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Sep 08, 2016 Global Cents

The Essential Guide to Online Signatures, Part I: Overview of the Online Signing Process

When was the last time you used a pen to apply a wet signature to a business document? It’s been a while, right? As organizations adopt paper-free processes and automate their document-based workflows, the need to apply a wet signature on a document will slowly, but surely, become obsolete. So put your pens down – you won’t be needing them.

Online signing mechanisms have transformed the way we conduct our day-to-day business transactions. As we rely more on electronic workflows and less on document exchange via post, fax or courier, the discontinuities and delays caused by physical signing have become harder to ignore. Additionally, companies and employees have become more globally dispersed, which has required an evolution in the signing process.

Key Drivers and Adoption Rates of Online Signatures

In 2012, AIIM conducted a survey designed to identify the key drivers and adoption rates of online signatures amongst organizations. Here are some of the key findings from the report:

Key drivers

  • Authorization signatures are considered essential for 58% of responding organizations.
  • Over half need to bring traveling, remote or home-based employees into the signing loop.
  • 40% need signatures from people outside the organization.
  • For 44% of the surveyed organizations, half or more of their processes are interrupted by the need to collect physical signatures.
  • 3.1 days are added to most processes in order to collect physical signatures and 22% of organizations surveyed add a week or more to their processes.
  • 48% of process documents are printed for the sole purpose of adding signatures.

Adoption rates

  • 35% of organizations who answered the survey are already using digital/electronic signatures, up from 24% in the 2010 survey. A further 11% have plans in the next 12 months.
  • Self-managed in-house digital signature (PKI) solutions are the most popular with existing users, but planned users are evenly split between this and server or appliance-based PKI systems.
  • 30% are using non-PKI solutions such as electronic signatures or graphical signatures.

Electronic vs. Digital vs. Graphical Signatures

Because of the quick and rather disruptive nature of digitizing the signing process, there’s been confusion regarding the different mechanisms and technologies involved in signing documents digitally.

When it comes to digitizing the signing process, there are three types of signatures that are commonly used within an organization: electronic, digital and graphical. Do you know exactly what each of these are and how they differ from one another?

In a four-part blog series, I will explain the difference between the three types of signatures, including the regulations that govern them and their business scenarios. In addition, I’ve put together an extensive white paper called The essential guide to online signatures: The differences between electronic, digital and graphical signatures, which clearly illustrates the business applications of the different types of online signatures.

You want to learn more about the differences between electronic, digital & graphical signatures? Download our whitepaper today!

Published by Global Cents September 8, 2016