Going green – it’ something many companies talk about, but few have actually taken it completely to heart and gone paperless. 1st Guard Corporation isn’t one of them. It taken made “paperless” a mandate across the firm, something of a feat for an insurance firm. In fact, Dan Ribar, CIO at 1st Guard Corporation, says it’s actually frowned upon to have paper on desks in the office.
While some like to claim fax is a dying technology, Ribar and others in industries that rely heavily on signed documents or have to conform to strict regulatory requirements argue that is hardly the case. They will, however, agree that technology is changing the way fax is handled, especially in an all-IP environment, where FoIP easily replaces traditional fax machines (and the paper, toner, and maintenance that go along).
“You would think fax would become less important over time but, in our environment, faxing is a very strong communications method,” says Ribar. “Fortunately, when we see new technology that can help us be more productive, we can usually implement it very quickly.”
For any performance-based company, like 1st Guard, any opportunity to reduce not only time, but cost in the process, should be considered. With coverage-related documents, for instance, it is quite common for many individuals to need access to the same documents, many of them on the road on sales calls. The idea that each of them needs a separate hard copy of the document is not only incredibly wasteful, but cumbersome – especially when electronic documents can be easily initiated with the combination of a FoIP and document management system.
In fact, 1st Guard has set up its Project Green program to promote its paperless mantra to its customers, who are encouraged to sign up for paperless documentation in exchange for a sizable discount on their insurance premiums.
“There is such an administrative cost to creating paper, stuffing, folding, sorting, mailing, postage, etc, that we decided to incentivize people to help us be more efficient,” explains Ribar.
When a technology like FoIP is available to help reduce overhead costs and create process efficiencies – which are inherent to IP-based communications solutions – it’s a win-win situation. The insurance, healthcare, and legal industries are among the largest users of fax technology, but they, too must evolve with the times, which means moving away from antiquated technologies to the latest alternatives, including VoIP and unified communications (of which FoIP is a key component).
The key lies in the integration of FoIP into the general communications infrastructure, which FaxCore (News - Alert) makes the process easy by providing a simple SDK that can be used to easily integrate with any existing system, along with Web-based APIs for simple administration.
Beyond that, FaxCore’s solution has been designed to be flexible enough to meet any technology requirements. For instance, 1st Guard doesn’t use the provided interfaces at all. Instead it uses it own internal SDK and applications for fax integration and document management, enabling ubiquitous access to faxed documents, regardless of device or location.
“Any inbound fax can be viewed and distributed back out through the email or fax environment,” says Ribar. “If I can get to a browser, I can get to any inbound fax, or locate documents and send them outbound. It’s really an incredible capability.”
Cost savings are obviously the most quantifiable of the benefits of including FoIP in a unified communications transition, but often, even greater benefits can be seen over the long term through process efficiencies, enhanced relationships, and simplified document management and storage – not to mention a cleaner and more appealing office environment that isn’t cluttered with hard copy documents.
The key to a paperless environment – and gaining maximum benefit from a FoIP investment – is a top down approach, beginning with the top levels of management.
“It’s never going to work with just an employee pushing it, but when the chairman and owner of the company is pushing it and really believes it, it’s pretty easy to make happen,” notes Ribar. “Ed Campbell, III is, by nature, a technologist. There is nobody better to work for than somebody who embraces technology.”
While not every organization is run by a true technology fanatic like Campbell, they can all take a lesson from the success 1st Guard has enjoyed by implementing FoIP and driving a paperless environment.
If you’re considering deploying a FoIP solution, join the conversation at ITEXPO West 2011 in its new home in Austin, Texas, September 13-15. Among the agenda items addressing a range of technology and communications needs today is a panel comprising many of the FoIP industry leaders, who are anxious to answer your questions and help you make the best technology decisions for your company. Register today for a world-class educational experience, including ITEXPO (News - Alert) West and 14 exciting collocated events.
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask