DocuSign, Momentum, and Einstein’s theory of relativity

DocuSign’s London MOMENTUM’16 conference last week ended with Professor Brian Cox talking about Einstein and ‘thinking about things in a different way.’ While notionally comparing the rise in traction of eSignatures to Einstein’s theory of relativity felt like a bit of a stretch, everyone I spoke to at Momentum certainly seemed to be drinking the DocuSign kool aid.
The head of compliance at a recruitment company was only supposed to attend on the second morning of the two-day conference. Over end-of-conference drinks she confided in me: “After hearing the sessions this morning I phoned up my boss and said ‘I’ve got to stay for the whole day.’ We’ve had DocuSign for three years and haven’t done much with it but things have clearly moved on and I feel like we’ve wasted our advantage.”
Attendees were impressed by the calibre of speakers, who included representatives from some of the corporates now lining up as DocuSign investors and partners. Global strategic investors include SAP, Deutsche Telekom (which signed up as a client 18 months ago), BBVA, Salesforce, Microsoft, Visa, Google, Intel, and Dell, among others, while DocuSign this year announced strategic partnerships with IBM, Cisco and Deloitte. All become part of the DocuSign Global Trust Network.
The conference coincides with EU regulation that as of 1 July will simplify and standardise eSignature laws across member states. eIDAS is expected to accelerate the use of eSignatures, ironing out the cross-jurisdictional minefield that has acted as something of a deterrent, creating a single digital marketplace.
DocuSign has announced a timely ‘Invest for Europe’ initiative, which includes new standards-based signature suite, hybrid cloud deployment offerings, and the development of two further European data centres, bringing the number of European data centres to five.
The hybrid cloud deployment option, available this autumn, allows enterprises to use DocuSign’s standards-based signatures suite while maintaining control over the authentication of signers – as well as the security and residency of their data – all from behind their own firewall.
While DocuSign is certainly leveraging the backing of its major global investors and partners – take a look at some of the heavyweight drum banging quotes below – for some within legal there is a question mark hanging over how seriously it takes the sector. Linklaters in the autumn of 2015 became the first major UK law firm to announce that it has signed up with DocuSign – apparently leading to a stampede of other law firms knocking on the door. But according to one leading legal IT supplier, DocuSign has shown little interest in engagement or collaboration so far.
Certainly it’s still comparatively early days for private practice and many lawyers – particularly disputes lawyers – are still sceptical over how far eSignatures can go in their practice.
Compare that to the likes of HP, which before it split in two at the start of November, used DocuSign to sign 200,000 employment contracts in four days, and you can see why DocuSign might feel it has bigger fish to fry.
The 23 June will see the Law Society of England & Wales bring out its practice note on eSignatures, which is expected to be broadly supportive of their use.
The combination of a Magic Circle firm leading the way, much-needed guidance from the Law Society, and the eIDAS regulations in force, will certainly put DocuSign in a good place.
I suppose all that’s left to say before I go drink what’s left of my kool aid is, Einstein who?
You can read our interview with DocuSign’s global general counsel Reggie Davis and EMEA GC Richard Oliphant in the June Legal IT Insider.
A bit of DocuSign drum banging from their investors/clients:
Tim Hoettges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, chairman of T-Mobile, and board member of BT
“Core to Deutsche Telekom’s success in serving our customers is making the digital transformation to operate as a fully digital business, while bringing innovations in digital technology to our customers.
“DocuSign makes every decision, approval, workflow and signature fully digital so anyone can transact business anytime, anywhere, on any device with trust and confidence. Our strategic relationship with DocuSign as the global standard for Digital Transaction Management has not only become a high priority ingredient in our own digital transformation, but has also helped our customers go digital to keep life and business moving forward.”
Paul Achleitner, chairman of Deutsche Bank and board member of Daimler and Bayer
“DocuSign’s investment in Europe seems perfectly timed for the new regulation taking effect in July.
“The combination of this new regulation change and the expansion of the DocuSign Global Trust Network will facilitate Europe’s digital transformation.”
Jim Hagemann Snabe, board member at the World Economic Forum, SAP, Allianz, Siemens, Maersk Group and Bang & Olufsen.
“At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, global leaders convened to advance the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will transform our world and economies like nothing before.
“The European regulation change will accelerate the DocuSign Global Trust Network to enable fast, frictionless, secure transactions across Europe and around the world.