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March 04, 2010

The Many Benefits of FoIP and Microsoft SharePoint
By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor

With a host of new technologies entering the market place each day, it’s easy to forgot that some very useful solutions from the past are still relevant today.

Fax over IP or FoIP is one good example. Not only is the technology still useful in this increasingly all-IP World, but it can help enterprises save money and be more efficient.
So, how do companies bridge the gap between analog faxing and VoIP communications? One answer many IT managers have is to implement FoIP. With its ability to integrate into the Microsoft (News - Alert) SharePoint Portal Server, is an optimal choice to drive effective fax communications.

The Benefits of FoIP Integration Start with OCR

FoIP offers a number of benefits to the organization that go beyond its ability to fax. When FoIP is integrated with SharePoint, fax indexing through Optical Character Recognition is possible. This capability ensures that faxes are text-searchable. In the past, faxes on the SharePoint server could only be viewed as images and not indexed for users to retrieve.

Document Accessibility

This integration with SharePoint also provides the capability to deliver faxes into designated SharePoint Document Libraries, creating documents much like purchase orders, sales invoices and contracts easily accessible by the appropriate personnel. This integration also includes security and access enhancements, as well as the ability to keep an audit trail on received faxes.

SPAM Elimination

Integrating FoIP with SharePoint not only allows proficient inbound routing of faxed documents into SharePoint sites, it also eliminates the spam and security risks easily associated with enabling SharePoint sites for e-mail access. With tight integration between FoIP and SharePoint, there is no need to e-mail-enable SharePoint sites and open users and the network up to spam.
The business can also benefit from the elimination of manual steps and inbound faxes can trigger automated SharePoint workflow processes to initiate action on documents. Overall, the right documents go to the right destinations and junk is filtered out of the system.

Applying Business Rules

Business rules can easily be applied with FoIP integration into SharePoint. Users can manage documents flows without software programming and authorized users can develop custom business rules that review fax transmission data and search for text within a document to make decisions on how to best handle a document.

Automated Workflows

This integration can also automate data entry and reduce time spent on manual entry efforts. Transmission data that is extracted from the OCR process can be automatically populated into column values in SharePoint lists.
The number of benefits associated with FoIP integration into SharePoint is significant and measurable on the bottom line. For those companies that need to preserve the ability to fax in an all-IP environment, FoIP integration into the SharePoint portal is an optimal solution to streamlined communications solutions. 

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney


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