28 June, 2012
“In a networked world, trust is the most important currency.” Eric Schmidt
Cloud computing represents a major transformation in the way companies leverage information and appeals with its offer of a one-stop-shop, cost-effective, hassle-free, and efficient business environment. Acting Deputy Director General of Information Society and Media for the European Commission, Megan Richards, emphasised during her speech at the Cloud Computing World Forum conference in London (15 June 2012) the sizable market and ever growing trend that is expected to reach 11 billion in revenue by 2014, representing 3.6 percent of the total IT market.
Nevertheless, the cloud’s birth and existence has challenged, and still does, one of the crucial components in any type of relationship – trust! From a ‘face-to-face’, on-premise, product-based, controlled IT business environment, to externally service-based sourced operations. In his book The Big Switch, Nicholas Carr shows an historic analogy that brilliantly reflects the effects of a similar significant shift that took place in the 19th Century: the evolution of power plants. At the time, companies who usually generated their own power from in-house steam engines and dynamos, have gradually plugged into the cheap power that was generated from newly built, professionally run, centralised electric grid of electric utilities.
Trust in cloud computing, or concerns over it, refer to the characteristics of the technology (reliability, security) as much as to legislation, governance, and organisational issues. While some aspects can be overcome only by government legislations and regulations, or are associated to the psychological, behavioural, and technical customer’s ‘time-of-adaption’, others are directly linked to practices and steps taken by the cloud provider.
- Security - When communicating sensitive documents for signing purposes in the Cloud, comprehensive security measures have exceptional importance. The Secured Signing’s user-based PKI digital signature technology provides each user with a unique digital ID (signing key) that is accessible only to that user. The system instantly seals the signed document, and any changes made invalidate the signatures. Furthermore, users have the ability to verify their signatures offline any time at their desktop / mobile device, or at the Secured Signing’s Free Verification Service.
- Reliability - Business reliability is an essential indicator of the attitude, actions, and results derived from a service. Continuous setting of goals, ongoing development, and regular quality evaluation and monitoring are at the heart of the Secured Signing digital signature cloud service. Constant online signing performance assessments and follow-through processes ensure customers’ satisfaction: “The Secured Signing solution impressed us instantly with its high level of security, capabilities, and seamless implementation” Gadi Hadar, Managing Director at Asia Pacific Easy-Forex.
- Open communication – The fundamental shift in human communication behaviour requires cloud services to acknowledge and respond to their digitally aware clients. Successful communication is associated with trust and influences brand loyalty that will guarantee commitment of even geographically dispersed customers. With the apparent value of multiple ways for communicating (via e-mail or direct phone with the service provider), it’s the prompt, approachable, and responsive service that creates the difference: “Secured Signing was very fast and responsive whenever we asked for something. Their customer service is amazing.” Kym Volp, Queensland State Manager, Evolve Scientific Recruitment.
Till next time,
15 June, 2012
“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.” Bill Gates
Digital Mobile, Vodafone’s largest New Zealand dealer, provides a great example of this phrase’s validity. They were looking for a technological solution that would allow them to securely and efficiently streamline and speed-up customers’ contract signing. To find one that would comply with legal and industry requirements wasn’t an easy task. Nevertheless, Digital Mobile’s managers who recognised the need to replace their paper-based signup system and reduce customer frustration at filling in forms found their answer in Secured Signing’s comprehensive customised solution.
To meet Digital Mobile’s particular needs, Secured Signing’s PKI digital signature service developed a tailored system that uses a PDF of each of the Vodafone ordering forms, produces web-based adaptations, and adds business rule validation to each of them. The inclusive solution allows signatories to sign online with their PC or a mobile device (iPad, iPhone, Android); it manages signing and follow-up procesess, sends reminders, and provides all parties with a prompt PDF of the signed electronic contract and a precise tracking record of all activities.
“We needed a solution that worked both on-site with a customer and remotely via email, and were able to implement it quickly and easily,“ said Ben Smyth, Digital Mobile’s Sales Manager-Northern. “We’ve seen a total elimination of errors in the move away from paper. The benefits have been instantly realised by our sales workforce, our processing team, and our customers.”
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30 May, 2012
A recent article by Michael Foreman (24 May 2012) highlighted issues discussed at the latest IBM annual Impact conference in Las Vegas. He quoted keynote speaker Marie Wieck, IBM’s General Manager of Application and Integration Middleware, who in her presentation, stressed that new technologies including cloud, social, and mobile, create “a new set of external stakeholders” that are essential and beneficial to any business, and should be responded to with a joined dialogue. Wieck presented IBM’s survey of more than 700 CIOs, which revealed that 75 percent of them are currently engaged in the development of mobile strategies. She concluded saying: “it’s time to rethink IT and reinvent business.”
Secured Signing’s digital signature service does just that! It has reinvented the online signing process and introduced Form n’Go, a mobile compliant application of advanced electronic signatures. Secured Signing’s Form n’Go enables users to invite signatories to promptly fill-in any type of document and sign online from their mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, and Android) whether they are at work, at home, or on-the-go. In addition, it offers an innovative locator functionality that identifies the precise location of signatories, and adds an extra layer of security and assurance. The secured user-based PKI digital signature technology seals the document instantly after an invitee eSigns, and automatically e-mails it in a PDF format to all parties involved.
Ted Schadler, John McCarthy, and All from Forrester Research wrote in a recent report that “By 2016, smartphones and tablets will put power in the pockets of a billion global consumers. Mobile is not simply another device for IT to support with a shrunken website or a screen-scraped SAP application. Rather, mobile is the manifestation of a much broader shift to new systems of engagement. These systems of engagement help firms empower their customers, partners, and employees with context-aware apps and smart products.”
Secured Signing’s Form n’Go is a manifestation of just such successful engagement.
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18 May, 2012
The use of electronic technology in the legal profession is not new. Large and small law practices are using computers for legal research, management of client cases, and tracking of working hours, as well as exchange of relevant disclosed information including police / medical / financial reports. Nevertheless, even today, dealings with legal representatives require a large amount of paper handling for all parties involved.
Georgina Dent’s article in the Financial Review (10 May, 2012) explored the transition to electronic processes with legal corporate practitioners who identified and acknowledged the additional advantages of using the advanced technology, among them the streamlining of transactions, improved communication, accessibility, and simpler and shorter business processes. However, they also identified the need for more formal reforms by regulators and governments, and most importantly, a shift in mindset.
While regulations for the signing of electronic documents were established in most countries worldwide during the last decade (Electronic Transactions Act in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, China, and the European Union), it is sectors such as real estate, recruitment, finance, healthcare, and local government rather than legal firms that regularly incorporate the use of electronic signatures and signing of documents online, and enjoy the benefits described above. This happens mainly due to their security worries, particularly with the Public Cloud environment.
A solution that satisfies their concerns lies with the User-Based PKI digital signature technology. The technology provides each user with a unique signing key (Digital ID) that is accessible only to that user. The signed document is sealed, and any changes made to the document invalidate the signatures. With the Secured Signing solution, the signed document can be verified either on the free Verification Service, or offline, for long-term archiving, anytime at the user’s Desktop.
“As an owner of two law offices 700 kilometres apart, Secured Signing enables me to keep our files flowing in real time – quickly, securely, and efficiently, whether I happen to be in one office or the other.” Robert Riopelle, Lawyer, Managing Partner, Riopelle Griener, Professional Corporation
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4 May, 2012
A recent article (22 April, 2012) by Brandon Bailey discussed the 2011 performance of businesses in Silicon Valley. Not surprisingly, Apple led the 150 large companies with $128 billion in annual sales, and astonishingly, nearly $33 billion profit. However, the picture across the board revealed mixed results, particularly when compared to 2010 figures. Slow financial recovery in the US, economic chaos in Europe, and Asia’s natural disasters, are all legitimate contributors according to Bailey. Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions that mainly come from “related trends- such as the explosive growth of social networking, cloud computing, and big data.”
Any conclusion? While keeping in mind the ever-changing scenario of technological trends, it is obviously best to be on the side of current proven winning technology, whether as a manufacturer, consumer, or user. A recent KPMG report on the impact of cloud computing in Australia states: “it is clear from KPMG’s analysis that, should Australian organisations adopt cloud platforms as expected across their ICT requirements – as more mature markets such as the US suggest is likely – then the benefits at both the enterprise and aggregate economy level could be substantial.” It continues to say: “These include lowering ICT operation and capital expenditure by up to 25 percent and 50 percent respectively.” (The Australian, 2 May, 2012)
Whilst a conservative approach for handling budget and expenses would always require a careful review (of both), and a ‘stick to budget’ attitude, the ‘upgrade your technology’ rule should never be neglected, especially in the current business environment. Secured Signing’s digital signature cloud-based solution is no exception; businesses that choose to sign documents online with the Secured Signing service eliminate the printing, scanning, document storage, delivery, and handling of paper all together. Implementing eSignature service saves time, cuts operational and processing costs, expedites the entire business workflow, and frees up staff, budget, and other resources for their core business.
Sophie Beers, Yarra Ranges Council’s Procurement Officer concluded her exceptionally positive experience with the advanced electronic signature solution: “Time frames for signature on Evaluation Reports and Contracts have reduced from 1-2 weeks to a matter of an afternoon. Cost and time saving is literally immeasurable, and has paved the way for us to move wholly into paperless office.”
I rest my case.
Till next time,