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Information Management and Backwards-Compatibility: Just the Fax, Ma’am

What does it tell you about the latest information management disciplines that my big success this week was sending a 10-page fax to a doctor’s office?

It tells me is that we should never forget that much of the world consists of people who are just trying to get stuff done – and many of these are not equipped with anything resembling the cutting-edge information management solutions we usually focus on. (There’s a much more significant example here.)

The Technical Back Story

About a year ago, I cut the cord to my cable service, sacrificing hundreds of channels I never watched and phone services I hardly used for a high-speed Internet connection. And all was perfectly well until the other day, when I needed to send a document to my elderly father’s physician and learned that they are only allowed to communicate via fax.

Lacking a phone line, I knew there was no dial tone to feed to my MFP. I also knew I didn’t want to sign up for an online service (too much work considering I probably won’t have to fax again for years). So I ended up buying a gadget, subscribing to a free VOIP offering, and faxed happily ever after.

The Information Management Moral

I tell this story because I don’t want you to hold the same mistaken assumption I did (albeit unwittingly), which is that anyone I need to share information with lives in the same scan/PDF/email world I do. The truth is, there are plenty of technical, philosophical, economic, and legal reasons for them not to, and yet it still somehow surprised me when they surfaced.

I still firmly believe that the latest information disciplines have the power to transform our businesses, and I know they are doing so in a great many cases. But we must always remember that the old ones have a staying power of their own, and we overlook them only at our peril.

4 thoughts on “Information Management and Backwards-Compatibility: Just the Fax, Ma’am”

  1. The doctor’s limitation to communication via fax may possibly be driven more my HIPAA rules than the use of technology in the doctor’s office. Regardless, it’s a good reminder that not everyone advances at the same pace.

  2. Hi Ken! Thanks for commenting. You are exactly right; HIPAA is indeed why fax is the method of choice in that office. Still came as a surprise, though, despite the fact that I know better!

  3. Here is another example: I have been scanning documents for years to eliminate the paper. I use a HP MFP to do a lot of the scanning. Suddenly, I find many of the PDFs created are “corrupted” when customers try to open them. Upon examination, I find the latest Acrobat Reader editions no longer support the old technology and Adobe disavows any responsibility for PDFs created by other vendors. What a pain!! We cannot rely on vendors to continue to support work we have done. That fact sets back adoption of technology solutions in a big way.

  4. Absolutely! I understand why they eventually have to cut ties to their older stuff, but we less-than-enterprise-scale users don’t seem to find out about it until it’s too late. A great cautionary tale — thanks for commenting, Ray!

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