Businesses that fail to digitise risk eroding brand reputation and customer loyalty, according to research by e-signature provider DocuSign.
The study, Digitise or die: Australia’s digital expectations, involved a survey of 1000 employed customers plus more than 100 senior decision makers across various business departments. Key findings included
- Four in five (80%) consumers view a company as outdated or worse, inconvenient to deal with, if they don’t offer digital ways of doing business.
- Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of individuals reported experiencing problems in completing a transaction during the last 12 months relating to paper and manual processes.
- Nine in ten decision makers (89%) rank the need to digitise as a top priority, with around half of those nominating it as the number one priority.
- Amongst senior decision makers in organisations with more than 1000 employees, 64% had a project delayed by the IT department compared with just 36% of those in SMBs.
The research was the focus of a recent DocuSign event where a panel of speakers discussed the implications of failing to digitise.
Here are some of the key take-away message from the panel, which featured Newton as well as Mike Hulse (Senior Director, Recruiting at Salesforce) and Joanne Jacobs (Digital strategist & Co-founder of the Disruptor’s Handbook):
- Don’t ‘silo’ digital transformation: Hulse said that rather than treating digital transformation as ‘buzz word’ and a ‘separate agenda’ with its own budget, businesses should simply view the adoption of digital technologies as a means to drive efficiencies, deliver better customer experiences, streamline processes and, ultimately, become more profitable. Jacobs agreed with Hulse, warning organisations not to ‘silo’ digital transformation. Similarly, she noted that digital transformation can help break down silos that develop within organisations: “The more technology people have access to, the more likely it is they’ll engage with people across different departments, not just at the water cooler”.
- A culture of risk aversion: Newton said a corporate culture of ‘nanny-state’ risk-aversion has delayed the adoption of digital solutions such as eSignatures. He explained, “When the same policies have been relied on for decades, they’re very easy to enforce. Saying ‘no’ to something new is a lot easier than having to change the policy and get everyone across it due to risk and compliance. For us, it’s about educating the right people and empowering them to say ‘yes’.
- Startups will get ahead: Hulse said that startups are setting the digital agenda, and the more established companies need to watch out. He explained, “Newer, more agile more nimble startups, such as fintechs, start off using processes that are digital, and start off using efficient and fast and online systems. They’re the ones growing the fastest, and the bigger players are having to react to seeing their market share eroded.”
- Misinformation and confusion: According to Newton and Jacobs, misinformation and confusion about the law have been barriers to the adoption of eSignatures. Jacobs expressed frustration with people who tell her she cannot e-sign a document: “If it’s being digitised anyway, why on earth won’t a digital version of my signature be accepted? People don’t understand the law and the context in which digital signatures can be accepted”. Newton stated that it is legal to sign a contract in Australia electronically, so long as it complies with the Electronic Transactions Act 1999; however, he admitted, “the Act needs to be updated to provide clarity… we’ve worked with various legal firms to resolve some of the confusing elements of the Act.”
- A matter of ongoing education: Newton said ongoing education was needed to increase the uptake of digital solutions. In Jacobs’ view, education should cover the opportunity cost of failing to adopt digital tools, including lost time – specifically, organisations needed to have a greater awareness of “the cost of utilising a digital solution in comparison to the cost of paying for staff to do the same kinds of transactions”.
- The role of business leaders: Jacobs indicated that business leaders have a role to play in normalising the use of digital technologies, especially in cases where the IT department is ‘nervous’ about integrating new technology into a closed system: “Having the CEO utilising new technologies ensure the rest of the team is allowed to adopt those technologies”.
See also: Electronic signatures: what are the benefits?