A Paperless Business and 5 Ways You Can Achieve It Now

Achieve a paperless business with Signority

Read on to learn about the five ways you can turn your business into a paperless business – today.

Flashback: it’s 1980.

Inflation is creeping higher and Americans are helplessly watching their purchasing power vanish into thin air. Retirement funds dwindle while it gets harder to put food on the table. The dollar’s inflated to 10% and everyone’s worrying about buying things before they go up in price. Anxious consumers are purchasing goods the same way squirrels pack away nuts for winter.

Problem is, this ever-consuming loop of fear is actually driving prices higher. Fear contributes to a rapid, debilitating buying cycle. And as prices go up, employees ask their bosses for a raise. Bosses comply with wishes, left with no choice but to raise prices. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy of inflated prices.

But here comes Paul Volcker, the newly appointed Federal Reserve Chairman. Notorious for his devil-may-care attitude and allowing his socks fall scrunched about his ankles, he’s intent to fix the economic mess. His way.
Traditionally, inflation is supposed to stop once you stop printing money. Volcker’s stopped the presses, yet things just keep getting worse! Having iced the economy, we’re in a recession now too, and Volcker is facing an uproar.

But he’s sticking to his principles, cool and collected. Winter is coming, heck, it’s already here – but the Fed Chair knows that a frozen economy must thaw before financial security springs anew.
What did Volcker do to end the woes of inflation?

He showed the American people that the problem was all in our heads. He didn’t succumb to convention, refused to print more money, and made us all stand firm. This is what allowed the dollar correct itself. We had to stop worrying and just accept things as they were for a season.

By the end of a 1981, inflation dipped to 9% – then 6%, then 4%. Since then, inflation has remained relatively tame at around 2%.

What does inflation have to do with the paperless office?

The obstacles to a paperless office are in your head. Just like inflation.

Paper consumption and papertrail headaches are a ‘mo’ paper, mo’ problems’ scenario in the modern office. Since the “paperless office” was heralded in 1978, we’ve all looked ahead to a space-age time where we’d save trees and feel great about it – all while increasing efficiency and productivity.

Well, that time is now.

The Modern Paperless Office

You still with us after that Doctor Who-style history lesson?

Now in the present day, we’re enjoying a wireless age of information that empowers us to send, receive, and consume immense amounts of data formerly reserved only for sheets of paper. The internet and cloud platforms allow our ideas to circulate without boundaries, be they time, or space, or paper.

And yet, companies in the US already spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which are outdated in three months or less. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Businesses pay for this wasted paper, pay to file it, pay to search through it, and pay to have it tossed out when more space is needed.

By comparison, the internet creates 7.5 million blog posts each day, but we never have to print those files. They simply exist, or can be stored and sorted as we see fit. Imagine if we printed all the articles we read and circulated. How much would that cost? You’d need to print and distribute each Word file, Google Doc, Adobe Acrobat PDF, and Adobe Reader you read all year. That’s an unrealistic, costly number.
This is the beauty of the paperless office: infinite informational capability, zero limitations. So here’s the five best ways to move forward to this paperless reality.

1. Paperless Meetings

According to a recent AIIM survey, 59% of respondents said that the biggest driver of paper consumption is meetings. The second highest user of paper was signatures.

If you’re serious about a paperless office, start in the meeting room. Printouts for each employee across every meeting adds up fast, yet most documents are trashed immediately afterwards. While paper is flexible, portable, and easy, the same is true of modern technologies.

For example, Doodle and SurveyMonkey provide free service for conducting and scheduling meetings.

But what about all the printouts during the meeting?

Try TeamViewer to conduct paperless meetings. This powerful office package gives you remote access to office computers 24/7 through any computer or mobile device. It also includes features for screen sharing during presentations, transmitting videos, sharing files, accessing whiteboards, and teleconferencing.

TeamViewer lets you avoid handouts by simply hijacking your colleagues’ laptop while you’re showcasing an idea. Then easily upload the slides to Dropbox or Basecamp so everyone gets access to the digital copy. Now everyone can reference ideas on the fly and there’s nothing lost.

When it comes to meetings and printouts, good technology puts an end to the printout cyclone that surrounds every meeting.

2. Electronic statements and payments

Remember the classic Seinfeld episode when George Costanza loses his fiancé to postage stamps? I’m sure your company is doing better than dear ol’ George, but my point is you needn’t stress over such minor things anymore.

The more online bill paying you do, the less you’ll shell out for postage, envelopes, and employee time (and potential damages) spent on invoicing, checks, and mailings. Office finances that run through the web make sure payments are prompt, immaculately recorded, and easily tracked. Business at the speed of paper is no longer efficient for many, especially when we consider the file shares, mobile, and social collaboration platforms in the competitive space.

Many merchants turn to apps like Square to process payments through smartphones. With recent developments in digital signature technologies — like Signority — getting bills paid and approved via eSignatures has never been easier. And studies show that consumers would rather receive paperless receipts through email than in hand.

Plus, think of all the papercuts you can spare your valued employees.

3. Digital Storage

If your business is located in a major urban center, space is a key concern.

In terms of rent per square foot, storing thousands of paper documents in San Francisco, Manhattan or Toronto can skyrocket office costs. Instead of renting additional office space for storage, convert files and have them stored on secured off-site servers or in the cloud. The latter option will be much cheaper.

And easier to access. Turn to PDF converters make the transfer process easy, PDF editors that allow you to make changes, and PDF readers to allow easy access to documents. Plus, you’ll save on the costs of disposing of sensitive materials.

A few companies in the digital signature space also provide their customers with full-fledged storage and document management solutions, as part of their monthly package.

With paperless storage, you’ll be able to access documents easily through keyword searchability as well, no more rummaging through file bins and back rooms. Digitally thumbing through thousands of documents is both cost and time effective for employees. This will also decrease the likelihood of losing valuable data.

4. Electronic Scanning and Faxing

Yes, scanning and faxing is still highly prevalent among businesses.

The paperless office saves on ink, paper, and hassles by eliminating the physical component by sending and storing documents seamlessly. The initial hesitation for many companies is that shuffling documents through a scanner will be less efficient than paper copies and cost in terms of employee work hours.

But costs are already through the roof. Reduce.org reports that the cost of using paper in the office costs between 13x – 31x the costs of actually purchasing paper. As Xerox reports, the US already spends roughly $460 billion in salaried time to simply manage paper-driven information overload.

Meanwhile, effortless digital solutions are abundant in this space. For example, Turboscan is an excellent app that allows phone cameras to be used as scanners which then convert captured images to PDFs for easy-send emails or upload to Signority for grabbing that quick eSignautre. For only $15 per month, eFax takes incoming faxes and puts them into your email box and paperless, easily-searchable emails.

5. Paperless Connectivity

Sending files instantly is the best aspect of a paperless office.

If you’ve got multiple offices, accessing relevant documents from anyplace is truly a revelation. And connectivity is only getting better. With the ever increasing internet of things, data usage and storage rates are up. Data accessibility is expected anywhere at anytime and streaming data is a given between more and more devices.

Quocirca’s recent report finds that 72% of enterprises surveyed already have “some paper-free processes in place and are planning to implement more.” Why? Because the companies that go digital create opportunities to spot bottlenecks and inefficiencies in their workflows while maximizing productivity and using fewer material goods.

In coming years, paperless offices will mesh with home offices. As the prevalence of AI increases, so will the use of private contractors and employees who work from home. Yes, telecommuting and working from home will signal a substantial reduction in paper and office costs for businesses, but more happier, more effective employees too — we know, contractors are a huge part of the Signority workforce.
As a Global Workplace Analytics study reveals, two-thirds of employees would take advantage of the opportunity to work from home, and 36% said they’d rather telecommute than receive a raise. Sharing documents with cloud-based platforms will have increasingly positive impacts for between workers, managers, and even clients.

For businesses moving with digital trends, digital signature services complete the paperless office model and Signority provides an affordable solution for seamless integration into your business process. A modern agile business means agile data, accessible from anywhere — even when it comes to connecting pen to paper — when every level of business is able to exchange signatures and data fluidly, companies can move forward at lightspeed.

Signing Off

These days, technology is inflating the capacities and capabilities of businesses in a big way. And like a balloon set to rise, integrated technology promises a positive impact upon how far businesses can stretch their money. From cloud platforms to handheld apps, it’s no secret that businesses directly benefit from being more connected and more effective than ever. In coming years, we’ll see the  best companies enjoying increased productivity, reduced costs, and a competitive advantage as a result of a move towards the paperless office.

As environmental concerns stay top of mind, companies with the paperless office will enjoy a boost in their bottom line. Value-conscious consumers eager to change the world with their purchasing power are always happy to endorse the green company with the paperless office. Will your company catch the trend upwards?

 

Looking to go paperless? Sign-up now and get a 14-day free trial to a Signority eSignature Plan.

Startup Life: 5 More SME Industries Ripe for eSignatures – Part 2

Startup Life: Digital Signature Solutions for 5 More SME Industries

We’re back with the second installment of eSignature solutions for SME industries! Once again, we’re ready to prove that eSignatures can enhance any industry.

Without further ado, let’s get started with our top 5 industries:

1. Education

The education sector deals with a lot of paperwork. Schools must keep track of thousands of students and employees. If things aren’t done as efficiently as possible, this can quickly become overwhelming and completely unorganized. Digital signature solutions will make sure things run as smoothly, and efficiently, as possible. They can do so in many ways, such as providing staff with pre-built templates. Instead of creating individual documents for each recipient, staff can save a tremendous amount of time by sending out these pre-built templates. Not only will this help the staff, but it will also enhance student services and a student’s overall experience. Administration can speed up important processes, such as admission, course changes, and student loans. Moreover, the document sender can view real-time updates, and send reminders when necessary.

2. Construction

Digital signature solutions can keep projects on time, unify all parties, and manage important documents in one place. With their ease of use and instant delivery, projects will never be delayed from the unnecessary waiting and back and forth handwritten signatures bring. Moreover, since there are usually several teams involved, this can exacerbate the waiting period and make everything that much more complicated. Using electronic signatures keeps everything in one place, unifies all parties and opens a direct line of communication, through real-time updates. By sending automated reminders, you can ensure all activities stay on track.

3. Customer Service

eSignatures can drastically improve the overall customer experience. Agents can respond faster to customer inquiries, keep customer information current, and eliminate clerical errors. Using electronic signatures streamlines field support, allowing agents to acquire customer signatures faster! On the flip side, customers can sign from anywhere, anytime, and on any device— increasing overall customer value! For both parties, eSignatures makes the entire signing process easier, simpler, quicker and hassle free!

4. Finance

The finance industry is extremely paper heavy. Paperwork must be signed for virtually every transaction. As you may know, paperwork is particularly tedious, mundane and, frankly, a waste of time. eSignatures solve this problem, by bypassing traditional time delays— never miss a deadline again! For example, every document requires meticulous review, which would normally fall under an agent’s responsibility. By using electronic signatures, the software can do it for you! As such, the entire transaction and approval process would be shortened and quickened. With all this newfound free time, agents can focus their work on what really matters, their clients. Moreover, eSignatures are legally binding, and far more secure than handwritten signatures. Digital contracts have stronger transaction security and reduced opportunity for fraud. Additionally, they require signature authentication and provide users with an audit trail.

5. Human Resources  

Human resources can benefit from using electronic signatures in a multitude of ways. Ditch the paperwork, and make signing documents easier for new hires and for internal operations. You can create and reuse templates, and ensure all the required information is correctly filled in. Additionally, you can even cut the time it takes to obtain signatures in half— just imagine, no longer having to chase employees to sign! You can also keep track of all employee contracts and milestones in one safe and secure place. Through this, you can onboard, manage and transition employees smoothly— plus, it’s a great first impression for new hires!
Digital signature solutions are quickly making paper contracts obsolete and for good reason. Stop living in the past, and experience their immense benefits first hand!
Missed Part 1? Click here to learn about more industries that can be enhanced by eSignatures.

 

Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get a 14-day free trial to a Signority eSignature Plan!

Using Chatbots to Grow Your Business

How to use chatbots to grow your business - A Beginner's Guide

In the past few years technology has completely disrupted the way organizations and companies approach customer support and care. The introduction of chatbots followed the same pattern. Lots of research exists our there to back this up, just look at this one by Net Imperative that status that 89% of customers would rather communicate with a virtual assistant than a real person.  
With this post, we’d like to explore chatbots in the context of using them to grow your business. We’ll explore some fundamentals, imlplementation tips and even some of top tools that came up in our research. By now, if you’re reading this much, our very own chatbot “Anya” has already prompted you on the bottom right side of the screen. Go ahead, have a chat and experience it first-hand.
Ok, back to chatbots and learning more about them. Let’s begin.

Chatbot Advantages

Reduced Costs
Before the introduction of chatbots, companies had to rely on human support. Chatbots solve that problem by answering customer concerns and providing them with needed help and advice. Even though implementing chatbots isn’t free, think of how much you will be saving. You will no longer have to a) pay for dedicated human support and b) pay for their associated expenses (like phone bills). There are also non-monetary savings associated with chatbots, like time and effort— just think, no more contracting call centers!
Personalized Selling
With bots keeping track of every choice a user makes on your website, they are the perfect salesperson. They can effectively cross-sell, and upsell your clients. Also, over 50% of people believe businesses should be available 24/7— a schedule chatbots can work with! They can reach out and push products as soon as users become promising leads, giving more meaning to the saying “make money while you sleep”. Along the same lines, they are the best multi-taskers, as they can be chatting with multiple clients at once.
Easy to Use
Even better, chatbots are easy to use— for both you, and your customers! They are super easy to implement, more importantly, are incredibly user friendly. You can even optimize your chatbots for mobile. Since 90% of our time on mobile is spent on email and messaging platforms, they are extremely convenient for both you, and your customers. Moreover, since you can personalize your own bot, they are extremely implementable.

Chatbot Disadvantages

Security issues

Of course, when dealing with sensitive information, chatbots can be a liability. Sensitive information such as credit cards, personal information and others must be handled with care. You should be vigilant and proactive on monitoring your chatbots security system. This becomes even more important if your core business deals with customers personal information, such as banks. If customers do not trust the security of your chatbots, they will not interact with them!

Not All Bots Are Created Equal

There is a downside to chatbot personalization; you need to put in the work. If you are not the most chatbot savvy, your skills may be limited. Even if you are, chatbots can sometimes go a little rogue. When Microsoft launched their chatbot Tay, things quickly got out of hand. She was designed to communicate like a millennial girl, and learn from every interaction. Unfortunately, users started teaching her extremely inappropriate things, to which she, well, repeated. Moreover, customers have certain expectations for chatbots. If yours doesn’t meet, or exceed, these preconceived notions, your customers will be dissatisfied.

They Have Their Limits

Unfortunately, chatbots do have their limits. For the most part, they are currently unable to process complex questions or requests. Instead, they are better for more superficial communication. As such, so far they cannot completely remove humans from the equation. Moreover, their communication style is slighted limited. The average bot does not interpret sarcasm well, and will instead take it literally. Which is so helpful.

I know you’re already well acquainted with Anya on the right, but are chatbots really as good as they seem? And if so, how can a small business owner implement them into their customer care?

Chatbot Implementation

Now that you know about why you should implement chatbots, let’s go over some tips as to how best you can implement them.

Define Your Vision & Objectives

First things first, you need to outline your objectives, vision and long-term goals for your chatbots. Subsequently, you need to determine your target audience and use cases. If you’re new to the game, leveraging existing customers may be worthwhile. You already understand these customers, and retaining existing customers is much easier than attracting new ones. Afterwards, you should identify the tasks needed to reach your long-term goal. For example, if you decide improving customer experience is your main focus, your first task may be to identify common questions customers may ask your bots. After doing so, your next task may be to define your bots domain (ie. the topics they will know, and the breadth of their knowledge). It’s no surprise that different audiences use different slang terms and will have different expectations; so knowing this vital information can allow you to completely customize (and optimize!) the customer experience at every touch point. It’s also probably a good idea to try and predict future problems. For instance, what would you do if a customer gets stuck in a conversation loop?

Choose a Platform

Next step: Choose a suitable platform. Whatever platform you choose should align with your target audience and use case. Furthermore, your customers expectations will be different depending on which platform you use. It is important to be mindful of these assumptions, and act in accordance. For example, if you decide to target millennials, Facebook or Twitter may be viable options. However, this generation interacts with each platform very differently. Twitter is used more as way for customers to notify brands of issues, and hopefully get some compensation in return, while Facebook is used mainly for entertainment. Also, your customer’s location may influence which platforms you choose. If your target audience is situated in China, WeChat may be a platform to consider.

Build it with the Right Tools

Time to get your hands dirty— let’s start building! 40% of bot users disengage after only one interaction, so it’s imperative you build what the users want (it took us 35 min to build Anya on the right.. )
If you’re a bot baby (aka Chatbot beginner), tools like Chatfuel, Botsify and GupShop can really help. With Chatfuel, you can create a personalized AI Chatbot (with no coding!), and integrate your little minions easily within popular consumer platforms. This tool is used by some big brands, including TechCrunch, Uber, and Adidas. Botsify provides a simple interface and design process, user support and several platform integrations. They also have some shiny customers, including Apple! GupShop has pre-build templates, and building tools for everyone (bot babies and bot bosses alike) and for your entire chatbot lifecycle.
When building, it’s important to emphasize your chatbots tone, likeability, believability and brand voice. As discussed earlier, your bot also needs to effectively communicate with your target audience.
And always remember, just because it’s completed doesn’t mean it’s done! To keep your relevance and competitive advantage, you should continuously adapt and improve your bots. Tools like Bot Analytics can help, by gathering meaningful information about your bots performance, so you can make changes and improvements as necessary.

Test your Chatbot

Last, but certainly not least, you should test your chatbots suitability. Your bot should not only be functional, but also secure and appropriate for your target audience. For language, you should test for your bots tone, style, and overall understanding. There are some tools to help you at this stage, like the aforementioned ChatFuel— which can test your bots overall usability.
Considering all the benefits chatbots bring, and that the overwhelming majority of consumers would rather communicate with chatbots, you should probably get used to our friend Anya
Understanding your customers is crucial for the success of your bots, learn more about how you can with our recent article on persona surveys.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get a 14-day free trial to a Signority eSignature Plan.

Insurance Technology: A Tale of Two Extreme Ends

Learn about the biggest innovations in insurance technology =

Insurance technology and the industry are both undergoing a seismic change driven by several macro trends. Of these trends, technical innovation and changing customer expectations are driving insurance companies to invest significant resources in topics such as Big Data, Internet of things, blockchain and wearables. While some players in the industry stand to win and capitalize on this shift, some, unless they innovate, will put their company at risk.

Insurance Technology is Innovating at Lightning Speeds

According to a paper published by the Institute of international finance on insurance technology:
Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, telematics, the global positioning system (GPS), mobile phones, digital platforms, drones, blockchain, smart contracts, and artificial intelligence (AI) are providing new ways to measure, control, and price risk, engage with customers, reduce cost, improve efficiency, and expand insurability.”
Customer expectations for services have significantly changed. In an article written earlier this year, I outlined how customer experience is taking center stage in 2017, and the impact this has had on the retail industry. The insurance industry is no different. Many customers today expect to be able to get their car insurance online, and instantly, and at a great price. After all, “15 minutes can save your 15% on car insurance”, right?
Insurance companies operate on the premise of risk reduction, that means whatever information can be gathered about the driver can help provide a better assessment of the driver risk, and therefore determine the rate. Yes, sometimes it is cheaper. In the past, you called your insurance broker, they asked for your driving history, how many miles you drove in a given year, what kind of car you drive, where you lived (to assess the likelihood of theft), etc. This data was collected once a year when it was time to renew. That, of course, was before GPS, IoT and Big Data were in play. Today, companies like Progressive can install a little device in your car, and monitor everything from the way you slam your breaks to where you pick up your kids, here is how it works according to ABC 15’s “Car insurance companies to track driver habits for research” story.
Privacy aside, these projects cost millions of dollars and help insurance companies, save money, make money, and yes, sometimes pass the information to you. For the customer, the potential for money savings, and a better experience, compared to calling my broker every year and going through the data collection dance, is a win.
Of course, this innovation is not limited to cars, these days, homes are being automated with systems like Wink, which knows when you turn on your heat and when you fry your chicken a bit too much, and thanks to the proliferation of the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect Fire Alarm and the ever connected Ring doorbell. Indeed the American Family Insurance Company has partnered up with Ring, and Liberty Mutual have partnered with Google to share your data and reduce costs…
Need good health insurance at an affordable price? Hey, how about a free Fitbit to go with that policy, thanks to John Hancock’s partnership with Vitality. Yes, at one point, data from wearables will be shared with your insurance company to analyse, revise risk, and cost to the customer.
The world of insurance will further be disrupted by autonomous vehicles, drones, AI, block chain, and more, here is an infographic that can shed some light on how insurance companies are looking at technology.
Infographic on the innovation of insurance technology and its impacts

Source: Innovation in Insurance Report by Institute of International Finance

But who exactly is investing in these projects? It’s the big companies, such as State Farm, Progressive, John Hancock, and Liberty Mutual. The reason for that is quick basic, big data and IoT projects require the ability to make data sharing deals in the market, the ability to roll out an expensive, usually multi-year, and multi-million dollar big data project. These projects require large sets of data, access to latest technology talent, and data scientists. If successful, the companies that have figured this out will stand to win, and that means a direct and integrated relationship with the client who is less likely to switch providers

Don’t Fall Behind on Insurance Technology!

On the other side of the insurance chasm is the brokers, who today act as resellers to insurance companies, who have by in large remained static in their technology investment. Part of the issue is, of course, the fact that brokers are small businesses who do not have the resources or the data to undertake such projects, and part of it is cultural and these companies are family-owned business who prefer to maintain the status quo, change is hard.
The unfortunate reality is that the chasm in the customer experience when dealing directly with the insurance company is far different and better compared to the experience when dealing with a broker, and that chasm will continue to grow unless insurance brokers look for ways to service the customer better.
Recent data released by CSIO, Canada’s industry association of property and casualty insurers, brokers and software providers showed that by the end of 2016 only 6% of insurance brokers have adopted digital signatures solutions. That means that 94% of insurance quotes still expect the customer to print, sign and scan. That experience for the end consumer is far off from the expected experience set by the insurance companies.
While insurance brokers can choose not to invest in big data/IoT projects, they can still compete on customer service and leverage insurance technology to do so. Here are some very easy and cost effective way to simplify the customer experience.

  1. Invest in digital signature solutions (full disclosure here, we are a solution provider). However, the rollout of a digital signature solution takes little effort and eliminates one the core reasons why customers abandon quotes. Signature solution prices are quite affordable and can be purchased for as low as $8 per month.
  2. Live chat tools such as Olark or Intercom
  3. Communicate with your underwriting team digitally by implementing an internal chat system to speed up your processes, like Slack
  4. Go digital with your client onboarding processes by utilizing online forms, like Typeform or with embedded documents using an eSignature solution like Signority.

Also, be sure to read our recent post on what to look out for before going digital and be aware of the top emerging trends to stay ahead of the game!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get a 14-day free trial to a Signority eSignature Plan.

India is going digital, how about you? India's story of digital innovations

Digital Innovations in India Are On the Rise

When you think of India from a technology or digital standpoint, what comes to mind?
Outsourced tech support?
Call center operations?
Outsourced research and development?
While India certainly has done all of the above, India should be known for something else, digital innovations. Often companies hold off on implementing new technology because change is hard, and rolling out a new way of doing things requires staff education, changes to internal and external processes, not to mention the difficulty articulating an ROI. I mean we have always done it that way and it worked…

India Switching Gears?

Well, India decided it’s time for a change, time to go paperless and are rolling out digital innovations at a dizzying pace for a country of that size. If you are looking for an example of “undertaking massive social and technological change”, just look at India.
Here are some examples, now imagine if these implementations took place in the states of New York, California or Ontario.
In the first week of February, India banned cash transactions over $4500 or Rs 300,000. That’s right, you got cash? No thanks; cash is king … up to a point. After that, it is digital.
The inability to prove an individual’s identity was a massive hurdle that prevented the poor from accessing benefits and subsidies. Enter the Unique Identification project, that provides every citizen with a Unique Identification Number, assuring that the benefits were received by the right person.
This further led to India building the world’s largest biometric identity system. According to MapR, the project uses MapR and Hadoop to create and maintain the world’s largest biometric database, which can verify a person’s identity within 200 milliseconds.
Down with paper, did you know that Delhi also banned all use of plastic bags this week?

India’s Top Digital Innovations

India has several very interesting projects on the go, from eHealth to Digital Lockers, they are innovating and looking to the future. According to Wikipedia, here are some examples of the projects that are currently being worked on:  

  1. DigiLocker
  2. Attendance.gov.in
  3. MyGov.in
  4. SBM Mobile app
  5. eSign framework
  6. e-Hospital
  7. National Scholarship Portal

Interestingly from our vantage point, India as part of their going paperless program has implemented an eSignature platform where citizens now digitally sign all contracts with the government, read more about India’s digital eSignature framework.
At Signority, we applaud India for this massive undertaking and are doing our part with our digital signature platform on this side of the planet to cut paper, reduce waste, and clean up the planet.
How has the conversation about going digital gone at your company, what are some of the roadblocks and success you have seen? We’d love to hear from you, send us a quick message at hello@signority.com.

Part 1: The Top 5 Most Promising Industries and Jobs for Recent Graduates

The best industries and jobs for recent graduates

Do you hate that dreaded question at family get-togethers… “So, any plans after graduation?”
Do you wish you had the perfect answer to shut pompous Uncle Mike down?
Well, as a recent grad myself, I decided enough was enough. So, I rolled up my sleeves and began hunting for fresh new industries that would welcome recent grads with open arms!

Our List of Up and Coming Industries and Jobs for Recent Graduates

  1. Virtual Reality

All this talk about finding a job after graduation must just be a virtual reality – but I swear, it’s real! In fact, the virtual reality industry is expected to have a global market size of $1.7 billion this year (that’s an increase of over $1 billion!), and a revenue of $4.6 billion. This growth is expected to increase, with an expected global market size of $24.5 billion in 2020, and $80 billion by 2025 (the size of today’s desktop PC market!). Unsurprisingly, customers can’t get enough of virtual reality. The total number of active users is predicted to reach 90 million by this year, and 171 million by 2018.

  1. Health & Wellness

Today’s consumers are undoubtedly increasingly concerned over their health and overall wellness, as global industry sales are expected to amount to $1 trillion in 2017. This societal shift is present within all ages, from young to old, and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. In fact, the number of adults aged 60 is expected to double by 2050, which will increase their need for health and wellness products. Now for all the Canadian graduates, there has been strong growth in the Canadian health product sector, with an annual growth rate of 15% and economic contribution of $3.5 billion (and growing!). Looks like a promising industry, eh?
As a matter of fact, the #1 company on Fortune 100’s list of “fastest growing companies” is Natural Health Trends, a health and wellness company (surprised?). Just last year their revenue was $298 million, with a total return three-year annual growth rate of 211%.

  1. Drones

The drone industry is expected to explode in the next few years, with a predicted value of over $127 billion by 2020, and a compound annual growth rate of 17%. Drones are extremely multifaceted and diversifiable, and as such, can be used for just about anything (ie. they have huge potential!). For example, Air Shepherd has taken advantage of the many uses drones have and is using them to find wildlife poachers, in order to protect wild rhinos and elephants. Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap, predicts there will be a 400% increase in drone usage over this year.
Drone companies even made their way onto Fortune 100’s list of fastest growing companies, with Ambarella making the top 10. Ambarella develops video compression and image processing solutions, which are crucial components of many drone cameras. Their total revenue for the past year was a jaw-dropping $303 million, with their shares increasing by 67% in the past 3 months.

  1. Marijuana

The marijuana business is definitely “smoking” hot. With over half of America’s 50 states legalizing marijuana, and Canada currently in the process of legalization, it is no surprise that legal marijuana sales will total a whopping $22.8 billion in 2020.
The pharmaceutical company INSYS therapeutics was also on Fortune 100’s list of fastest growing companies, placing in their top 5. They develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids to address the clinical shortcomings of existing commercial products. Their revenue last year alone totalled to $323 million dollars, with an earnings-per-share, three-year annual growth rate of 119%.

  1. FinTech

The FinTech industry has been taking the financial industry by storm, and there’s no sign of stopping. FinTech companies are better able to meet changing customer needs, by offering convenient, simple and online integrated services. By the year 2020, the global marketplace lending is expected to be valued at $500 billion. Moreover, by the year 2030, there will be a projected 2 billion new customers using their phone for financial services, with over 60% switching to mobile over the next five years. As such, they are leveraging traditional companies limitations and succeeding in areas where they are failing. Additionally, the number of new FinTech start-ups has created a landscape of innovation and competition, driving continued success.
Now you’ll always have an answer to that annoyingly tired question!
Show Uncle Mike exactly what you’re made of, and start focusing your efforts in industries with the most payoff.
Check out Part 2, where I segment different areas of promise within each industry, explain how you can get involved, and some awesome examples to get you started!
Interested in learning from the Pros? Check out our recent article on business experts you should look out for.   
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get a 14-day free trial to a Signority eSignature Plan.

How to avoid: The 3 big costs most businesses incur today without realizing

Business-Process-Management-and-pitfalls-of-ignoring

As any growing business,  we at Signority are constantly looking for ways to become more efficient in our operations. In a recent chat with our friends at Indellient — experts in business process management — we explored internal areas and processes to improve our business. Katie Hulan, their Marketing Manager, was gracious enough to accept our invitation for a guest post to share her insights for other small businesses.
As businesses, we are often fixated on the next immediate business need – shipping the next version of our product, making that next big sale, fixing that bug, applying for funding. These outward-facing or revenue-driving activities are the first to be given resources as they are directly related to the success of your business. But what about what’s happening internally? Are you set up to be as efficient as possible? Believe it or not, business success comes quicker when your team is set up to be successful first. And that, my friends, is where business process management (BPM) comes to play – it is a systematic approach to making the workflow of an organization more efficient, effective and capable of adjusting to an ever-shifting environment. A business process is an activity or group of activities that will achieve a goal of the organization. So, when your people, who, by the way, are your greatest asset of the company, are equipped with productive processes and effective tools, they are better prepared to meet the goals of your organization.  

There are many costs that an organization can incur if the business process management is not implemented.  

  1. First, the cost of customer support. Customers can easily get discouraged when they do not receive services efficiently and satisfactorily. Due to poor organizational workflow and not adapting to the changing environment, the customers will lose morale and migrate to those that have adapted to modern technology and with efficient services. In today’s world, you know that when customers complain about their dissatisfaction, they don’t complain to you but to the public instead. And the customers are good at this! Allow me to explain. The increasing popularity of social networks acts as a forum for frustrated customers to talk about their awful experiences with given companies and it spreads like wildfire! Now, this is very costly to the business since it implies the loss of loyal potential customers, loss of reputation, and profit.And when the organization fails to meet its financial goals, it cuts costs by reducing the number of employees. Cue the loss of morale and confidence because job insecurity takes away their focus from work. Obviously, the moment there is a shift in attention, productivity declines and more absenteeism follows and customer complaints rise. Thus it becomes a fierce cycle.
  1. Opportunities! Missing opportunities can be disastrous for businesses. Indecision, or, not taking advantage of the chance to make a decision, leads to its own costs and those costs more often are beyond that of a bad decision.  Bigger costs of inaction are the cost of missed opportunities. One of the major factors that lead to missed opportunities is the failure to adapt to the ever-changing environment, a role that Business Process Management accomplishes very well. It is commonly said that opportunities come once in a lifetime and therefore should be seized immediately. You may not calculate the exact cost of missed opportunities, but it is great. This is because, without an organized effort to find them, the opportunities to increase the performance will go un-noticed.
  1. Engaged Employees. A study conducted by the Gallup in 2015 shows that 32% of U.S workers were considered engaged in work.  Most of the employees were not engaged that is 50.8%, while the 17.2% were actively disengaged. The detailed research of Gallup reveals that the engagement of the employee is powerfully linked to business results, an element essential to the success of the financial goals of the organization, measured by productivity, profitability and customer engagement. Employees that are engaged are involved in the innovation, development, and revenue that their companies aim at.

    The “engaged” workers are those that were considered as having an opportunity to do their best on a daily at the workplace and had somebody to encourage and recognize their opinions as workable. These elements foretell the outcomes of the performance of the organization.Gallup further describes the engaged employees as those who participate and are enthusiastic about their work. Thus the research outcomes, according to Gallup, indicate clearly that employee engagement is strongly linked to business results. Lastly, the study concludes that the engaged employees boost the development, innovation, and revenue that their companies aim at.

In general, the cost of the inaction of Business Process Management is huge and leads to a vicious cycle. Right from customer support, loss of staff, inefficiencies, the cost of missed opportunities, reputation damage to loss of profits.  All these lead to a general decline of business efficiency, stagnation and may end up in the closure of business.
As you look to optimize your processes, take note of the 5 predictions for BPM in 2017.
Interested in BPM solutions? Look at this evaluation criteria for BPM.

About the Author

SMB_Growth_Katie_HulanThe author Katie is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Indellient, a software development and IT professional services firm that helps companies meet and exceed their critical technology and business objectives. Katie writes about the importance of effective business process management and how it is a revenue-driver for organizations today. She also explores topics on competitive advantages, marketing, and more. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

The 4 Biggest Emerging Insurance Trends and Its Implications

Top 4 Emerging Insurance Trends

Emerging trends, such as driverless cars, P2P insurance and electronic signatures, have disrupted the usually steady world of insurance. But how exactly have these emerging insurance trends affected and changed the industry?

Let’s take a look at some of the emerging insurance trends!

Driverless Cars

Since the emergence of Tesla’s electric cars and the way they took the automotive market by storm, competitors and disruptors, and Tesla themselves, are looking into introducing fully autonomous cars as soon as two years time. Naturally, this changes things significantly for the insurance world. As this market continues to develop, insurers will need to consider potential risks to drivers, passengers and cars, as well as who (or what) is ultimately held responsible.

Driverless Cars Explained

Driverless cars sense their surroundings through integrated circuits and advanced technology, without the help of human input. As such, they provide users with a safer and more convenient means of transportation. Their way of operation includes different levels of autonomy:

  1.     Driver only – self-explanatory
  2.     Driver assistance – automated only for steering, acceleration and braking
  3.     Full autonomy – the car can travel on its own without a human present in the vehicle
  4.     High autonomy – requires human control only periodically during the trip, but are otherwise automated
  5.     Partial autonomy – drivers can interfere only in the event of an emergency

Implications for the Insurance Industry

The whole point of auto insurance is to protect people from human or mechanical error, but what happens when human error is eliminated? The main issues the insurance industry needs to tackle are as follows:

  1. Personal Insurance – Since the drivers essentially become passengers, who will be held accountable in case of an accident? The driver, car manufacturer, or both?
  2. Commercial Insurance – With companies such as Uber or Lyft using driverless cars to take their passengers’ places, how will these vehicles be insured if an accident occurs while on duty?

Driverless cars transitioned quickly from a radical idea to a very real product, with a very fast adoption rate. The insurance industry needs to adapt to these new changes just as quickly.

P2P Insurance

When Lemonade entered the insurance market this past fall, everyone with at least minimal knowledge in insurance knew things were about to change. The implications for the insurance industry were very deep, even though they only operated in New York. Unsurprisingly, requests for expansion into other states were made as soon as it launched. What will this mean for the insurance industry long-term?

P2P Insurance Explained

Peer-to-peer insurance is simpler than it sounds. It’s when a group of people with a mutual cause gather their money in one place, which is then used to pay the claims of any of the members in case of an accident. Usually, companies offering this type of insurance have a backup top-insurer supporting them in case the sum is too big for them to cover. Lemonade uses unpaid claims to support causes close to the heart of the insured. As such, customer trust in their company is bigger, and the tendency to find ways to circumvent the system is considerably lower. Since the company’s profits do not depend on what claims they can and can’t deny you.

Implications for the Insurance Industry

Even though the insurance industry has started to shift, P2P companies have not yet completely and irrevocably disrupted the market. P2P insurance exploits one of the biggest flaws of traditional insurance companies, by inspiring trust and a sense of community with their customers. However, when P2P companies go to traditional insurance companies for help in controversial cases, this newly placed trust in P2P companies will wear off. With that being said, the fact that this new model emerged at all, and has the success it has had so far, existing companies will rethink their stance on insurance going forward.

Drones

As the number of private drone enthusiasts increases and a growing number of commercial drones take flight, so do the risks associated with them. Aside from providing insurance to drones or unmanned vehicles, they hold large potential for changing the insurance game, from fighting fraud to increasing accuracy in risk-management and tailored pricing.
According to Dean Anderson, National Aviation Practice Leader, Wells Fargo Insurance, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that approximately 2.5 million drones/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be sold this year, with almost 600,000 used for commercial purposes. The trend leaves a vast unknown in the aviation insurance sector, one that presents excitement, new product development, and a changing underwriting mentality. With widespread US-potential, industries such as industrial inspection, agriculture, real estate, aerial photography, government, and others are investing considerable amounts of money into this emerging industry.”

Drone insurance explained

Drone insurance acts like any other insurance policy. If a drone is damaged in an accident or lost, the loss is covered to an extent by the insurance company. 
There are primarily two types of insurance coverages, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) insurance provided to the all:  Manufacturer, Owner and Operator Coverage.
And non-owned UAV / UAS Liability Coverage: coverage to companies or individuals that use or hire UAVs that they do not own and that are operated by third parties.
Some of the pre-requisites for these type of insurance are:

  • Buyer or operator’s proof of training
  • Maintenance of drone operational logs
  • Parts or add-ons purchased so far

Implications for the Insurance Industry

Increasing accuracy during catastrophes
During catastrophes, drones can play a critical role in surveying the damage of the insured property. The flexibility of drones allows for immediate surveying and reporting, allowing for a speedy insurance process.
Risk-management
According to PWC’s recent report “Clarity from Above”, drones could be used for instantaneous data collection and risk monitoring. With immediate access and improved quality of data. Insurance companies could easily assess high-risk areas and notify customers of those high-risk areas, ultimately helping them avoid those risks.
Tailored pricing
By often performing hazardous work, drones access and collect critical data sets that effectively allow for insurance companies to provide their customers custom pricing.

eSignatures

Initially frowned upon by lawmakers for its perceived poor cyber security and the consequences of having important legal information stolen, eSignatures are the new norm. The advancement of technology pushed insurers and the laws governing insurance companies to catch up with the times and start using eSignatures as part of their daily work.

eSignatures Explained

Like we mentioned in our previous post “Quick Reference Guide: Electronic Signatures & the ESIGN Act. According to the eSign Act, an eSignature is “any sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” If that definition sounds vague or unclear, don’t worry. That’s sort of the idea; it is, after all, “legal-ese”. In plain English, however, the above definition simply “states” an eSignature as a legal concept. That is, its legal definition simply means that it is possible for an electronic signature to carry the same sort of legal “weight” as its pen-and-paper equivalent.
Let’s take a quick look at the basic components of an electronic signature:
Consent:
Basically, any individual who signs an electronic document must explicitly consent to do so in the first place. Should an individual choose not to consent to an electronically signed agreement, a non-electronic option must be made available.
Intent:
In the simplest terms, this means that the signer clearly understands his or her intent to sign the document, and the process by which the individual signed the document was clear and understood from beginning to end.
Verification:
For an electronic document to be considered legally binding it must be signed by the same person whose signature appears on the dotted line. In turn, most electronic signature solutions have built-in verification methods.
Auditability:
This is the electronic equivalent of a “paper trail,” (popularly know in the electronic signature industry as an ‘Audit Trail’) whereby each party involved in an electronic agreement (or a legal entity, for instance) can if necessary, easily access each step of the electronic signature process. You can read more about the anatomy and importance of an audit trail in our post titled “The Anatomy of an Audit Trail: Electronic Signature Simplified”.
While the most known type of an eSignature is the drawn signature, there are other types as well:

  1. Click to sign – these include tick boxes, e-squiggles, scanned images, and typed names. However, they are not considered as a functioning signature. As such, they are commonly used in addition to other types of eSignatures
  2. eSignatures – These typically involve the signer applying their hand-signature mark on the document, which is then protected with a cryptographic digital signature
  3. Advanced and Qualified eSignatures – AES and QES use unique signing keys for every signer, as such, they provide the highest level of trust and assurance. These unique signing keys directly link the user’s identity to the signed document, so anyone is able to verify the signature using an industry standard PDF reader

Implications for Insurance Industry

eSignatures makes life much easier for insurance brokers. eSignature companies like Signority revolutionize document signing and management by creating seamless digital transactions for your customers. Experts agree eSignatures close sales quicker, are more secure and traceable than paper and can be easily integrated into already existing business processes. You are able to securely maintain legal electronic copies of every document, keeping your documents safe from any harm. Communication is also simplified, so much so that it only takes a few minutes to set up, draft, sign and file any necessary documents… no more long days waiting for documents to arrive by mail! Everything is automated and digitalized and at your disposal. To learn more about the habits of highly effective insurance brokers, click here.
While driverless cars and P2P insurance have both positive and negative effects on the insurance market, eSignatures and drones impact looks to be solely positive. We will see in later years how each one of these trends will change the way insurance works, but for now, we can safely say things are looking up!
Disclaimer:
This post focuses on technology and its impact on the North American insurance sector, specifically. It’s important to point out that Signority is not an insurance company, nor are we the expert authority on the subject. However, we have referenced experts often in this post. It would be equally wise (and perhaps a bit obvious) to point out that the insurance industry is incredibly complex. Admittedly, this post is a brief, simplified look at a complex topic.

Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get a 14-day free trial to a Signority eSignature Plan.

Hand-picked business growth reads

Top business growth reads - January 2017 Signority

Here at Signority, we strive to improve ourselves, our product, our company and the lives we touch. That goal requires a level of commitment to keep making things better and more efficient. Making things better requires us to be open-minded and challenge the status quo. This is why every day, we make the time to look outward at leaders and change-makers – in our community and far away – to learn from their stories.
Recently, it occurred to us that we should share with you a list of the top business articles our team stumbled upon this past month. We hope this helps you and your business to grow and keep improving at whatever your craft is.

On Managing your Business

From Brad Feld, Managing Director at Foundry Group
Brad Feld, a successful entrepreneur and early stage investor. Brad shares with us his views on organizational structures. He describes for us what he calls, “The Three Machines” (Product, Customer, and Company). This is one of our top business articles for any business owner or leader starting a company or looking to shake things up!
>>> Read “The Three Machines” <<<
From First Round Review
We love what they write at the First Round Review, seriously, big fans! When they started out, they claimed their goal was “to become the Harvard Business Review for Startups” and they do not disappoint.
In this post, they share the importance and benefits of finding advisors for your business early on, and how to find the best advisors for you.
>>> Read “Snag the Best Advisors for Your Startup, from Best-selling Authors to Fortune 500 CEOs” <<<
In this post, First Round covers, at length, many strategies to develop your team. Seriously, great insights and best practices you can put to work ASAP.
>>> Read “Three Powerful Conversations Managers Must Have To Develop Their People” <<<

On Marketing & Growth

From Pierre Lechelle, SaaS growth thought leader
Pierre shares his model to help you audit and analyze business growth. The main goal is to give you all the keys you need to develop a cohesive strategy. Plan to lose yourself for an hour or two with this top business article and other posts on his site. They rock.
>>> Read “How to Perform a Growth Audit” <<<
From Alvin Hsia, Product Designer at AirBnB
This is an 11 min read from late last year but it has so much that I’m sure you will immerse yourself in it for a lot longer. Any time you put in here is worth it as you’ll end up knowing so much more about the human mind. This new knowledge will sure help you in your communications, marketing and more.
>>> Read “Cognitive Bias” <<<
From Rand Fishkin at Moz
Rand shares his 8 predictions for SEO this year, as well as, shows a frank grading of his 2016 predictions. If you are into optimizing your site for better ranking, please read their blog. This post is a good start.
>>> Read “8 Predictions for SEO in 2017” <<<

On Tools to Increase Productivity

From Product Hunt
This post shows a list of key tools to help you in your writing. Mentions include: Hemmingway Editor, Refly.it and more.
>>> Check out: “9 Tools That Will Help You Become a Better Writer” <<<

Bonus: Brand New Companies to Check Out

>>> See if your new business venture name already exists at Viable <<<
—————-
So, here it is, from now on, we’ll be sharing with you, our top reads of the month. Please share any interesting reads you found with us hello@signority.com.
Gustavo 👊

Making the Most Out of Your Online Ad Spending

online-ad-spending-done-effectively

Back in January, waspbarcode released fresh data from their small business survey indicating that not only do small business have a marketing budget, they also intend to increase it in 2017. Investing in marketing is great for business growth, especially if the investment allows businesses to reach new customers. The report did mention those small businesses are considering investing some of that budget in online marketing, but is that the right thing for your growing organization?
When I talk to owners of small and medium businesses, they quickly mention Facebook and Google Adwords as the place to start, and that is understandable, these platforms have great targeting ability and the largest audience reach. Google also has the added advantage of search intent. If I am searching for Car insurance, I am more likely to be looking to purchase a policy soon. But are there any things to look out for? Let’s look at the insurance industry.
It turns out that keywords related to insurance are the most expensive ones to bid on, $54.91 USD is the cost of a click on an insurance related ad according to data released by wordstream. Using this data 100 clicks would cost a company $5,491, and if your website is typical it would convert at an 4% rate, that means of the 100 customers that clicked 4 would have provided their information and become a lead, a cost of $1,372.25 per lead. There are ways to optimize that experience, no doubt one can get to a 10% conversion rate by using well-designed web pages, placing good offers on the website, etc…, if we use a 10% rate, the cost per lead is $549.1
That is the range for Cost Per Lead online, approximately $549 – $1,372.25 for an insurance broker. If your brokerage is looking to acquire 100 customers from the web channel, what should your budget be? That number highly depends on how well your brokers/agents close leads, if we assume that they are able to close 54% of all leads, then the cost per customer would be 2*Cost per lead, or $1,098 on the low end or $2,744 on the high end.
The question is, can this be optimized? Remember that customers searching for car insurance probably clicked a few ads and are getting quotes from various parties, converting these customers fast is key to success, here are some tips to convert potential customers.

Optimizing Your Online Ad Spending

  1. Create a Well-Designed Web Page and Clear Value Proposition

Make sure you have a well-designed web page and a compelling offer to increase your website conversion page. In a previous article on usability, we gave some tips on how to optimize your website for a better customer experience
What is important is to create a compelling and clear value proposition: A value proposition is a business declaration that describes why your potential customer should use your product or service. Usually, a great value proposition should address what your company does, how are you are different or unique and who your company serves.
A/B test website content: Split testing, most popularly known as A/B testing, is a method of determining the more successful content piece (that could be a web page, copy or even buttons) by putting two variations of content against each other and basing it on a common goal set by you.
The goal could be, the number of conversions, sign-ups, increase in downloads etc.  

  1. Responding and Interacting to Leads

Responds to leads fast: the 5-minute rule is in full effect here, data released by The Lead Response Management study show that the odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times. The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. So stay on top of those leads.
Address objections: Objections are a part of the buying cycle and are inevitable. The critical part about an objection is to understand that it might be due to your potential customer’s lack of knowledge regarding your product or inability to understand your solution thoroughly.
Listening to your customer and addressing these objections in a concise manner is primary for your business’ success. In terms of your site, spend the time to address typical questions that you expect or have been asked frequently through an FAQ page or even landing page copy and imagery.

  1. Increasing Trust

It’s natural tendency to make a purchase from a person or company that you trust, so why would this be different for your potential customer? Ensuring you give your potential customers a reason to trust you and your product can be critical in the conversion process. Few ways you can do that is:

  • Being transparent about the services or product features you offer.
  • Always honor any promises you make to your customers, whether online or offline.
  • Display your product or service’s price on your website.
  • Show social proof by creating a section for mentions or quotes about your product or service from happy customers.
  • And finally, be consistent with your brand and product throughout your website, collateral and communication.
  1. Sealing the Deal – Online

Remove the possibility of leakage: customers do not want to print, sign, scan, fax, it’s inconvenient and if I am shopping my quote around and your competitor sent me a document ready for my digital signature, you would have lost me as a potential customer. Stats show that 46% of customers drop off after a broker sends them a paper based quote. In terms of Google online ad spending, that equals $43,920, meaning that if a digital signature solution saves one customer dropping off, the $50 investment is well worth it!
Looking to seal the deal? Why not try Signority’s Digital Signature solution for free. Click here