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Everyone knows cloud solutions are innovating today’s IT environment – but cloud fax? Yes, cloud fax.

Gartner recently published a report “Five Emerging Use Cases to Drive Cloud Fax ROI” which reviews the rapid growth of cloud fax solutions. After having ‘discontinued’ coverage of the fax segment, frequency of customer inquiries and the increase in cloud fax volumes changed their minds. Of course, those in industries such as healthcare and financial services recognize that the value of fax communications has not diminished but increased. And the simplest evidence is the continued growth of fax volumes. Both Gartner and IDC cited research showing that fax volume continues to increase. We all know that fax is secure, stable, and ubiquitous but the Gartner article highlights the general benefits of cloud computing and then details use cases that can drive cloud fax ROI.

Two of the use cases cited are workflow and analytics/machine learning/AI. One of the reasons fax has had so much staying power is that it was built into core business processes over the past 40 years.To support this, Biscom has developed extensive workflow rules that help with OCR, data extraction, routing, and the overall document management process. It is these workflow rules that are the core of high-volume fax processing. In fact we have a customer that is faxing over 50 million documents a month using extensive workflow design. It’s no surprise that automation of fax workflows can both drive higher usage volumes and a strong ROI.

The other use case discussed is “Analytics/Machine Learning/AI.” The analytics Gartner reference focus on the automation of processing faxes, rather than reporting This functionality adds intelligence to the fax workflow. Specifically, having a fax come in, get scanned using OCR, and the following workflow rules to extract information and/or route the fax. Again, these support process automation by replacing manual tasks with software driven workflows.This also allows the process to scale while reducing manual interaction and cost. Anytime you can remove manual labor from a process, there should be a strong ROI. Of course, very few fax providers offer these sophisticated solutions, and fewer still offer these via a cloud fax solution.

The re-emergence of fax as a core business technology is not surprising, nor is the fact that Gartner is reporting on it. What is surprising is that, it has taken this long for analysts and the media to pay attention.

The full report is available at the Gartner website (subscription required).