Paris, June 9th, 2020 — Oodrive, the European leader in sensitive data management, commissioned OpinionWay to conduct a study of French companies with 500 employees or more to explore the perception of electronic signatures and how they are currently used. The study, which was conducted before the lockdown period, found electronic signatures were used infrequently despite being a key tool for ensuring business continuity. This has led to a strong increase in demand for electronic signature solutions during the lockdown, a trend which seems set to continue despite a gradual return to normal activity.
Before COVID-19: limited use of electronic signatures
While nearly 9 out of 10 executives sign multiple documents per week—and 55% sign documents daily—only 8% have gone fully digital! 1 employee in 2 with access to an electronic signature solution still alternates between paper and digital versions.
The study, which was conducted prior to the COVID-19 health crisis, found that, within companies that use electronic signature solutions, Finance Departments use them the most (73% of users), far more than Legal (43%), Purchasing (43%) and Sales (25%) departments.
Only 19% of study respondents said they use electronic signatures to sign B2B client contracts. However, these users clearly perceive benefits. These benefits include: time saved (66%), simplified business processes (63%) and savings on paper and shipping costs (32%). Electronic signatures are especially popular for their ease of use (89%) and for facilitating stress-free archiving once documents are signed (57%).
COVID-19: a sharp and sudden slowdown for many businesses
Before COVID-19, hardly any companies were ready to transition to 100% telework. Chances are strong that the many figures to be published in the next few weeks will show that companies with a more developed digital transformation strategy will have demonstrated more resilience during the lockdown.
Many companies that do not use electronic signature solutions have seen a sharp and sudden slowdown in activity. At times, they have been unable to sign client contracts or initiate new service requests. The slowdown in postal and courier services has exacerbated the situation. Many companies have found it physically impossible to securely send paper documentation, a challenge compounded by the extra headache of the closure of companies’ headquarters. Where, and to whom, should registered mail be sent now? Lastly, the challenges are even greater for documents which the require the signatures of multiple company directors. All these issues have inevitably led to file processing delays and a slowdown in activity.
COVID-19’s impact on electronic signatures
In early 2020, companies still viewed electronic signature technology as a luxury. Almost half of French companies with 500 employees or more did not use electronic signatures. And, when an electronic signature solution was rolled out, in most cases it was only implemented by fewer than three departments in the company. The current crisis has underlined the importance of digitalization tools in general, and electronic signatures in particular, for ensuring business continuity. Solidarity initiatives launched during lockdown have helped to increase awareness of the importance of digitalization. For example, Oodrive offered companies a 3-month subscription to its electronic signature solution. Over the past two months, the European leader in sensitive data management has recorded a 200% increase in subscriptions to its electronic signature service. Performance is set to keep improving as many companies continue teleworking in the months ahead and social distancing measures continue to be imposed in order to combat COVID-19. Teleworking is now perceived as an entirely separate measure from organizations’ business continuity plans. To remain resilient, organizations need the right tools and equipment.
Stéphane Ankaoua, COO of Oodrive, commented: “COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for many companies. From now on, there is no question they will invest more heavily in paperless solutions, particularly for collaborative processes and internal and external signatures. The implementation of electronic signature solutions will inevitably be a top priority. Soon, electronic signatures will become a mainstay of executives’ daily routines. We have no doubt that in the near future finance departments will not be the only departments to take full advantage of electronic signature solutions. Once companies test an electronic signature solution, they don’t go back. Companies which have treated the crisis as an opportunity to make the transition will only continue to move forward.”
*The study Oodrive commissioned from OpinionWay was conducted by phone. The sample size for the study was 200. Participants in the study were managers employed by French companies with 500 employees or more, from across all sectors. The study was carried out between February 10th and February 28th, 2020.