If someone had told you ten – or even just five years ago that you would be able to sign legally binding business documents electronically, would you have believed them? Maybe you imagined a stylus type device used to enter a childlike signature across your PC screen.
What about if someone told you that most business documentation would never see a printer and remain completely virtual, or digital? Or that you could safely pay for items online with just one click (okay, so maybe this was already common ten years ago, but not to the extent it is today).
All that might sound pretty scary – after all, can’t a signature be easily forged? Isn’t it safer to have everything printed out and stored securely in a filing cabinet? Aren’t fraud and online theft good reasons to keep things paper based? No – on all counts!
Since the passing of the global ESIGN Act in 2000, physical signatures are no longer needed – digital signatures are legally binding and carry the same rights as an ink autograph.
There is an important distinction to be made between digital and electronic signatures – electronic signatures are typed or scanned and create no ‘paper trail’, whereas digital signatures are embedded into electronic document and create tamperproof security in an end-to-end process (so if the content of the document changes after the digital signature has been added, this is easy to verify).
Read more about the differences between electronic and digital signatures here.
Apart from being much easier for all parties involved, the business benefits are far reaching:
- 50-80% of business documents are printed only to have a signature – these can now be eliminated
- Processing times can be reduced dramatically
- Administration cost savings are huge (think about the printing, scanning, filing, couriering and delivering costs!) – each paper-based signature is estimated to cost US$6.50, with the average authorized employee signing 500 documents a year for a total cost of US$3250!!
Signatures aren’t the only big change for business – the way we work is changing too thanks to digital documentation. Whether it’s Dropbox, Google Drive or a customised solution, it’s likely that part of your day-to-day operations involves storing and accessing information in the cloud. This way of working is only set to increase, and with it the expectations of increased productivity and efficiency.
Think about your sales team and their daily processes for capturing leads, orders and account information – their time can be better spent closing deals than completing repetitive paperwork. Customers expect more and don’t want their time wasted by completing unnecessary documentation.
Payments are another area where digital is the norm – with the emergence of wearable technologies, customers are now expecting to pay for items with one click of a fingerprint from their phone, tablet and even their watch!
Internally, approvals and workflows for payment processing is becoming more cloud-based and will only increase.
In addition, Bitcoin is forcing us to change the way we see traditional banking and payment services and demanding greater transparency and ease of transfer while maintaining security.
How digital technology is changing the way we approach business is evident across all areas of business, so how can you ride the wave and ensure you’re not left behind with the dinosaurs?
- Review your organisation’s core selling points and assess how disruptive technology might affect them
- Which of your products and services are already digitised and which need to be? (this might be in full or part)
- Which of your internal systems and processes are well aligned with digital practises and which need a major overhaul?
Get our free guide on how to handle payments easily in SAP Business One!
Blue Ocean Systems can help! Contact our team of ERP experts who love to work with SMEs on their digital journey. Let’s talk today.
Note: This story has also been adapted for publication in Steemit.