June 30, 2021
Original Article available at: gartner.com
Market Guide for Electronic Signature
By Tricia Phillips, Brian Lowans
Working life has witnessed an evolution take place, taking it outside the four walls of the traditional office. This evolution has been particularly driven by the emergence of COVID-19 forcing business to digitalize their processes in order to remain competitive. E-signature technology is an essential part of that digitalization because it drives faster closes, shorter time to revenue, increased visibility into document management, higher customer satisfaction and increased security.
This guide provides detailed explanations and descriptions of E-signatures and how they can affect businesses, and the market in which they operate. It also provides a series of recommendations of how to implement E-signatures into a business effectively and efficiently.
Electronic signature adoption has accelerated in the context of remote working and digital transformation, with business process requirements driving solution selection. Security and risk management leaders must work with business leaders to address security, compliance, legal and business needs.
The dramatic global increase in remote work has increased the need for business-accessible electronic signatures for a variety of use cases, both internal and external (customer, partner or vendor).
Organizations that had not converted paper processes to digital workflow prior to the pandemic are the most likely to turn to workflow-focused electronic signature solutions to fill the gap in their digital business capabilities for policy-driven use cases. Many of these use cases would previously not have been candidates for electronic signatures, but they do require the capture and storage of consent or agreement.
Even though electronic signature business requirements are typically well-defined, the technical, regulatory and legal requirements vary by country, complicating cross-border use cases. More countries are requiring digital signatures supported by high-assurance digital identity schemes, and the combination of multicloud integrations and data residency requirements increases the complexity of choices for global deployments.
Electronic signature products continue to evolve with new features, but the marketplace is becoming ever more competitive for a large portion of the market that only needs the core capabilities.
Security and risk management leaders responsible for the security of applications and data and electronic signature technologies should work with line-of-business leaders to:
Create an inventory of electronic signature use cases across the enterprise and classify them by business process, authentication and identity proofing requirements, region or country, document retention requirements, and legal risk.
Identify the jurisdictional requirements for each use case and select products that can integrate with government-sanctioned certificate authorities, trust service providers and/or digital identity schemes, as needed.
Evaluate each applicable business process to determine the need for native management and workflow capabilities, as well as integration with COTS applications (such as CRM and CLM systems) or custom-built applications via APIs.
Optimize spending by identifying and excluding use cases that can be served through existing efficiencies and, as such, do not require electronic signatures.
Increase price competitiveness by prioritizing core capability requirements in the negotiations with potential vendors.