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Digital on on-boarding and e-signatures

Move from paper to e-signatures and digital on-boarding to supercharge customer acquisition

In Article, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Connectivity, Digital Technologies by Scott

About this article

This article looks at how digital technologies, mobile phones, location information and facial recognition are being used to transform how customers interact with and their expectations of businesses that have traditionally relied primarily on paper-based processes and secure high-risk assets, such as oil refineries. Digital on-boarding and e-signatures.

Lawyers, Doctors and Paper-eliminating Technologies

As someone who has spent most of his life in hi-tech environments, it can be easy to forget that not all workplaces enjoy the hi-tech office benefits.

Now, when I say hi-tech benefits, it’s somewhat tongue in cheek, because no matter how technically advanced your office is there are still some truths you can never get away from.

  • The coffee machine (or kettle) will break down, or by the time you get to it the cups will have all gone
  • Your laptop will crash or install a critical update thirty three seconds before you are due to present to a customer
  • Meetings rooms will all be booked until the last Thursday in March, 2032
  • Booked meeting rooms will be empty until you decide to try to use one and then the originally booker will turn up and turf you out.
  • At least 30% of your colleagues can never work out how to use a conference call. If you’ve not seen this video, it is 100% accurate. A conference call in real-life.A conference call in real-life.

There are other differences too, for example, the idea of “my desk” is something I don’t understand anymore. Most office space operate first-come-first-serve hot-desking nowadays.

But the difference I want to talk about here is paper.


Speaking with a (reformed) ex-lawyer recently he was describing how technically-laggard the industry has traditionally been. However, he said, over the last couple of years, there’s been a noticeable split between those who are adopting new technologies, particularly in the realm of “digital onboarding”, and those who still have client files and fax-paper refills stacked in the hall ways.

Integrating technology in your process. Ouch.

Yes, adoption of any new technology can be tricky, but augmenting technology with existing, paper based, it’s-how-we’ve-always-done it processes can sound even more troublesome.

But it needn’t be.

I spent an afternoon last week with a fascinating company to learn about their simple approach to disrupt established ways of doing things in both, their competitive market and their target client’s industries – with, you’ve guessed it, an initial focus on digital on-boarding for lawyers and solicitors.

Their technology enables companies to overlay a digital process with the paper process, creating digital twins of forms and documents that can be integrated with, or converted to native digital counterparts. The demo was really simple and something an admin or office clerk could quite easily do, from start to finish.

But that’s not all. If you’re a paper-driven industry, your customers have certain expectations too. By using this technology a lawyer, solicitor or even doctor can provide a paper-like experience to those who still appreciate that, whilst also providing a more digital experience to the rest of their market.

This has never been more important as digital natives (those generations born in to the digital world) and digital immigrant (generations that created, deployed and adopted digital technologies – such as myself) rapidly outnumber those who are digitally illiterate or just prefer to do it the old fashioned way.

Digitally Disruptive

Beyond a simple and effective on-boarding process, the company’s technology provides capabilities to manage entire customer journeys in industries where the to-ing and fro-ing of paper was deemed as essential, particularly for authorisation through exchanges of signatures.

The world of electronic-signatures (e-signatures) is dominated by a couple of industry giants, who like all giants are a little slow to move, for one reason or another. As such, this has given the company I spoke to an opportunity to innovate and disrupt. Not only are their services significantly more price competitive, but they’ve focused on the fact that most people nowadays expect to do things from their smartphone (a philosophy in the industry known as ‘mobile-first’). This means that whilst their incumbent competitor’s solutions feel clunky and awkward on a smartphone screen, their solutions for e-signatures, digital document and data capture, feel like they’ve been made for it – because they have.

Identify verification and fraud

Most industries are bound by regulation to prove the identities of their customers or partners before entering into financial relationships, a process often referred to as Know Your Customer (KYC). This process is underpinned by real-time verification of the customer’s ID, and for individuals this is often conducted in-person and against a recognised form of government ID, such as passport or official ID card.

This company’s technology uses advanced facial recognition techniques to match the individual against their ID, using sophisticated techniques to detect and reject attempts to defraud the system – eg it knows if you are trying to use a photo of someone’s face instead of a real face.

This is pretty awesome, and I’ve been told even identical twins can’t fool it. I’ve taken this as a challenge and will report back on my findings. But beyond this, the company uses the smartphone’s inbuilt location and GPS functions to record the physical location and match that against expectations. This has many other practical uses too, let’s explore one quickly.

Knock knock

Imagine you run a highly sensitive, or high risk plant, such as an oil refinery. Now imagine a piece of your equipment, perhaps a burner, has failed and you need someone on site immediately to avoid closing the whole plant and loosing millions every day it is out of order. You call the engineering team who dispatch someone immediately.

A little while later, someone turns up at the gate saying they are here to fix the burner. He has what seems to be a valid ID card and seems to match the photo, but this is too high a risk to burden on the security guard alone, so he is instructed to phone through to his management. They ask him if the photo matches, he says yes, it seems to, and the management tell him to wait whilst they call the engineering supplier – who takes a while to pick up the phone. Finally, the voice on the end of the phone says, yes they dispatched him a while ago and he should be there by now. Management gives the ok to the guard and the engineer is let in.

Now let’s imagine we had some new, mobile ready technology to hand.

The guard receives a secure message to his phone from the operations system saying their is a technical issue and to expect an engineer in 20 minutes. The engineer turns up at the gate. The guard clicks the link, takes a picture of the engineer and his ID, within seconds the guard gets the OK to let him in. Burner gets fixed before it becomes a major, revenue impacting situation.

So what just happened?

In the background, the operations system has integrated with the supplier’s system and other government databases to enable real-time dispatch and locations tracking of the engineer to provide the estimated time of arrival, provide live ID checking, facial matching between the Live Photo and ID, and positional and timing matching to make sure the dispatched engineer is at the location reported by the Live Photo. All of this happened in seconds, increasing confidence and security, reducing overhead, human involvement and the opportunity for fraud or compromise.

Pretty impressive, right?!

Want a free introduction to the company?

Ok, so you might not own a pipeline or refinery, but you might work in a lawyers, doctors, solicitors, financial advisors or such. Perhaps you’d like an intro to this company to explore it further? I’m happy to do that for you - no cost, no obligation, just ask.

It could be the beginning of better customer service, improved efficiencies, new products or just boring old cost savings- but it’ll be none of those if you don’t get in touch. Contact me now - like I said, I won’t charge you a penny and you won’t owe me anything (well, maybe a little gratitude when you see the benefit).

Get in touch

Beautiful village in Slovakia, Necpaly, where I wrote about e-signatures and digital on-boardingWhere was this written

I met with the company in Reading, UK, but wrote this article in a little slice of paradise close to the official centre of Europe, in quiet village called Necpaly, Slovakia.

Want to know more?

If this, or any of the other companies I’ve met sound like they could solve your problem, or you just want to know more about what they do, please get in touch, I'd be delighted to make an introduction.

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Scott is an Independent Technology Analyst, Content Writer and Connector of interesting people. Scott is a technologist at heart, with a history of technology innovation and marketing leadership roles. As the founder of this website and several other businesses, he is passionate about helping technology companies communicate their relevance and awesomeness in a way that engages and excites everybody. Get in touch with Scott here or connect with him on LinkedIn. Learn Scott's tips for content marketing, download his free template here..