Nov 04 2021

CDW Tech Talk: How Simple Tools Can Upgrade Your Workflow

Remote work has forced organizations to reconsider their processes, but some common tools can offer game-changing solutions.

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation for many organizations, and all the resulting changes have driven businesses to upgrade their operations in major ways.

Much of the technology implemented during the era of remote work already existed before the pandemic. However, it’s now being applied in new, innovative ways to help operations continue.

Richard McIlroy, CEO of AFTIA, joined CDW’s Tech Talk webcast to discuss some of the tools organizations can leverage for a competitive advantage.

The Pandemic Has Increased the Use of E-Signature Technology

McIlroy acknowledged that while many recent changes have been brought on by the pandemic, some had already begun. “I like to remind people that e-signature adoption was on the rise before the pandemic, year-over-year growth right up until the pandemic. But, of course, the pandemic hit, and there was an explosion, so I would consider the pandemic a catalyst of what was coming.”

The pandemic wasn’t the only factor in the rapid rise of e-signature technology, according to McIlroy. “Demographics was a topic that we discussed with all of our customers pre-pandemic. It was a big thing for us when we were speaking to our customers previously because we wanted them to get in touch with the habits of the Y and the millennial generation, as opposed to the baby boomer generation.”

“It was clear that the Y and the millennial generation were really into e-signature and totally opposed to wet signatures. It used to be a discussion point that we had with all of our customers,” he said. “I will say that since the pandemic, we have not had that discussion with any of our customers.”

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Various Technologies Factor Into the Adoption of E-Signatures

McIlroy said that AFTIA has seen organizations performing document and data capture in all kinds of variations. “We have done a lot of Adobe Experience Manager integrations with Adobe Sign, but what we’re seeing a lot of is Microsoft and Adobe really coming together to make it happen.”

While McIlroy said e-signature technology has been widely adopted, he acknowledged that many companies still aren’t using it to its full potential. “When the pandemic first hit, let’s face it, we had a lot of customers really freaking out,” he explained. “I think what’s happened for some customers is they’ve implemented the most important e-signature and digital workflow solutions that they have, the ones that were most impactful to their businesses. And they’ve stepped back a little bit.”

McIlroy noted that IT decision-making has changed since the onset of the pandemic. “During the pandemic, especially at the start of the pandemic, it was really interesting to watch a lot of departments trading ideas and calling each department and saying, ‘How did you do that? How can we work with that?’ It was emergency response mode,” he said.

Companies had to move quickly to adapt to the changing circumstances of remote work. “What we see is a big change moving forward, especially as organizations realize the competitive advantage of really optimizing digital workflows and e-signature and making them better and expanding them within the organization. We feel that there’s going to be a lot of C-suite interest in these initiatives, and the center of excellence approach really allows you to do it competently. If you’re going to bring it across the enterprise, you don’t want five different departments doing it a different way. You want it to be seamless.”

READ MORE: Learn how Adobe Sign can solve common electronic document management problems.

E-Signature Technology Can Provide a Competitive Advantage

McIlroy said organizations want to do more with these tools. “I think it’s a huge competitive advantage for the companies that are really diving in.”

“We’ve seen a lot of new edge use cases, things that you may not have seen before that are pretty cool,” he continued. “There have been a lot of outdoor festivals, especially over the past four or five months, that are trying to reopen through the pandemic, and they’re using Adobe Sign to preregister people. It’s really saving them.”

For the most part, McIlroy said, he’s seen a lot of optimization of the usual suspects, such as HR documents like employee agreements. “There’s been so much change over the past two years. Employee agreements have evolved. Work-at-home policies are changing every day, so organizations can use digital workflows and e-signature to just re-up those employee agreements as they evolve.”

Both Internal and External Users Reap the Benefits of Digital Workflows

McIlroy said the competitive advantages provided by good e-signature initiatives fall into two categories: internal processes and content experiences.

“I would look at internal processes,” he explained. “You want to make sure that the people who are working from home can do their jobs and that they have access to all of these workflows and that they’re efficient. Employees are saying they’re much more efficient since they’ve been working from home because their organizations have worked to make all their processes digital. It’s also really good for retaining employees.”

Still, he said, the customer’s content experience is even more important than the competitive edge provided by digitizing internal processes. “That content experience that your customer is going to deal with is really, really important. It’s been important throughout the pandemic, and we think it’s going to get even more important.”

“I consider that a definite competitive advantage, but I also consider it a necessity,” he said. “If you’re an organization that has dabbled with e-signature and you just got through the pandemic and you’re surviving, that’s fine. But there are other organizations that are definitely going to be leapfrogging ahead of you, and the customers want this. They’re looking for it.”

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