​The digital age extends to the bottom-line – even when it comes to signing on it!

By Chandra Sinnathamby, Adobe APAC’s Head of Document Cloud Solutions

Our recent Adobe eSignatures Australian Market Study found that by 2020 Australians will perform 100 million eSignature transactions annually – averaging four transactions for every Australian – but the nation’s businesses are sluggish to embrace this exciting new development.

In terms of competitiveness and survival in a digital world, it’s essential for businesses to embrace this growing technology, as more than 700 million transactions are predicted to use electronic signatures globally in 2017. Business who take up the new technology will certainly benefit from the faster, more convenient, and secure eSignature process.

As a nation of early tech adopters, Australia’s businesses are well placed to take advantage of new digital opportunities. However, despite this reputation, Australians lag when it comes to the uptake of digital business trends. New research from Adobe and Forrester has found that over 80% of Australian businesses are unprepared to reap the potential benefits of the imminent eSignature revolution.

An electronic signature, or eSignature, is a legal way to give and receive consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. Australian businesses spend countless hours hunting down approvals and ink signatures, followed by laborious printing, scanning, faxing and mailing of documents to get the job done. The resulting delays can frustrate customers, business partners and employees alike—and ultimately reflect poorly on the company. Introducing eSignatures drastically streamlines document processing and ultimately makes doing business more efficient.

In addition to exponential growth projections for the eSignature market, our study found that by 2020, one in every 10 global eSignature transactions are expected to be completed in the Australian market. Considering this, it would be wise for Australian enterprises to capitalise on this trend.

While eSignatures allow for a frictionless customer experience, organisations can also save time and money by eliminating inefficiencies in their business models, while increasing visibility into core business functions. Businesses can now follow and track the whole transaction process without needing to sift through an excess of paperwork. In fact, eSignatures’ potential for streamlining processes is so great that 92% of businesses surveyed believe the technology would reduce IT operating costs by as much as 15%.

An element preventing businesses from adopting eSignatures is the misconception that the technology is not secure. A number of digital methods, including SSL encryption and passcodes, are used to secure documents, and keep information protected. Adobe Sign protects your data with industry-leading security standards and provides a signature certificate to verify the audit trail. eSignatures are a highly secure way to sign documents, limit waste and speed up processes.

These signature certificates provide unique document fingerprints, IP addresses of the signers, and time stamps indicating when the document was signed. It is also important to acknowledge that eSignatures are completely legal in Australia, where the law recognises them as no different from a paper contract.

In the evolution of technology, new transaction methods have always been met with resistance, yet it is only a matter of time until eSignatures are accepted without hesitation. Take Tap & Go payments -- while consumers were initially concerned about the security of the technology, it is now one of the most preferred forms of payment in Australia. Widespread adoption of Tap & Go also led to the emergence of PayTag stickers which transformed customer’s mobiles into e-wallets, enabling users to make contactless purchases with a wave of their phone. Another example of resistance to new technology is self-service checkouts which Australians were slow to accept, but are now the standard at most supermarkets.

As was the case for mobile payments, limited business acceptance of eSignatures is one of the final barriers standing between Australians and paperless living. The results of the research are clear - Australian businesses need to embrace eSignatures, as the market increasingly demands flexibility and productivity to deliver an efficient and superior customer experience.

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