His master’s fax

Voice mail changed the way I think about faxes.

When I returned from Paris recently, I opened my e-mail client and discovered my faxes (no big deal) and a voice-mail message attached to an e-mail (now that’s a big deal). I didn’t know, until then, that both faxes and voicemail could be received and managed from my e-mail client. That got me thinking that companies that are still spending money on fax and voicemail infrastructures are throwing away dollars and time. The ability to access voice mail and send and receive faxes via your e-mail in-box is so compelling a proposition that it might convince you to stop spending money on a stand-alone fax infrastructure.

That infrastructure can be extensive. Phone lines, phone support and servers cost money and take up time and space. In addition, your twentysomething IT geeks don’t want to be messing with fax systems, they’d rather be working on Web architecture.

Hollywood-based outsourcer J2 has 2000 corporate accounts and 30,000 end users. Here’s the technology behind the service it offers many of them: servers at one of J2’s 60 collocation sites receive faxes and answer calls. J2 translates fax images to TIFF files and voice mails to WAV files and then attaches the files to e-mails and forwards them to its customers.

With such Web-based management tools, you can centrally administer and provision fax numbers within minutes around the clock and around the globe.

Right now, outbound traffic is limited to 16MB, and inbound capacity is about 200 pages.

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