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Why AgenneBridgeTM Secure Document Transfer Suite?

Fax technology as we know it today has been around since 1964. Made commercially available in the early 1970's, faxing itself hasn’t changed much over the years – a paper document is turned into a low-resolution image, that image is transmitted over a telephone or IP line, and the image is decoded and printed back to paper by the recipient.

This assumes, of course, that:

  1. The original document isn't destroyed by the sending fax machine due to roller misalignment or jam
  2. The sending fax machine can get a dial tone on a line that isn't being used by another device or person
  3. The receiving fax machine is:
    1. Turned on and ready to receive the document
    2. Stocked with paper
    3. Stocked with ink or toner
    4. Not jammed with the last received fax
    5. Configured correctly
  4. The receiving telephone line isn’t already busy with fax or voice traffic
  5. The telephone lines at both the sending and receiving stations, and the intervening components provided by the telephony providers, are configured correctly and of sufficient quality to sustain the transmission
  6. The line signal is not interrupted by noise, bad connectivity, or outside interference
Assuming all of the requisite parameters have lined up appropriately, the recipient will be in possession of a facsimile of the original document. The resulting quality of this document is variable – through trial and error, one can experiment with the settings of both the sending and receiving stations to improve the ultimate legibility of transmitted documents, but the end result is often less than stellar.

Many documents contain components which are especially problematic. Color faxing is troublesome, as some originating documents will contain colors and shades that the sending fax machine cannot scan properly. Items such as barcodes, which contain vertical lines whose size and alignment are critical for proper reading, can be rendered useless by slight misalignment or size (due to the loss of image quality).

Quality and legibility issues aside, faxing in general can be a losing battle in terms of logistics and cost. High volume operations depend on large amounts of paper and other supplies; fax machines are inexpensive to purchase but difficult to service (in most cases it’s simply cheaper to replace an ailing machine); telephone lines must be purchased, provisioned, maintained – and moved, if the facility relocates; unattended machines tend to litter floors overnight due to overflowing paper trays, leading to lost documents or a loss of page order; poor quality transmissions require the receiving station to contact the sender to request a retry, and more often than not the sending station and receiving station are in disagreement as to whether or not a particular fax was even received to begin with. None of these issues are new. Anyone who’s ever faxed an important document has had to deal with them… and technology can only go so far in improving the fax situation.

Technology Improvments
Businesses dealing with large fax volume have invested heavily in technologies which can at least help improve their chances of sending and receiving faxes with an increased degree of success and accountability. Individual fax machines, for instance, can be replaced with servers containing analog or digital fax cards – so while the sending station is likely using a paper-based fax machine, the receiving station turns the telephone signal into a digital image, which can be stored and routed to disk or a software-based document management system.

Doing away with fax machines, however, comes at a cost: high-capacity fax cards and the servers to contain them will more often than not cost the business tens of thousands of dollars – and increasing capacity as the business grows will only further that cost. Additionally, more capacity means a substantial investment in telephone or Internet Protocol lines, which are always owned and maintained by a third party provider and are subject to the quality of service and quality of management issues we’ve come to expect from telephone and internet service providers – problems which affect not only the recipient, but each of the individual senders as well.

Thus, there are truly only so many improvements to be made to existing fax technology – and only some of those issues can be addressed by the business. If the individual sending stations experience problems of their own, the overall business suffers.

Over the past several years, a number of internet-based fax providers have begun offering services to business dealing with high fax volume. These services save the receiving business in terms of technology investment overhead and tend to improve the overall fax receipt rate and accountability – however, businesses soon find that these services cost quite a bit more over time than forecast, as the service rates tend to be negotiated on a per page schedule based on historical fax volume rates. Once the business is able to depend on the fax service’s increased volume capability, their volume tends to increase dramatically – as does their overall cost.

There still exists, of course, the problem of quality and capacity of the sending stations.Complicating the fax service outsourcing dilemma: stability. Fax providers come and go, with a new provider becoming insolvent and/or purchased by another, larger provider every few months. The company one contracts with this week will very likely not be the company one contacts next month when problems arise and support is required. And when your fax provider disappears, where do all those stored critical documents go?

Why not use email?
In a perfect world, we would. But, there are problems with using email for reliable document transmission:

Users: despite desktop computers having been in use in business since the mid-1980’s, many employees still don't grasp the basic fundamentals of sending, receiving, saving – and then finding – email attachments. The number of corporate employees who state to support representatives on a daily basis “I’m really not good with computers” is truly staggering. As a result, businesses generally aren’t receiving the return on their technology investments that they could be, and this is unfortunate. One need only witness the periodic receipt of accidental “Reply to all” messages sent by novice users to imagine why transmitting confidential data via email could be problematic.

Security: generally, our legal system doesn’t recognize email as a means of transmitting legally-binding documents, as more often than not there is a lack of an audit trail for the document in question. Technology still has yet to conquer issues surrounding digital document signatures in an accepted fashion, so facsimiles of documents are the only recognized representation of original documents. Likewise, email is by itself insecure. Technologies such as PGP encryption have existed for decades, but these solutions require a significant per-user administrative and configuration capability that simply doesn’t exist in most small businesses. An alarming number of healthcare-industry business entities have turned to free email services such as Gmail and Hotmail to transfer confidential patient and prescription data, in direct violation of basic HIPAA laws, because they lack an understanding of the technologies involved. Thus, it isn’t a stretch to assume that third parties such as Google have come into the inadvertent possession of a great deal of highly confidential patient data and that a great number of healthcare-related institutions are unknowingly operating on the wrong side of patient privacy laws and regulations.

How AgenneBridge solves these problems
AgenneBridge's groundbreaking technology gives businesses the ability to transfer documents to and from their partners quickly and efficiently, with a resultant quality and capacity that can’t be matched using standard fax protocols and hardware. In addition, documents are transferred using industry-standard SSL technology, ensuring security and regulatory compliance, while providing extensive document history auditing capabilities.

Capacity is strictly a question of server resources and hard drive space. From a user’s perspective, using AgenneBridgeTM is as simple as printing a document – which practically any computer user is capable of without a second thought. AgenneBridgeTM transmits industry-standard TIFF G4 images, which can be scanned and manipulated by all known document management systems.

Using AgenneBridgeTM, businesses can establish secure, point-to-point and bi-directional document transfers with any number of trusted partners. The business owns the entire document transaction, with zero loss and reduced dependency on outside vendors. The technology investment, compared to the alternatives, is extremely low – while the return on that investment can be measured almost immediately.

AgenneBridgeTM takes the old-school out of your technology. Contact us today to learn more or to request a price quote.

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