Digital transformation and automation have turned electronic signatures into a business necessity and a legitimate replacement for traditional wet signatures. In light of this, businesses can no longer ignore digital signatures.

Although similar, electronic signature and digital signature are not synonyms. A digital signature is a technique that protects documents and identifies the signer of the document. It indicates the signer’s acceptance of the electronic agreement or electronic record. Typically, digital signatures use some form of authentication to verify the signer’s identity, such as a password or a One-Time-Pin (OTP) sent to a mobile phone.

“If your organisation works with a large number of physical documents daily, consider implementing digital signatures. Not only will digital signatures pave the way to a paperless future, but they will also make your signing workflows more efficient and increase productivity,” says Riaan de Villiers, business analyst at LAWtrust.

A recent study by American software company PandaDoc shows that companies that use e-signatures see up to a 28% increase in their document close rate. In addition, cutting out the burdensome process of hand-signing documents, especially when multiple signatures are required, significantly reduces friction in the approval process.

Here are four essential things De Villiers believes South African businesses must know about digital signatures:

* Higher levels of safety and security: Digital signatures protects an organisation’s employees and documents. Strong cryptographic techniques protect the document against tampering, and the authentication process protects employees against identity theft and impersonation.

* Paperless Environment: It is hard to manage many business papers and documents regularly. It demands a lot of time and energy to handle the paperwork that could have been spent on other business activities. Storing paperwork also requires a lot of space. In addition, business expansion requires more paperwork, and organisations will need more space to keep those business papers. Digital signatures allow businesses to reduce their reliance on paper and be kinder to the environment.

* Workflow efficiency: With fewer delays, digital signatures ensure better efficiency in document signing workflows. Managing and tracking documents is easier and faster. Processes that usually take months from the time a copy is requested until received can be done in considerably less time. They also make it easier to organise information and documents. Searching a digital document repository is easier and faster than searching through paper documents stored in file cabinets or boxes. An excellent digital signing solution will allow organisations to track their signing workflows and send notifications to users to let them know that documents require their attention.

* Higher Client Satisfaction: Every business needs to keep the clients happy and satisfied. Digital signatures help you to achieve a higher level of client satisfaction. It is one of the most common reasons why businesses are adopting digital signatures at a higher rate. Digital signatures will allow you to share documents online with your clients in minutes (independent of their location and distance where they are). This way, you will give your clients the ability to sign anytime, anywhere, and from any device. With digital signatures, the signing process becomes so much more straightforward, smoother, and streamlined.

“Digital signing solutions can help your organisation save time, money and space, providing better security while improving productivity and cutting down on paperwork,” concludes De Villiers.