The best of innovations are the ones that solve real-world problems. If they can mask complexity in the process, they are doubly beneficial. From the simple paper clip to the complex Enterprise IT software, ease of use and applicability are key to adoption.Take fax for instance. It is a vital piece of the Unified Communications strategy that is often overlooked. Traditional analog faxing has been around for ages, but it has its share of problems. It is difficult to enforce an audit trail, multiple incoming faxes means dealing with busy signals. What compounds this is the paper consumption, toner cartridges that are hard to re-cycle.Enter fax-over-IP. For those of you who are looking for sample ideas that solve customer problems for the Cisco developer contest, or otherwise, I recommend a study of the elegant solution from SAGEM-Interstar. Recently, Teresa Newell (who is a product manager for Unified Communication solutions on the Cisco Integrated Services Router) and I got a chance to host"faxperts" John Nikolopoulos, SAGEM's Director of Marketing and Matthew Miller, XMediusFAX product manager who were visiting us at the Cisco San Jose Campus from Montreal, Canada. Against the scenic background of another Cisco building (yeah, I know) I quizzed John on the business value of SAGEM's solution and why despite being Number one in their industry they still found it beneficial to host the application on the Cisco ISR.Not to be outdone, Teresa put her engineering hat on and probed Matthew on what developers need to consider while porting applications onto the Application Extension Platform. Mattew also shared some of their experiences in bringing applications onboard which may be useful to others.If you're keen to get a better understanding of the whole solution, take a look at an AXP panel discussion I hosted with my good friend Christian Larocque, SAGEM's Director of sales at Cisco Live!. Christian defines the problem statement, the solution and the benefits as only he can with the added bonus of his immaculate French accent. It is very informative and a textbook case study of the kind of innovative ideas we continue to expect on the Cisco Application Extension Platform. Luckily for us, this innovation is also proving to be a pretty successful business proposition as customers like the Cardiovasular group and HIG capital continue to adopt and endorse it.