I do not have a fax machine and this always causes issues when people need my signature so I was interested to learn about EchoSign that provides electronic signature capabilities. I discovered that while this is a very useful function, there is a far more significant advantage with this capability than I first considered. I recently spoke with Jason Lemkin, CEO at EchoSign.
Jason explained that there are two parts to the product and these are contained in the name Echo and Sign. Sign refers to the electronic signature capability and Echo refers to the ability to then use this digitalized signature for the life cycle of related business processes. These combined capabilities take out the last vestige of the analog world from the electronic enterprise and allow taking the entire business process to the cloud, or at least out of the physical world and the need to handle physical objects. I am going to look at both of these capabilities starting with the signature.
The electronic signature feature allows you to complete a sale or other business transaction without a physical object that you need to fax, mail, or otherwise exchange. This greatly simplifies these transactions for both parties. For the seller or sender, interactive, drag and drop input fields let you build each contract to fit the unique needs of transaction. When sending a document for signature, you can simply select input boxes such as “signature,” “initials,” and “date signed” and place them throughout a contract wherever acknowledgment is desired. This drag and drop capability is web based and works with all browsers. Existing Adobe Acrobat and other PDF forms are automatically converted to HTML forms on the fly. Once the HTML forms are signed, EchoSign converts the executed agreement back to PDF format for archiving and storage. Senders can also quickly create and share document libraries for frequently used documents from many sources including Google Docs and Zoho Writer. Here is the setup screen for the sender.
For the signer the EchoSign Signing Wizard offers a step-by-step guide pointing out where a document needs to be initialed or signed, or isn’t signed correctly or completely. When required, you can also sign biometrically with a stylus or a mouse – or on an iPhone or Blackberry. Jason sent a sample document for me to sign. I could type my name and it appeared in the signature field and could also use the cursor to draw my signature. I got the document back in PDF form with a history of the transaction: when it was created by Jason, when it was email to me, when I viewed it, when I signed it, and when it was emailed to me and Jason for our records. This leads to second major benefit area, the after signature processing, sharing, and archiving or as the name implies, the Echo. Here is a sample signed contract.
This is where I got the major “aha” over the benefit. Records handling and archiving has become largely electronic which provides significant benefits and cost reductions to firms. The signature has been the last remaining vestige of the analog world as I mention up front. Now that vestige goes away opening the complete life cycle of transaction to electronic storage, either on premise or in the cloud. You can now get RSS alerts of all aspects of a contract, email alerts as I did on the status, reports can be generated real time on contract status. It allows for the transparency of enterprise 2.0 into the contracting process. Here is a sample home page for the sender that provides a dashboard of transactions.
The full benefit of electronic records management was not possible as long as a physical object was involved. You could scan faxes but that is time consuming and it not likely to happen for high volume, low revenue transactions, but nowthis manual step is removed. A light blub went off for me when Jason, said you could have your boss counter sign and order his iPhone. See sample below.
Electronic signatures could be transformational and EchoSign is now used in over 100 countries. Here is a blog post, E-signing Across the Globe, and in 2013, that Jason wrote talking about the possibilities and the potential legal issues to address. The other issue is Web access. EchoSign is expanding its mobile device capabilities to address the large part of the world that accesses the Web through this means. It will be interesting to see where this goes.