The digital signature market could be one of the next sweet spots for the channel in enterprise IT.
Signature automation can be included with records management, e-discovery, and other similar services in an enterprise content management implementation.
For me, the key benefits are time and money savings, efficiency, regulatory compliance and increased security.
There is also the desire to use less paper, as part of environmental and cost-cutting policies.
While the need to print and physically sign various documents may not be the only barrier to paperless processes, it is certainly a big one.
It's even worse in some organisations, particularly those in sectors that are highly regulated such as healthcare or defence and need to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures every year.
Using digital certificates, public key infrastructure and the organisation's own authentication mechanisms, standards-based e-signatures create legally enforceable records.
This goes beyond simply creating a .jpeg of the original signature.
Not only are these quite secure, they also provide long-term proof of the identity and intent of the signer as well as of the document's integrity. These can be easily validated and verified using widely available tools such as Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office.
These features are built into any reliable digital signature offering from an increasing range of vendors.
They can be deployed in the cloud, on premise, or as a hybrid solution where the document to be signed remains behind the corporate firewall.
Early adopters cite more streamlined processes and faster approval times (one customer told me it can cut approval times from days to hours). The need to post or courier documents can be reduced or even eliminated, and the documents themselves can be easily incorporated into an online archive.
With enterprise IT systems on offer incorporating functionality that covers an increasing range of business processes, there is a huge opportunity for resellers, for example with SharePoint users who need to add multiple signatures to documents, often in a specific order..
Users may also be keen to sign batches of documents in one operation or list items on a per-item basis.
And implementation is pretty quick and painless, with benefits appearing immediately.
You may have come across client requests for an e-signature solution in the past. If not, they're surely worth a look.
Ronan Lavelle is UK country manager at ARX
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