Box Wants To Disrupt The ESignature Market With ‘Sign’

By Patrick Moorhead - August 17, 2021

There are very few elements of business that have not significantly changed over the past decade. Many businesses now fully live on the internet, breathe in the internet, and would not exist without the internet. Box is a company that has made transitioning to the cloud much easier with its Cloud Content Management Platforms (CCM).

I covered Box's acquisition of eSignature platform SignRequest earlier in the year. I believe the acquisition of SignRequest was a smart move for Box by including the final puzzle piece needed to enable a truly all-in-one experience for managing enterprise content without building an eSignature tool from the ground up. By including an eSignature solution in the Box Platform, users would no longer have to leave the platform to sign a document. We also have to keep in mind that the signature process does not begin and end with the signature. The process begins upstream with the document's creation, then midstream to the signature, and then downstream into retention and protection of the document. The Box platform supports this entire end-to-end business process, and Box Sign should make this process much easier. Let's take a look at how Box Sign differentiates itself in the eSignature market.

Security, governance, compliance, and automation

The benefit of having a native eSignature in the Box platform is that it benefits from all the security that is in the Box platform. Box can scan a document, identify what that document is, and apply a security classification and appropriate controls to the content. However, many documents make their way to different parties and bounce back and forth between the upstream and midstream process. Box Sign implements a dynamic security classification for documents, tying security to content. Box Sign allows for this process to be seamless and efficient. The eSignature tool doesn't need to change its security classification because it changes with the content. 

Another benefit to having Box Sign integrated into the business process is its retention governance capabilities. In the latter third of the business process, a signed document can land in a folder with a specific retention policy that automatically applies to that specific document. The signed document is more easily governed inside the Box platform. Box Sign has one single content repository that stores all signed documents, rather than storing signed documents across various systems with varying governance policies. This ability to govern the signed document within the Box platform increases audit-ability and reduces the risk of falling out of compliance.

Box Sign also inherits all of Box's compliance certifications. It automatically gains industry-leading certifications like DoDIL4, FINRA, ITAR, FedRAMP, ISO, no matter the size of the organization or business. This differentiator should be great for customers to use Box Sign immediately and don't have to wait for certifications. Users of Box also don't have to worry about documents being stored across borders because of Box Zones. Box Zones allows for in-region data storage so that content can abide by company policy regarding where documents are stored.

Box stores content in regions worldwide, including the USA, Canada, Europe, UK, Asia, Japan, and Australia BOX

The eSignature process can have workflow triggers and outcomes based on the metadata of the signature. In other words, documents can be seamlessly integrated depending on who signed it, the date signed, the number of signatures, etc. It can create multi-step outcomes requiring multiple revisions, classification changes, requests, and signatures to all be automated without leaving the automation process to a separate eSignature tool. I think Box Sign could increase the efficiency of an automation process by almost half the time for signature-specific workflows. I think this is true, especially since users do not have to leave the Box platform.

Disrupting the eSignature market

Box Sign is changing the way that signatures are being done electronically. I think it has a deep understanding of how signatures play a role end-to-end in the business workflow, especially in high-value documents. Box takes the upper hand, and one aspect that surprised me is that it doesn't plan to use the same business model as other eSignature tools. Other eSignature tools pay either per-document or per-user bases. What ends up happening is that organizations will limit the number of e-signatures done in the company because of budget concerns. What also ends up happening is that organizations limit the number of users that can do eSignatures. 

Anyone can sign using Box Sign on the web or mobile with a draw or type signatures. BOX

Box is implementing Box Sign into its Box platform at no extra cost to the more than 100,000 Businesses that already use Box Content Cloud. This implementation is a game-changer, not only for Box users but also for the entire eSignature market as a whole. Box platform users have unlimited native e-signatures for all users of the Box Core Subscriptions. Box says Box Business and Enterprise plans will include:

  • Unlimited documents to be sent for signature from within Box web application.
  • The ability to sign and request signatures, with four standard fields (Signature, date, checkbox, and text).
  • The ability to request a signature from anyone, regardless of whether they have a Box account.
  • Templates for common, repeatable processes, like NDAs.
  • Email reminders and deadline notifications to keep projects on track.
  • Support for both serial and parallel document routing, so a series of users can sign a document sequentially or at the same time.

Real-time and user controls for Box admins.

  • Security controls including signer authentication via email, a tamper seal indicator, and the ability to include an electronic record and signature disclosure for signers.
  • An allocation with additional documents available for purchase.
  • Access to box Sign's open APIs.
  • Box customers with Enterprise plans will also include:
  • Bulk actions, including the ability to send individual signature requests (such as consent forms, waivers, or employee policies) to a large group of recipients.
  • The ability to include attachments for signers or senders to review.
  • The ability to provide self-service signature workflows.

Box Sign offers third-party and custom app signatures at a cost through integrations or APIs for those who don't have Box. Box Sign will have integration with Salesforce when it initially roles out. 

Wrapping up

Box Sign is not just about the integration of eSignatures into the Box platform. It is about creating a seamless complete workflow process. eSignatures is just one piece of the whole solution that brings it all together and makes the entire process more efficient. The fact that Box is offering unlimited signatures on its platform for free is mind-boggling for me. It is about the customers getting the most value out of the Box platform and being able to do the whole Business workflow in one seamless platform. 

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.