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Digital transaction management: The 'last mile' in paperless business

Companies often regress to paper processes because they aren't ready to digitize the 'last mile' of signature. Enter digital transaction management.

As companies become increasingly global -- with work processes that span multiple countries, people and workflows -- making work digital rather than paper-based is critical.

But for many companies, nagging hurdles have prevented truly digitizing work processes, including "last-mile" processes such as using digital signatures to approve electronic files.

While a company might create a real estate contract electronically and circulate it to recipients in email, it hasn't been uncommon for a customer to derail digitization by then printing out the document to sign it, then fax or mail it in to an office. The receiving company might then have to scan it back in with the digital signature included before the electronic trail could resume. Combining digital signature with other electronic practices, such as electronic workflow, has become increasingly important to creating digital-first strategies that are more efficient, automated, accurate and secure.

Companies like DocuSign, which specializes in digital transaction management, are trying to digitize processes from start to finish. The technology integrates with applications like Salesforce, Workday and SAP ERP to enable automated workflows, digital signature and secure, encrypted files.

SearchCRM talked with Keith Krach, the CEO of DocuSign, which specializes in digital transaction management, about how the company is evangelizing a digital universe, the importance of common standards, and hopes for new rollouts at Dreamforce 2014.

Keith KrachKeith Krach

Tell me about your business.

Keith Krach: This new category has emerged, digital transaction management, that allows anyone to transact anything, anywhere on any device securely. That can create a lot of efficiencies in terms of turnaround time and paper saved.

If someone sends out a contract or proposal, it allows them to not only transact with that signature electronically but it gives an audit trail of who signed what, when and where; it basically allows anyone to take a document from anywhere, put workflows around it and send that document around to people who need to sign off on it, with multiple levels of identification. It used to take days or weeks to sign off on a document. Now, 60% of proposals are Docu-Signed and provisioned in less 15 minutes.

Second, our encryption technology as well as our bank-class security reduces risk for security and compliance. The ability to secure the transaction is a major factor for companies and goes well beyond electronic signature.

When I talk to companies about digitizing their processes, they often say that digital signature has been why they can't digitize completely -- either they don't have the software or their customers aren't ready for it. How are you the last mile in solving this problem?

Krach: Not only are we the last mile. It's really the last un-automated process. When it comes to doing a transaction, and you need a signature, the process breaks. That's when you get out the fax, the paper and pen, scanning printing and overnight delivery.

Is there still a place for physical transactions?

Krach: We used to say that by the end of the decade, the vast majority of signatures would be electronic. What we talk about now is that by the end of the decade every successful company will be fully digital. Maybe there will be that .001% that you have to do it on paper -- and even that's changing.

How important is interoperability to digital transaction management?

Krach: We have 90 out-of-the-box integrations. We use a REST API [application programming interface] to do those integrations. If a customer has to integrate with a 20-year-old back-end system, we can do it. We're really that connecting glue. That's why we can thrive with all these heterogeneous systems talking to one another.

What are you looking forward to seeing at Dreamforce 2014?

Krach: The ability to run on any device is huge for us. The big thing driving our business is mobility. With the iPhone 6, fingerprint identification -- all that stuff is really driving our business.

For more on the Salesforce conference, check out our DF14 guide here. Share or retweet this story at #DF14.

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