A truly singular event is occuring this week. Facebook, the defining company of Web 2.0, is going public. This is a fun, terrific event for all of us in technology, and at EchoSign, we're especially proud to have had Facebook as an EchoSign customer since 2007.
It also marks the end of an era, the era in which e-signatures (and EchoSign) went from an idea to mainstream. The end of the era of Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 meant different things for different segments of the web. For consumer apps, it meant social. For business apps, it came to mean collaboration and web-centered customer interaction, and the rise of SaaS. What both have in common, is Web 2.0 was the (r)evolution of when and where everyone, consumers and businesses alike, had and used the internet every day, throughout their businesses and lives.
When EchoSign launched to the public on January 1, 2006 (Facebook was still college-only then), businesses were really just getting into trusting the internet for critical business processes. For example, we learned earlier this year that when BT adopted EchoSign in 2006 it was their very first SaaS app - ever. Yes, this sounds almost quaint today when every Fortune 500 company runs a suite of SaaS and web apps. But it was novel back then, as internet ubiquity and reliability enabled every salesperson, for example, to connect with, sign deals with, and close their customers over the internet.
In 2006, we made an assumption that every business had access to the internet, but no one was going to bother using a scanner to sign, and no one wanted to use a fax. So using a 100% web-based, platform agnostic service to sign and close deals would be 10x better. And so it was.
But now mobile and the iPad/tablets have changed everything, as has Adobe Reader. The internet is everywhere and 100% mobile, and we bring our own devices to work. Now, or in short order, everyone will have a way to digitally add their signature to a document on their ipad/mobile device/PC built into Adobe Reader and basically built into their device -- since Adobe Reader is the predominant way PDFs are viewed on mobile devices and 99% of laptops and desktops. At least 1,000,000,000 now do or soon will have Reader on the device, ready to use to digitally sign any document sent to them, anytime. Without even have to go a website at all, or learn anything new.
So a new core workflow exists. Scanners and fax machines are not only irrelevant, but no longer even the issue. If someone sends you a document to sign, you can just use your device, use Mobile or Desktop Reader (or other apps).
Or put differently, when you send a customer a document in 2012, you aren't banishing them to the awful experience of a fax machine, as you were in 2006. Anyone can sign on their iPad now, digitally. So mobile + Reader really changes everything in giving everyone, everywhere, in any language and country, a 100% free, simple, intuitive way to sign something sent to them, using software already installed on their device.
So where does this leave EchoSign and e-signatures? Pushed, like the rest of the web, to the next level. Because "digital" signatures are now a ubiquitous, free, built-in part of the web world. Period.
This was the theme of our 2012 user conference - Web Contracts. EchoSign allows you to do much more than a signature. It allows you to create and store forms and securely extract data from them in real time. Track signatures from 100s or even 1000s. Dynamically generate contracts and templates from Salesforce, NetSuite, SAP or Oracle data. Pull documents from the Cloud, from Box, from DropBox, from Evernote, from Huddle, from wherever.
In other words, webifying your entire contracting process. Whether you a company of 1, or 100,000.
Making your entire contracting process one-click simple, or the "Echo" part of our app and vision, is 100% of our continued focus in the next phase.
You can even hear it from Facebook itself, below ;)
Rock on guys, this week.