Electronic Signatures: A Sign of Things to Come

By: Tatiyana Emylia, DigitalCFO Asia | 5 November 2021

First came e-signatures.

Now, with DocuSign’s Agreement Cloud fast approaching, Vice President (VP) & General Manager (GM) of the Asia Pacific & Japan regions Dan Bognar says wet signatures may soon be a thing of the past.

Ever heard of DocuSign? Even if you haven’t, as long as you’ve ever signed an electronic signature, congratulations: you’re probably one of their more than one billion users worldwide. Founded in 2003, the firm hit the ground running with the popularisation of electronic signatures—or e-signatures, for short—and are now moving on to proliferate company simplicity and productivity with their Agreement Cloud. DigitalCFO Asia delves further into the fog of digitalisation in this realm with Dan Bognar, VP & GM of APJ at DocuSign.

A sign of the times

Legacy paper based agreements like contracts and acknowledgement forms are notorious for the volume of paperwork they generate. According to Bognar, they’re often very slow, expensive, and highly error-prone. This is where the beauty of DocuSign comes in: their e-signatures seamlessly automate these business processes using workflow. Rather than engaging in laborious, manual paperwork, all of a company’s systems can be streamlined and connected through DocuSign—be it their ERP systems, procurement systems, HR systems and more. The goal here is simple: the company prides itself on reducing cost and improving productivity and sustainability. With more than a million customers under their belt, it’s clear that this is no empty claim.

Tipping the scales

The thought of contract digitisation may make some uneasy, considering possible threats to cybersecurity and privacy. However, DocuSign assures the highest level of security and reliability. Upon every individual e-signature, a Certificate of Completion is automatically generated, which provides a full audit traceability of the individual who signed through their IP address. This means that the e-signature recipient can be assured of full traceability in the event where identity and authenticity comes into question. To bolster security further, DocuSign promises stringent security in the software, including data protection, identity verification, and anti-tamper controls. In this sense, Bognar argues that electronic signatures may in fact be more airtight than any wet signature has ever been.

Beyond beefed up security, DocuSign boasts of another upside to digitalising agreement workflows: lower costs. On average, each electronic agreement saves USD$36: an accumulation of physical hard cost and moving savings as well as the valuation of productivity improvements through leveraging upon automation. Even to more conservative CFOs, it’s easy to see how this USD$36 can add up per agreement.

The cloud on the horizon

The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses—those forward-thinking and risk-averse alike—to pivot to remote and hybrid ways of working to ensure business continuity. In the process, prior barriers to adopting software that companies like DocuSign have lowered as more firms incorporate digitised workflows. Earlier this September, DocuSign announced that they’ve seen a 50 per cent year on year increase in global  revenue for their second quarter ended July 31.

With higher, more broad ranging acceptance of e-signatures and agreement cloud solutions, DocuSign plans to further sink their teeth into Asia though leveraging Singapore as its primary hub into other growth markets in the region. This includes markets like South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Hong Kong. The company is currently hiring more in Singapore as well as transitioning a number of key roles from Australia into the country in light of the expansion.

Further beyond regional expansion, DocuSign hopes to expand its venture into its agreement cloud solutions. Beyond e-signatures, DocuSign now offers a suite of solutions across the entire agreement lifecycle, including key stages of preparing, signing, acting on, and managing the agreement. This lifecycle divulges into two prongs DocuSign is currently looking into: Contract Lifecycle Management and Artificial intelligence. The former looks into generating large volumes of documentation at scale, while the firm aims to develop AI algorithms that can provide valuable insights for legal and risk teams based on historical agreements.

With an influx of agreement cloud solution adoption as well as DocuSign’s plans on further enhancement into the software, it’s clear that there is no better time than now to hop on the bandwagon.