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Microsoft Office 365 Gets E-Signature Deal
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Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
2/22/2014 | 1:36:15 PM
Re: Electronic signatures
Oh, how happy I would be to get rid of the mass paper trail associated with approvals.  Think about it, you have a project on the go at work and you need to get a few directors to sign off on it.  This means you either have to print out a single copy, hand it to director #1 and wait until they sign to pass it to the next director in line.  What if someone is out of town?  What if they are just swamped and see your project as being non-critical?  You are waiting on a signature that is holding up your entire project.  

You could also print out multiple copies of the document and circulate for signatures, but then everyone feels like they are the first one to sign off and worry they are making the wrong decision. After all, no one likes being the first to put skin in the game.  You also have the problem of consolidating multiple documents after all the signatures are obtained.  Not a fun exercise.

I think E-Signatures could fix this annoyance quite easily.  Simply send everything out digitally and all of a sudden you can get everyones signature without printing out a single page.  Not to mention a reduction of headaches associated with running around the office with papers trying to find adminstration assistants and executives.  Increased productivity for all!
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
2/19/2014 | 8:07:23 AM
Re: Electronic signatures
Electronics signatures definitely take Office 365 to the next level. But IMO the Google alternatives still fall short in relation to essential Office apps like spreadsheets and even Word docs for serious business users. 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
2/18/2014 | 9:20:41 PM
Re: Electronic signatures
For many customers, I think it was already tipping, even before this announcement. People are skeptical about cloud delivery models and recurring subscriptions-- but that problem involves conditioning customers to new business models, not weakness with the actual product. As far as I can tell, Office 365 offers a lot of benefits in terms of cost savings, reduced IT demands, mobile-ready workforces, and so on. It's a strong package.

Microsoft still faces threats, of course. A lot of people spend more time using Android tablets and iPads than they do PCs-- not necessarily for creating documents, but certainly for reviewing them. The absence of Office on either of these leading tablet OSes has arguably made Microsoft vulnerable on certain fronts. The slowing of the PC market (a traditional engine for new Office sales) hasn't helped either, though Microsoft has reported a promising uptick in consumer 365 subscriptions.

Here's another challenge: a lot of people are happy with older versions of Office. Office 365's features are potentially useful-- BI tools; cross-pollination among the apps, like having Lync available inside of Outlook; access to documents on almost any device at any time; etc. But it's all more than a lot of people need. Simple e-mail, spreadsheets and word processing apps can go a long way. That's where Microsoft competitors such as Google come in.

Google doesn't offer the deep functionality that Microsoft does-- but for most people, it offers enough, and it's cheap or free, depending on your needs. Office 365 is a good product that's already on its way to becoming a blockbuster, multi-billion dollar revenue stream. That said, the old PC-era Office model has traditionally been an even bigger revenue stream. It remains to be seen if Office 365, big as it will surely become, will compensate for shifts elsewhere in the product line.

This DocuSign deal, though, can only help. Easy eSignature integration is something businesses of all sizes, and even many consumers, can use.

What do you think, readers? Was Office 365 attractive before this deal? Has the DocuSign deal made it any more appealing? If you prefer Google or some other alternative, any reason for dumping Office?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
2/18/2014 | 9:01:57 PM
Re: Electronic signatures
Yeah, it's definitely a good thing, both in Microsoft's case and in general. The storage implications alone impress me. If you're not careful, digital storage can be pretty messy-- but nowhere near as messy as physical storage. Boxes of old contracts don't include a search function to help you locate a poorly-placed document; digital folders do. Plus, think of the cost implications. Companies spend a ton of money holding onto old documents for reasons of liability or posterity-- and that storage space isn't free. I suspect it's cheaper to house old documents on a hard drive than in a storage building.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/18/2014 | 7:18:06 PM
A reason to adopt Microsoft Office 365?
This is actually a big step forwrard for Office 365. Legal digital signatures will prove useful and a reason for people to start using Microsoft online applications. I completed a house buying process using verified digital signatures, right up to but not including, the mortgage signing. And I kinda wanted that to be on paper.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
2/18/2014 | 4:34:31 PM
Re: Electronic signatures
Electronic signing is so important. How inefficient is it to sign a paper docuent today? Really bad. You print a document. You sign it. You scan it. These things take time.

It would be better to just eradicate that whole process - it isn't needed anymore with digital technology. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/18/2014 | 1:53:50 PM
Re: Electronic signatures
What are you using for e-signatures, Google Apps users?
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
2/18/2014 | 1:52:12 PM
Re: Electronic signatures
True, but this new capability might be just the thing to tip the balance in Microsoft's favor. It's a powerful inducement.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/18/2014 | 1:31:38 PM
Electronic signatures
This is a natural fit with Office 365, especially for people using tablets, but actually swaying people to choose Office 365? That's a much taller order.


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