The Challenges of Carrying the Office on the Go
September 23, 2013
By Mae Kowalke
, TMCnet Contributor
The idea of taking our file cabinet with us as we conduct our meetings and travel to various locations outside the office is a seductive one. It also has started to become a reality with the prevalence of smartphones and tablet computers.
For many younger workers, all documents already are in the cloud and available in a digital form; this is becoming the norm, with services such as Dropbox (News - Alert) leading the way. These workers are leading almost completely digital lives, and the savvy ones have already figured out how to carry most, if not all, of their documents with them no matter where they go.
Not everyone has the luxury of starting from scratch, however, and building a digital workflow from the ground up. Many businesses and workers have existing, paper-based systems for getting business done. These systems work reasonably well—although most don’t include the modern convenience of toting around every file and document that exists in their work life. The cloud just didn’t exist when most of these systems were created—or it was just starting to take root.
There’s also the issue of how to handle the business processes of others. This is an issue faced by even young workers without the baggage of existing systems. Even if files are generated and kept in a digital form, even if they are stored in the cloud, there’s still the tricky issue of how to corral the paper documents that come into the office.
Image via Shutterstock
Other businesses still send paper documents. Contracts are not yet all digital. Faxes come in from partners and customers.
Having all documents available on the go for when they are needed is quite helpful, but only if a system is able to handle all files and documents. If not, the system has limited appeal because now there are two places to check for the document—one digital, one paper. And only one of those two places is available on the go.
There are solutions, however, and most of them lead through a single concept: Take the paper systems of others digital when they enter the office.
That means a document scanner at minimum. But it also means subverting paper whenever possible so it never reaches the office in anything other than a digital form.
One way to do this is with fax-over-IP (FoIP). With FoIP, faxes don’t arrive as printed paper in a pile by the fax machine. Instead, they arrive digitally and can be forwarded to one or more e-mail accounts—or piped through a digital document management system. There’s no scanning because the “paper” document never arrives in a paper form.
This can be costly, but it need not be. Services such as AudioCodes’ (News - Alert) Fax ATA and FaxBack Fax Machine Connector Software enable existing fax infrastructure to be converted into a FoIP solution.
The lure of documents on the go is still out of reach for many; we haven’t yet transitioned fully to a world where we can totally carry our office with us. But we’re getting close, and the smart business can engineer it today with a little planning.