Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

Summary: Now that we've moved to VOIP and unified messaging, it's time to finally bury the fax machine and get some real online document and information management tools.

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It's 2012. Many of us who have become mobile or home based-workers are now enjoying the benefits of VOIP and unified messaging services which allow us to have access to our voicemails and texts from all of our devices, including our desktops/laptops, smartphones and tablets.

And for those of us who use Google Voice, it also provides us with the benefit of only having to give out one phone number to our family and business associates, on which we have fine levels of control to screen or block calls. Google Voice is a wonder service, and I'm not sure how I ever got along without it before.

Still, Google Voice doesn't do everything I want it to do. While it has done wonders for integrating all the VOIP and voicemail and text stuff, it hasn't done jack for my Fax activity. And it's driving me crazy.

Many of you may laugh that in this day in age that I still have to send or receive faxes. Fax is indeed a legacy technology which like snail mail of paper documents is dying. But it's not dying as quickly as one might think.

I still have a multifunction printer/scanner/fax device that I use a few times a month, which has to be connected to a dedicated POTS line.

A lot of these faxes are scanned, then printed before being sent over, mostly as expense reports receipts for batch processing and also sent as legal documents and other things to large businesses which still, for some reason, don't want to take take them by email.

While I've moved all my voice services to VOIP over my broadband Internet connection or to my mobile phone, that copper POTS line still has to be there.

While companies like OOMA try to make Fax compatible with their VOIP products, the analog/digital conversion technology is essentially best effort because the protocol for analog data transmission used by fax machines was never originally designed to be used over digital connections.

So you can't easily connect a Fax machine to a VOIP appliance like an OOMA or any other of the things you might get for VOIP service that you'd normally attach a regular old telephone handset/base station to or even dedicated VOIP handsets, such as the OOMA Telo.

Indeed, there are services such as eFax which allow you to throw out your fax machine and instead print/email to a fax number from your computer/mobile device, receive faxes over email, and which also includes viewer apps for PCs/Macs and even iOS and Android devices.

eFax is awesome for someone who runs a small business. But eFax costs at least $160.00 a year, and thats actually more expensive than it costs for me as a home-based/mobile employee to have an occasional-use MFD sitting on a desk attached to a POTS line.

And I'd hardly call eFax a fully integrated solution with my Google Voice.

Ideally, what I'd like to see is for Google Voice to have a fully-integrated fax and document management system. And yes, I'd actually pay for such a service. Maybe Google should buy eFax and possibly even Evernote and integrate it into Google Voice.

That would be a killer app in my opinion.

It could be said that this might be a waste of time for Google to do, since everyone is emailing just about everything. But I don't think email is necessarily a good solution for document management even if analog Fax goes the way of the dodo bird.

I actually thought Hewlett-Packard had the right idea with its "Digital Sender" concept they originated back in the mid 1990's. But it was a bit too ahead of its time, and the units were very expensive for what they did. But I liked the way they automatically turned things into PDF format and directly emailed them to a recipient or sent them as a printer batch job across a network.

GMail doesn't exactly make it easy to organize documents through its labeling system, you sort of have to hack it up for yourself. And while you can compartmentalize stuff into folders and share documents with other users, Google Docs isn't really suited towards an Inbox/Outbox sort of document workflow.

The two concepts of email and personal document/information management need to be merged somehow with the unified messaging services that we already use today.

Ideally I would like to see the Fax/Scan/Document management tied into Google Docs and Google Voice, so I have a single entry portal for organizing all my personal and business activities in the Cloud. Literally, a "Place for my Stuff" in Carlinesque fashion.

Do you need an online "Place for your stuff?" that isn't served by just basic email? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Unified Comms, Collaboration, Google, Networking, Telcos

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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31 comments
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  • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

    I agree WHOLE HEARTEDLY!!! Been dreaming of this for yrs.
    CDRoker1
    • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

      @CDRoker1 really? Fax? 21st century does not need fax!
      pupkin_z
  • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

    They should buy Pangea Comm. Corp., they do fax very very well... plus they have APIs for programmer to integrate fax services in applications/websites.
    e1ioan
  • And texting

    Seriously....texting.

    And let's fix the integration between pre-existing google #s and domains. I have many clients who do not want to get a new number for their existing domain now that google allows managed domains to have google voice.
    Your Non Advocate
  • I invite you to try FaxLogic

    Jason,<br><br>I share your frustration and I invite you to try FaxLogic (call me and I'll personally get you set up on a press eval). We've been in the fax and document management business for almost 20 years. We integrate seamlessly with GMail (and any other email system), offer a "desktop experience" web-based user interface (with no plug-ins or software to install), support true multi-user accounts and access control (for fax server replacement), and provide end-to-end AES encryption and layered security (for the HIPAA/GLBA/SOX crowd). Like eFax and other such providers, we support fax-to-email, email-to-fax, web-fax, on-line archiving, and have an API. Unlike them, we let you connect your existing analog fax machine or all-in-one to the Internet, seamlessly integrated with your FaxLogic account, so you can ditch that phone line. Unlike VoIP providers that are offering "best efforts" faxing over their networks (or don't support it at all), we built our systems and network specifically for fax, so we can offer industry leading SLAs of 99.9% availability, 99.999999999% durability, and 100% deliverability.<br><br>Regards,<br>Eric Lenington, CEO<br> FaxLogic, LLC<br>www.faxlogic.com<br>972-664-3800
    EricLenington
    • FaxLogic

      Hi Eric,

      Why don't you offer a virtual service for $1 or $2 a month and then charge like 50 cents a page for people who only get faxes every few month. It's way to much for me to pay $6 for something I need very rarely, but I'm willing to pay between $15 to $20 a year to have a stand-by service and then pay a per page fee on top of it.

      Regards
      auchegal
  • Fax? Why?? It is 2012, not 1980.

    Last I checked, you can EMAIL a document without the need to kill trees or waste ink. And if you need the document in paper ... just print it after receiving it.
    wackoae
    • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

      @wackoae Thank you, exactly. For those people still trying to use fax machines, I think it is time you booked yourself into the Shady Pines rest home for the elderly.
      ben.rattigan
      • Gosh, that's insightful

        Thanks to all you young whippersnappers for pointing out to me that I should just tell all my counterparties to just STFU and accept an emailed pdf document instead of their standard fax. Probably I should just do that with my employer's IT invoicing department as well.

        Seriously, if you are asking why I don't just decide by fiat to email instead of fax...do you have a job? Do you know what that entails?
        Michael Faraday
    • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

      @wackoae exactly. just ask kids younger than 20 if they know what faxes are....
      pupkin_z
    • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

      Content security is miserable with both Email and Fax -- however, I'm sure someone can argue quite well that Email has enormously poorer content security, compared to Fax.
      Force
    • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

      @wackoae Hi, no need to kill trees or waste ink while faxing....Instead of traditional fax machines you can use internet fax service providers as http://www.popfax.com.
      popfax
  • Faxing with Google Voice: It's Easy and It's Free!

    The new PBX in a Flash 2 (Asterisk-based open source PBX) coupled with Incredible Fax 2 works flawlessly with our included Google Voice GUI using regular Google Voice DIDs. And, of course, faxing is free in the U.S. and Canada!<br><br>Just install PIAF2 and set up one or more free Google Voice DIDs. Then run install-incredfax2. Done!

    If you prefer the old-fashioned way, buy a $50 OBiHai device and plug in a regular fax machine to get unlimited faxing with Google Voice.
    wmundy
  • Fax! Fax?

    .. really, who are these people using fax machines, come out a show yourselves. For everyone under the age of 25 please lookup the word fax on Wikipedia.
    ben.rattigan
    • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

      @ben.rattigan Some companies use electronic fax software to send and receive correspondence. It's generally pretty simple to use, and arguably more secure than email.
      Third of Five
  • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

    Yes, eFax became too expensive that is why I went with http://www.maxemail.com/ . For fax only it cost $24.00 a year. Not often used, however it does come in handy. Fax comes to my regular e-mail, also can send from computer and smartphone.
    BubbaJones_
  • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

    Check out PamFax - (pamfax.biz) worldwide sending - in five or six steps - and inbound number. Integrated with Dropbox, Box.net and Google Docs. Works from all PC's, iOS devices, Android. More at http://voiceontheweb.biz/referenceguide/hosted-services/pamfax-obligation-free-fax-worldwide-on-demand/
    jim.courtney@...
  • PamFax offers free API usage and very simple integration

    PamFax is available worldwide and already used by mobile carriers offering Google services to their users. Made in Germany. Use the API for free at http://www.pamfax.biz/en/developers/introduction and integrate a wealth of fax functionality into other applications and platforms. Supports Dropbox, Box and Google Docs natively and uses encrypted data transfers to keep your faxes safe.
    pamfax
  • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

    MMS support and an e-mail to SMS gateway would be more useful to me.
    sullivanjc
  • RE: Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!

    For a long time the suggestion to integrate fax with Google Voice was an automated choice at: http://support.google.com/voice/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=suggestions.cs where there are other suggestions you can click to also suggest (e.g. forwarding to International phone numbers, etc.). You may wish to join me with a message like:

    Please consider integrating fax services as in the recent article "Google, please integrate Fax and Document Management services into Voice!
    " at http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/google-please-integrate-fax-and-document-management-services-into-voice/19614?tag=nl.e539
    Ron_Ellis