Digital transformation has been a hot topic for some time now. If businesses are not talking about “going paperless”, they are talking about cloud-enabled business processes. IDC recently predicted that by the end of 2019, digital transformation spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide, which represents a 42 per cent increase from 2017.
As companies gear up for the transition away from paper, a wide range of technologies are coming to the fore, each with its own benefits and promises to expedite the digital transformation process. It has also been interesting to see the emergence of many longstanding technologies that have been given a new lease of life with the push for digitisation.
For example, electronic signature technology has been around for years (since the early 90s) but its adoption has only really begun to accelerate recently. A new report from Forrester highlighted 25 e-signature implementations in the US and Europe, and acknowledges the steady adoption of the technology by organisations of all sizes and industries. SaaS platforms have reduced deployment times and simpler navigation and authentication steps have helped to spur adoption.
Digital transformation is evidently an ongoing process but many businesses are struggling to make the necessary progress. The same report from IDC estimated that 59 per cent of companies are stuck at either stage two or three of digital transformation maturity, in other words, a “digital impasse”. And this can be for a variety of reasons – from employee skills gaps poor user experiences to inadequate technology. Achieving digital transformation doesn’t have to be challenging, however. So, to ease the process of making it all happen, we’ve put together some suggestions on what organisations can look out for on the road to digital transformation.
Within all businesses and institutions, regardless of size and sector, there are endless opportunities to replace paper processes with digital workflows. Internal processes (HR, accounting, legal), B2B processes (contracts with vendors) and B2C processes (documents signed by consumers) are all key areas where a digital transformation strategy can be implemented.
Because of this, companies should consider adopting flexible solutions that can be used across a wide number of cases. For example, an internal process that requires employees’ signatures may require a simpler form of authentication such as single sign-on (SSO). A legally enforceable transaction with a vendor or customer, on the other hand, may require stronger authentication depending on factors such as the value of the transaction and level of risk involved.
As well as flexible solutions that can be implemented across a wide number of use cases, it’s also good to invest in technology that can handle a range of authentication options. Most businesses won’t be limited to one channel, and different channels require different levels of authentication. For example, an electronic document signing process that occurs face-to-face in the branch will not use the same authentication method as a remote transaction.
Biometrics such as thumbprint and facial recognition are a new option for authenticating and while it is still early days, Forrester suggests that “over the next three years, authentication will migrate to biometric alternatives that have an easier customer experience and leverage advancing analytics.”
If businesses are going to invest in different technologies to enhance the digital experience, they should ensure that they integrate with each other. Ideally, biometrics, fraud analytics, and mobile e-signature technologies should all integrate and come together to deliver secure and convenient mobile experiences.
Risk vs customer experience
While authentication and security are important in any transition from paper to digital, businesses still need to keep customer experience at the forefront of their minds. Reducing costs, streamlining processes and staying secure are all well and good, but if a process or solution is overly complex, it will naturally inhibit adoption, possibly resulting in more harm than good.
As businesses look to digitise their paper process, they should start familiarising themselves with the processes, requirements and risk tolerance already in place.
Ultimately the choice of authentication method will depend on the risk profile of the process being automated and the underlying digital transaction. To conclude, organisations must be confident that the service they are providing meets the needs of their users, by offering flexible solutions that can handle various authentication processes, while also providing high quality customer experience.
Rahim Kaba, director of product marketing, eSignLive by VASCO