Electronic Signature Trends and Future Predictions

Jun 3, 2024 11:55:32 AM
Electronic Signature Trends and Future Predictions

Electronic signatures have been around for a long time. The first laws that set a legal framework for their recognition and usage were put in place as early as 1999. However, since the pandemic in 2020 necessitated an increase in remote work, e-signatures have become even more important to the day-to-day operations of organizations in both the public and private sectors.

Since they aren’t going anywhere, understanding electronic signature trends can help you get the most out of your e-signature solution today and into the future. This is a technology that can help your team streamline processes and workflows across the breadth of your organization.

From improved security to increased functionality to expanded acceptance in areas that have, up to now, required in-person signing, electronic signatures are becoming more and more essential to how the world operates. 

So what do you need to know about the future of e-signatures? How can you get the most out of your e-signature solutions today while setting yourself up to optimize the technology as new innovations become mainstream reality?

An Overview of Current Benefits of Electronic Signatures

Before we look at where electronic signature trends are leading, it is a good idea to examine the benefits that e-signatures already provide. Understanding why they are a valuable tool today can help us better comprehend the ways they are evolving.

E-signature technology allows an organization to significantly reduce wait times for completion of important documents such as contracts. Signing electronically means a document can be sent via email, signed, and returned in a fraction of the time it would take to send a hard copy to a signatory and then get that hard copy sent back.

Adoption of e-signatures has also been shown to save money on the costs of paper and printing. Electric documents don’t need to be printed at all, which means they can be stored securely in your cloud instead of in bulky cabinets that have to be reorganized a few times a year. 

E-signatures also let you make all of your final versions of contracts easily searchable in your document management system. A hard copy needs to be found by hand, which takes much longer than typing in a keyword. And electronic documents allow multiple team members to review the same document at once.

Perhaps the biggest reason that e-signatures have become nearly ubiquitous across industries is that they allow documents to be signed from anywhere in the world. Stake holders can sign contracts with a mobile device—sending a notification about that signature back to you automatically.

Whether you are hiring contractors for a construction project, approving budgets, onboarding a new hire, signing off on a compliance checklist, or any number of other business processes that require signatures, e-signatures make those processes simpler and faster to complete.

Exciting Electronic Signature Trends

E-signatures offer even more benefits to businesses and public organizations today than were detailed above. But right now, we want to see what they are starting to be used for and how their use will expand in the future.

How are electronic signature platforms like Dropbox Sign improving on the already significant benefits of e-signatures? The short answer is that they are taking the foundation of current e-signature technology and building upon it.

e signature technology

Improved Cloud-Based Operations

Electronic signature trends are pointing toward less and less paper being involved in business operations. That is because removing the need for physical copies allows an organization to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud.

By incorporating e-signature solutions into content management software, it allows an organization to complete any operation requiring signatures wholly within the secured environment of their cloud.

That means your contracts are protected by layers of encryption and controlled access for both internal and necessary external users. An added bonus of this is the ability to track every single user that accesses a document—protecting you by creating an audit-trail and clearly identifying any changes to a document, who made those changes, and when they were made.

By shifting to cloud-based, paperless processes, you increase your ability to maintain version-control of a document—even when multiple people are viewing it simultaneously. And for frequently used documents, e-signature applications like Dropbox Sign also facilitate saving templates.

Optimization Through AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have become increasingly common in document management systems. The ability of AI to search through your database to find relevant search results in the text and metadata of your documents helps improve the efficiency of your team.

An increasing trend in the realm of e-signatures is using AI to improve user authentication. An AI assistant can learn a user’s behavior patterns, keystroke dynamics, and more to create a robust digital signature for each user that can then be used to ensure that the e-signature on a document was, in fact, signed by the actual person that was meant to sign it.

Leveraging Blockchain Solutions

In addition to AI’s use in electronic signature trends, blockchain technology is increasingly seeing use to bolster user identification protocols and keep important documents away from unauthorized eyes.

Because of blockchain’s tamper-proof nature, companies that have already been utilizing that technology have begun incorporating it into their content management systems—specifically as a way to ensure documents are secure and e-signatures are verified.

As usage of blockchain solutions increases, don’t be surprised to see it folded more and more into digital document processes.

Facilitating Collaboration

E-signature technology has proven invaluable in making hybrid work strategies viable. In addition to allowing signatures at the end of a document, incorporation of e-signature software has made end-to-end document generation and revision more efficient and cost-effective.

Using Dropbox Sign as an example, the ability to save and reuse document and contract formats means you can create a contract, automatically populate relevant fields, adjust that information as needed, and send it out to be signed electronically without ever putting ink to paper.

By using e-signatures, you can adjust your workflows around document and contract processing into fully digitized operations. This can be true for invoice processing, HR documentation, QA checklists, and pretty much anything else—including your contract generation and processing.

Simplifying Compliance

With electronic signature trends pointing towards an increase in fully digital workflows around documentation, opportunities to improve and simplify your teams’ compliance with regulations arise.

You can design your workflows and processes to incorporate every relevant compliance process. That means your team members will not even have to factor in compliance procedures because their workflow on any document ensures that regulations are met before the workflow advances to the next step.

And the way your e-signature solution can also help your team establish digital signatures, you ensure that confidential material stays confidential by tracking every user that accesses a document and automatically creating an audit trail.

Expanded Recognition

One issue with e-signatures is that they are not recognized as legally binding for certain types of documents. These largely have to do with legal documents such as wills. However, this may be changing.

When much of the world shut down during the pandemic in 2020, Australian lawmakers set about to put temporary provisions in place to allow witnesses to verify signatories remotely. This allowed many legal procedures that would have required face-to-face interactions to take place via video conferences with e-signatures.

And while those temporary laws have been lifted, they give lawmakers around the world a framework to use when expanding the use and recognition of e-signatures in a world that increasingly relies on remote interactions.

More Mobile Device Usage

Signing documents remotely is a common theme when discussing electronic signature trends. And part of allowing remote signing is allowing e-signatures to be made on mobile devices. 

To be fair, the use of mobile devices for business purposes is hardly uncommon in this day and age. But with e-signature technology’s ability to interface with content and document management platforms, the use of mobile devices can branch into more and more use cases.

If your digital workspace has a portal that allows access from mobile devices, those mobile devices can be used to provide a signature. And with cloud security and multi-point identity verification protocols in place, you can be sure that your mobile access will be secure.

The Future of Electronic Signatures is Bright

With all of these electronic signature trends, you can project where the technology will be in the next few years. E-signature solutions will be a major factor in the digitization of business processes and document management for years to come.

E-signatures are becoming more and more common across industries and across organizations. Instead of only being used for external contracts, electronic signatures are seeing increased use in internal documentation—in every department of a given organization.

Software like Dropbox Sign even helps your teams automate document generation on top of making the signing process of a given contract a breeze. TEAM IM has even created custom APIs to ensure that your chosen e-signature software will integrate seamlessly with every program and application you need it to augment.

E-signatures are moving toward better authentication, simpler workflows, paperless processes, greater access options, and expanded legality and recognition. 

Electronic signature trends show a technology that already improves an organization’s operational efficiency and push those efficiencies further than ever before. All you need to do is optimize your usage and make sure you have the ability to take advantage of the current and future benefits.

To do that, your best option is to reach out to TEAM IM. We have a group of experts with collective decades of experience in optimizing content management and innovating uses of growing technologies—technologies such as e-signatures.

So don’t wait. See how TEAM IM can set your organization up for a bright future.

You May Also Like

These Stories on Document Management

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think