We’re in the middle of a digitization boom and paperless processes are undoubtedly verified using e-Signatures. The rapid adoption of e-signatures by regulatory bodies as well as governments globally is influencing the business world to follow this trend in a big way. Additionally, with businesses rapidly moving to cloud servers and employees settling into remote offices, e-signature is not just a tool but an imperative factor in the growth and sustainability of businesses. The e-signature technology itself has matured and evolved to facilitate the changing regulatory and business landscape. As the digital world continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, traditional practices are being rapidly replaced by their digital counterparts. It’s a good time to take a look at what has changed recently and how does it affect your choice of electronic signature providers?
Let us take a deep dive into the future of e-signatures and explore what we can expect to see in the next 5 years. From advancements in security measures to greater standardization and integration with other digital tools, the future of e-signatures promises to be exciting and transformative.
Future Trends in e-Signature
As e-signatures are gaining widespread acceptance, we can categorize the following trends as core enablers, driving e-Signature capabilities in the next decade.
1. Mobile Friendly: With the rise of mobile devices, more and more business professionals are using smartphones to conduct their daily tasks. This trend has created a demand for e-signature solutions that can be easily accessed and used on mobile devices, regardless of the operating system.
Mobile compatibility allows users to sign documents on the go, from anywhere in the world. This flexibility is especially beneficial for remote workers who need to sign and share documents from outside the office. Another advantage of it is the ability to improve overall customer experience. By providing a simple and convenient signing process, businesses can enhance their brand reputation and build customer loyalty. Furthermore, it is cost-efficient as it cuts on expenses associated with paper-based processes, such as printing, mailing, and storing physical documents.
As the world becomes increasingly mobile-centric, the trend toward mobile compatibility of e-signatures is expected to continue. Businesses that fail to adopt this technology may struggle to remain competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace.
2. Cloud-Based Solutions: It would be an understatement to say that e-signatures have revolutionized the way businesses operate today. End-to-end digitization of the process that functions with minimal human intervention is the end goal. The advent of cloud-based solutions has streamlined the process, making it faster, more convenient, and cost-effective. The integration of e-signatures into cloud-based solutions such as document management systems, electronic signature platforms, contract management software, and workflow automation tools is rapidly gaining popularity as it eliminates the need for physical paperwork, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.
One of the key advantages of integrating e-signatures into cloud-based solutions is the improved security and compliance measures integrated into the system. It provides robust security protocols, such as encryption, access control, and secure storage. Additionally, e-signatures provide a digital audit trail, which tracks the entire signing process, making it easier to track any changes or discrepancies.
To state the obvious, e-signature integration into cloud-based solutions has boomed efficiency and productivity in business processes. Documents that took days or weeks to process can be easily executed within a matter of a few minutes. This not only saves time but also reduces costs associated with printing, scanning, signing, mailing, and storage.
As the world becomes increasingly digital, the demand for e-signatures in cloud-based solutions is only expected to grow. It is a trend that is likely to continue, driven by the need for greater convenience, efficiency, and security in the business world.
3. Collaboration Capabilities: As e-signatures gain widespread adoption in government and public processes, it has necessitated the development of a comprehensive collaborative platform. E-signature platforms with collaboration capabilities allow multiple users to access and sign a document simultaneously, regardless of their location. This feature is particularly useful for remote teams or businesses with multiple branches or offices.
The platform also facilitates a centralized dashboard that allows users to track the progress of each signature in real-time, ensuring that the signing process is completed quickly and efficiently. Moreover, features like the ability to share documents and add comments or annotations allow for improved collaboration and communication between signatories, leading to greater accuracy and efficiency in document preparation.
In conclusion, the collaboration capabilities of these platforms are a significant trend in the emerging landscape of e-signatures. By providing users with a secure, efficient, and collaborative way of signing documents, these platforms are quickly becoming a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.
4. Blockchain Integration: A trend that is likely to emerge in the future is the use of blockchain technology in e-signatures. By utilizing the decentralized and immutable nature of blockchain technology, e-signatures can now achieve greater security, transparency, and reliability than ever before. It can effectively eliminate the need for intermediaries, thereby reducing transaction costs and ensuring a seamless and efficient process. This will be particularly useful in industries such as finance and real estate, where the security and reliability of signatures are of utmost importance.
Moreover, the integration of blockchain technology can also help to address the issue of fraud. By recording each signature and transaction on the blockchain ledger, any attempts at fraudulent activity can be quickly identified and eliminated.
Integration of blockchain technology into e-signatures will represent a significant step forward that will ensure a secure, transparent, and efficient means of conducting transactions in the digital world, thereby enhancing the trust and credibility of e-signatures in the future business landscape.
5. A Fully Digital Process Requires End-to-End Digitization: While technological or legal advancements are important enablers of e-signature adoption, the key driver for progress is the need from businesses and their users. User expectations have far exceeded from simple signing documents at the final step of the process to a completely digitized document execution. This push for the digitization of processes has in turn driven the development of full-fledged platforms that can facilitate end-to-end digitization.
A fully digital process encompasses the creation and execution of the document, without any physical intervention. This can be achieved by integrating e-signature solutions into existing digital platforms, such as cloud-based software.
Additionally, a trend that has been growing in popularity is the employment of server-side signing. It allows users to mediate autonomous identification using digital identities. This facilitates users to log into and execute documents on signing platforms like emSigner using their trusted identities rendering it a user-friendly, scalable, and efficient solution. Server-side signing relies on a Trust Service Provider (TSP) like eMudhra to remotely generate and manage the signing keys on the signatory’s behalf.
In today's digital age, a fully digital process with end-to-end digitization is not only a competitive advantage but also a necessity.
6. Increased Regulatory Compliance: In addition to these technological advancements, the future of e-signatures is also likely to be shaped by regulatory changes. Governments are increasingly recognizing the legal validity of e-signatures, and regulations are evolving to support their use in more situations. This will provide greater legal certainty and ensure that e-signatures are recognized and enforceable in a wider range of contexts. In the U.S., more than 35 states now authorize remote online notarial services. In Australia, several states have authorized the use of broader applications of remote electronic witnessing. Additionally, e-signatures are gaining legal validation in financial institutes’ workflow execution.
New laws are set to expand the usage of witnessing services for electronically signed agreements, making it easier for people to sign legal documents without being in the same physical location. These changes come as a response to the growing trend of remote work and the need for businesses to continue operations during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This will provide greater convenience for individuals and businesses, while still ensuring that the integrity of the signing process is maintained through the use of trusted identities.
Electronic Signatures for Business Continuity – The Need of the Hour