Adobe has made two Adobe Document Cloud announcements. The first is the inclusion of digital signatures technology and the second is a deal with Dropbox to streamline workflow and adding digital signature technology.
The move to digital transformation
One of the key drivers for digital signatures is the move towards a digital transformation. This is a process that many companies have been undergoing for almost two decades despite problems with the technology. Early adopters scanned all documents coming into the company and sent out both paper and electronic copies of their documents to clients. While this led to early document signing technology it was often difficult to implement.
With the explosion of mobile devices, work is increasingly being conducted digitally. Sales forces are less likely to carry around large sheaves of order forms and catalogues than a tablet today. The problem is how to get a signature that is legible and acceptable onto a form in a tablet? Signing onto a screen is not easy and some technology such as that carried by delivery teams is generally very poor indeed.
It is not just tablets and electronic devices that pose a problem. Signatures are often required in workflows. Cheque signing has been solved through the use of secure technology that allows companies to add signatures as cheques are being printed but this doesn’t solve the problem of most documents, especially if they are to remain electronic and help drive digital transformation.
Abode eSign Manager DC to enable digital signatures
To solve the problem of digital signatures on mobile devices Adobe has introduced the Adobe eSign Manager DC. It is a mobile app companion for Document Cloud eSign services and Adobe Acrobat DC. The latter means that it will also be available to Adobe Creative Cloud customers who can use it when building workflows as part of their projects.
According to Bryan Lamkin, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Media, Adobe “Companies are in the midst of massive digital transformation, with a relentless push to streamline all business processes. New e-sign capabilities in Adobe Document Cloud, including digital signatures and breakthrough mobile functionality, will bring a new level of efficiency to core business processes by eliminating the time lag and cumbersome paperwork associated with securing ink signatures.”
Among the features that eSign Manager DC delivers are:
- Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)—Securely manage employees’ Document Cloud mobile apps and devices using Android for Work, or, coming soon, Good Technology and Microsoft Intune.
- Signature Capture—Let employees use their mobile device camera to take a photo of their handwritten signature once, then use it to sign documents again and again.
- Signature Sync—Give employees access to their signature image across web, mobile and desktop experiences with automatic synchronization. Plus, download and view more stored agreements on your mobile device and find the right one quickly using powerful new search and filter options.
eSign delivered through the Document Cloud partner ecosystem
Adobe has also announced that eSign will also be delivered through a number of partners as part of their workflow products. This means that customers will be able to quickly and easily sign documents . According to the press release the first three customers to deliver eSign as part of their workflow solutions are:
- Workday—Speed business processes with e-signature capabilities pre-integrated into Workday’s built-in business process framework. The integration provides Workday customers that purchase Adobe eSign services with the ability to add e-signatures to over 400 business processes across the entire Workday application suite to help save time, reduce errors and legal risk, increase compliance, and improve employee experiences.
- Salesforce—Simplify the setup, use and management of signature workflows for sales via the #1 customer-rated e-signature solution for Salesforce. The latest eSign services update delivers an easy-to-use setup wizard, automates common tasks like adding product lists to agreements, and supports certificate-based digital signatures. And, it’s native on the Salesforce Platform and fully certified with the Lightning app builder framework.
- Ariba—Streamline the procurement process through greater flexibility, security and control when sending contracts for e-signature in Ariba Contract Management. The latest eSign services integration enables users to add multiple signers, define signing order, and verify signers with multi-factor authentication.
The Dropbox announcement
As part of the eSign announcements Dropbox has announced that it is going to make it possible for customers to electronically sign PDF documents delivered across its storage and collaboration platform. Once the user is in their Dropbox account, they will be able to open a PDF and then select eSign from a dropdown menu.
This would not only work well for collaborative teams and workflow but where contracts have to be sent out either to commercial customers or consumers, it would provide a means to get a signature. According to the Dropbox press release this latest integration will deliver:
- Access and share files quickly. With a few simple taps or clicks in the free Acrobat Reader mobile app or Acrobat DC on desktop, users can view and take additional actions on PDF files stored in their Dropbox Basic, Pro and Dropbox for Business accounts. Any changes are automatically saved back to Dropbox. Once completed, it’s simple to share the updated file using a Dropbox link or shared folder.
- Edit and collaborate more simply. Users can open a PDF file from the Dropbox website, iPhone or iPad app, and edit with Acrobat DC on desktop or Acrobat Reader mobile while on-the-go. With the Adobe apps, anyone can highlight, annotate or add comments to the document. Acrobat DC users can also complete a full range of tasks on the PDF files, including editing text, organizing pages, or converting the documents to their original format. The new version of the file can then be shared with colleagues or friends directly from Dropbox to collaborate further. These capabilities build on existing integration between Adobe eSign services and Dropbox, which enables users to access, track and sign PDF files stored in Dropbox.
- Sync documents everywhere. Ensure PDF files, and the changes you make to them in Adobe apps, are always synced in Dropbox, whether you’re on a mobile device, the web, or in front of a computer.
The use of the technology to collect signatures from consumer for contracts is echoed by Dennis Woodside, Chief Operating Officer at Dropbox:
“At Dropbox, our goal is to simplify the way people work together. We provide the world’s simplest, most powerful collaboration platform for the creative and entrepreneurial lives of our 400 million users. They want to edit PDF files on-the-go, gather feedback from their team—even collect signatures for a contract—on any device. Partnering with Adobe helps our users work better together.”
While businesses are moving consistently from paper to electronic documents and email, there is still a challenge in terms of how to sign a document to make it authentic and legally binding. While some courts are willing to accept electronic documents and email as contractually binding many are not and the law in most countries still requires a recognised signature.
Delivering an eSign option built into Adobe Acrobat and therefore into several of the Adobe cloud suites makes sense. The one thing Adobe will have to be careful of is to ensure that the underlying technology is secure. It only needs one successful hacking attack against the technology for customers to lose confidence and for lawyers to argue that the signature cannot be relied upon.
Getting partners to deliver eSign as part of the workflow their products enable is also a clever move. It plays well to the customers of both companies and should see fairly rapid take-up. Meanwhile the Dropbox move with its ability to drive eSign to consumers is good but Adobe also needs to sign up Box before Microsoft reacts with its own solutions and starts to target this market.