Sign, Seal, and Deliver with E-Signatures

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The days of waiting for a contract to arrive in the mail may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to e-signature technology. With the mere swipe of a finger on a mobile device or tablet, businesses can complete legally binding transactions in a matter of seconds. Not only does this save companies time and money, but it is also opening new avenues for them to improve customer experiences. A sales rep, for instance, can close new business on the fly while pushing contracts back to the customer record using only his iPad.

This is why Forrester Research predicts that by 2020, the majority of e-signature transactions will occur on mobile devices. According to the Gartner report "The Electronic Signature Market Is Poised to Take Off," the e-signature market grew 48 percent in one year, climbing from $111 million in 2010 to $164 million in 2011, with a similar growth trajectory forecasted for 2012 (last year's stats had not been compiled by press time).

"We're reaching a new beginning of maturity in this space," says Gregg Kreizman, Gartner research vice president and author of the report.

"It's still kind of early, but we're right at the cusp of an inflection point in the market," remarks Kevin M. Lynch, senior vice president and general manager of Adobe Acrobat and Document Services. "About three percent of contracts [as a whole] are signed electronically now, but in the next three to four years, it will probably be fifty percent. We're where we were with digital photography ten years ago, where it seemed like within a two- to four-year period, everyone suddenly had a digital camera."

Acquiring the EchoSign e-signature solution in 2011 gave Adobe more ways to tie together back-end business systems. E-signature is much more than signing on the dotted line. Enterprises are looking for technologies that enable signage as part of a workflow functionality, allowing a business user to sign, deliver, and provide documented proof of a transaction as it occurs, Kreizman notes. Not only does an e-signature guarantee proof of signage, but it records the IP address and time stamp for fraud prevention and auditing purposes as well."

Tommy Petrogiannis, president of Silanis Technology, an e-signature application vendor, calls the impact of mobility the "tipping point" for e-signature solutions. Field sales reps who have the ability to display and sign off on documents in remote and sometimes Wi-Fi-free areas will naturally have a competitive advantage over those limited by connectivity issues.

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