know they're shiny and all, and for certain industries I can see them as being a good complement. It doesn't mean that there aren't problems with the current tablet systems or that tablets are less expensive in plenty of cases.

    Printers: The paperless office has always been ten years away...largely because no two vendors can agree on a common protocol of any consequence. Printed records from 20 years ago are still perfectly legible. Digital records probably aren't - does anyone have a copy of Amiword loaded on a computer that still has a 5 1/4" floppy drive? That's what digital recordkeeping requires. Know what paper recordkeeping requires? Sunlight. So long as digital recordkeeping lacks the simplicity and universal readability of paper printouts, we will still need paper records.

    Accounting books: This one I do indeed concur with - digital bookkeeping has been a solved problem for well over a decade. The question I do have, though, is in conjunction with the rest of the options - are they doing ledgers exclusively on a tablet? In the cloud, I that really a good idea?

    Cash registers: ...Because it's a good idea for ANY small business to refuse to process a cash transaction. I don't foresee the lack of cash business to be a good idea except in niche industries. Without cash, they are beholden to Paypal, Square, Visa/Mastercard/Novus/Amex, or whoever else processes digital transactions...and you can't convince me that it is anything but a lack of perspective to put one's business in a position of being completely beholden to payment processors who have no incentive to /not/ have that 'processing fee' creep up by half a percent every year...

    If these guys don't want cash, or infinitely legible records, or their bases covered in a lawsuit, I'll be more than happy to take their business.

    • Floppies flop

      "does anyone have a copy of Amiword loaded on a computer that still has a 5 1/4" floppy drive?"

      If you stored any important information onto a floppy disk 10 years ago, even if you have the disk drive (and I do), entropy will have eroded your data into randomness.

      I wanted to grab some routines I had written 10 years ago, and the 3.5" floppy was to corrupted to be usable. However, the printouts I had made at the time were quite legible.
  • This SMB CEO thoughts

    1. Fax Machines. No need to get rid of the fax machine because we got rid of it years ago. Almost all of the fax machines of anyone I deal with are all-in-one fax/scanner/printer/modem. I tell people, "Scan it and email it to me."
    2. Landline service. Power is not very reliable out here. Everything is on UPSes and/or back-up generators. The cell towers only last 3 hours into a power failure which may last days. But through it all, the landline will still work. It's what we use when everything else fails do it stays.
    3. Desktop computers are not about to disappear. Sometimes, you want power and versatility instead of portability. My desktop system has 5 ethernet ports on it and I need all 5. I can't get that on a laptop. And I need a real ethernet port on my laptop, something which is increasingly hard to find.
    4. Printers. I have an industrial grade wide-carriage printer. It gets turned on about twice a year. I don't mind the printer so much as I mind that I need to turn it on twice a year to print out some paper downloaded off a website, print it, sign it, scan it, and upload it back to the same government web-site.
    5. Accounting books: We use QuickBooks. Hand me a piece of paper and tell me not to lose it, and it'll be lost within 5 minutes. Computers are the only way I can keep track of stuff.
    6. Cash Registers. While we do accept cash, we don't deal with the kind of transactions that require a cash register.

    What's the one thing I want to see stick around? Ethernet ports on computer equipment (i.e. laptops). Let's be realistic here. Ethernet is the hard wire that the internet runs over. It's not going away. Apple can say wired is old fashion all it wants, but this is a standard that's sticking around. You buy a new router, it has ethernet ports on it. To connect it to the internet, you plug an ethernet cable into one of those ports. The number one service call I get is to bring my netbook out to some cottage or hunt camp and configure the wireless on the client's router so it doesn't conflict with their neighbour, is reasonably protected from their neighbour stealing their internet, and so they can connect their iPad to it.

    And since no router company has built a touch display on their routers so you can configure them, you need an ethernet port. But no one said it needs to be RJ45. Don't like how bulky RJ45 is? No one like how bulkuy DVI was either so they created HDMI. Create a new, flatter standard for ethernet and build that into your computers. (I have an old carfdbus adapter for ethernet which took a dongle. That flat connector that clicked onto the card would have been a perfect standard for flat ethernet. Today, we can go flatter and smaller.)
  • printer first then fax

    you will never get rid of fax until you get rid of the printer first.

    but when you take up sending pdf over email the patent trolls will come after you.

    and them other guys ain't gonna junk their printers so you have to keep fax capability -- receive fax as pdf

    trouble is the dox ain't searchable unless you render received fax as pdf via ocr

    stuff people could actually use
  • The paperless office

    has been a pipe-dream forever. Been in this business for 30+ years and nobody has ever successfully mastered the paperless office. Oh, there maybe "some" offices that are close, but its just impossible not to need a scrap of paper to jot down a quick number or reminder.

    Printers are here to stay, but I sure hope inkjets are on the way out. Too expensive and most people don't understand how to keep them clean.
  • Nobody has pointed out who J2 Global is...

    ...or you might not put much stock in this so-called study. They are the company behind eFax, and other cloud services for businesses. So the supposed survey is just a highly directed marketing vehicle for the company's products.