IDC

Region Focus: Worldwide

eSignature Software 2023 Vendor Assessment

September 2023 | us49646923
Holly Muscolino

Holly Muscolino

Research Vice President, Content Strategies and the Future of Work

Product Type:
IDC: MarketScape
This Excerpt Features: OneSpan

IDC MarketScape: Worldwide eSignature Software 2023 Vendor Assessment

Capabilities Strategies Participants Contenders Major Players Leaders

Leaders

Adobe

Certinal

DocuSign

Foxit Software

Namirial

Nitro

OneSpanFeatured Vendor

RPost

Zoho

Major Players

airSlate

Box

Dropbox

Entrust

InfoCert

PandaDoc

ShareFile

Signeasy

Contenders

Exela Technologies

IDC MarketScape Methodology

IDC Opinion

An electronic signature, also known as esignature, is a legally agreed upon replacement for uniquely identifiable physical acceptance or agreement to a form, document, or other digital source. Digital signatures are an advanced form of esignature that require the signer to authenticate their identity using a digital certificate issued by an independent certificate authority (CA).

eSignature software refers to software and cloud service solutions that:

  • Issue an encrypted digital document from a sender requesting a signature.
  • Transport the document via a secure communications channel.
  • Present the document to one or more signers.
  • Capture the electronic equivalent of a handwritten signature.
  • Record the signers’ actions.
  • Re-encrypt the document.
  • Return the document to the originator via secured communications.

The software or service may include certain other features or functions, such as workflow automation and analytics, but must, at minimum, meet the aforementioned requirements.

eSignature software is an important element in improving both the efficiency and the experience surrounding business-to-business and business-to-consumer content-centric workflows. Frequently, these workflows involve parties outside the organization that are engaged in a business relationship that requires verified contractual consent by either the business, one or more external parties, or both. As an increasing number of documents are “born digital” and organizations continue to digitally transform content-centric workflows, esignature technology has enabled those workflows to remain digital and drives multiple benefits including reduction in transaction time and cost, increased security, and improved employee, supplier, partner, and customer experiences.

Many organizations experienced these benefits firsthand during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, when esignature software quickly changed from “nice to have” to mission-critical software, as remote workers sought alternative methods to keep the business moving.

eSignature Trends

The benefits of esignature software are compelling, and organizations that adopted these solutions in recent years are unlikely to abandon them. We expect these organizations to continue to expand esignature use cases across the organization. In an IDC survey conducted in North America in June 2023, 86% of IT decision makers said that they had invested in esignature software in the past year and 85% said that they planned to do so in the next 12-18 months (source: IDC’s State of Content Services Survey, June 2023).

In addition, flexible work models are here to stay. In a recent global research, IT and line-of-business decision makers indicated that 20% of employees in organizations are primarily remote (i.e., they work from home three or more days a week) and 20% are primarily hybrid/flexible (i.e., they work from any location depending on business need) (source: IDC’s Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending Survey, Wave 5, June 2023). eSignature software will be required for any of those employees who deal with agreements or other documents requiring signatures.

Other trends of note are:

  • Development of capabilities based on large language models and generative AI (GenAI), with early announcements from some vendors (for more details, see The Impact of Generative AI section)
  • An increased number of esignature capabilities embedded as part of a broader content services or contract life-cycle management (CLM) platform
  • Tighter integration with enterprise applications via connectors and APIs to extend automation and support a broader range of use cases
  • Intelligent forms, automated document generation, and bidirectional data management (including “smart contracts”)
  • Flexible deployment models (e.g., on premises, private cloud, and public cloud) to support content security and data residency requirements
  • Compliance with global government electronic identification (eID) platforms
  • Growing demand for, and regulatory acceptance of, digital signatures that use hosted keys and transient keys, particularly in response to the perceived difficulties of rendering and verifying qualified digital signatures that use persistent keys in the users’ absolute possession and control
  • Continued development of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and biometric capabilities to authenticate, verify, identity, audit, and provide robust non-repudiation services
  • Growth of video signing and use of video as an authentication type (along with ID verification and matching facial features), and by extension, of online notaries

The Impact of Generative AI

IDC defines generative AI as a branch of computer science that involves algorithms that enable computers to create new content using previously created content, such as text, audio, video, images, and code. An example is ChatGPT. Almost three quarters (72%) of companies surveyed in North America say that it is somewhat or very likely that they will seek out solutions that incorporate GenAI for content-centric workflows and use cases in the next 12 months (source: IDC’s State of Content Services Survey, June 2023).

Though not included in the criteria for this IDC MarketScape, several vendors presented esignature-related capabilities that are enabled by GenAI. Example capabilities include:

  • Making a document more understandable and/or readable before sending
  • Summarizing the most important parts of an agreement or other document
  • Highlighting specific key words or phrases within a document
  • Flagging clauses within contracts that need attention
  • Querying an entire repository for specific documents
  • Automating demographic-based translation
  • Setting up renewal reminders or reminders for other activities
  • Enabling biometric checks to confirm signers are who they say they are

eSignature vendors that are not exploring how generative AI can enhance signing workflows are at risk of losing competitive ground. However, all vendors must gain the trust of customers in these solutions. It goes without saying that this includes ensuring that customer data remains secure.

Tech Buyer Advice

eSignature must be part of a broader strategy for digitizing, automating, and transforming document processes and will be most successful as part of an organization’s overall digital transformation initiatives. Before adopting an esignature solution, or when considering a new solution, organizations should perform an assessment to clearly understand the current state of signing workflows within the business, identify gaps, and develop a plan for moving forward. Other recommendations are:

  • Understand how the vendor will be leveraging generative AI in its solution, and what guardrails are in place to protect proprietary and sensitive data.
  • Understand each signing use case and the security requirements and risk profile of that use case. For example, an employee signing off on an internal expense report has quite a different profile from a high-value sales contract with a new partner. Learn about the various options provided by your esignature solution, and ensure that all stakeholders know which options to select for each type of transaction.
  • Select technologies that can support a broad number of enterprise use cases and that integrate well with the organization’s existing front-office and back-office business applications. 
  • Identify specific use cases that can benefit from deploying an esignature solution, and develop a pilot program (if you have not already done so). Develop metrics to measure progress including reduced cost, increased productivity, improved security and compliance, and improved customer and employee satisfaction.

Featured Vendor

This section briefly explains IDC’s key observations resulting in a vendor’s position in the IDC MarketScape. While every vendor is evaluated against each of the criteria outlined in the Appendix, the description here provides a summary of each vendor’s strengths and challenges.

OneSpan

OneSpan is positioned in the Leaders category in this 2023 IDC MarketScape for worldwide esignature software. OneSpan is a public company founded in 1991 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. 

Quick facts about OneSpan are as follows: 

  • Employees: 850
  • Market coverage: North America, Latin America, EMEA, and Asia/Pacific
  • Industry focus: Click-to-sign, basic signature, advanced signature, and qualified digital signature
  • Ideal customer size: Midmarket and enterprise
  • Products evaluated: OneSpan Sign
  • Deployment: Public cloud multitenant
  • Type of esignatures offered: Click-to-sign, basic signature, advanced signature, and qualified digital signature
  • Key differentiator: OneSpan provides a single audit trail of the entire agreement process, from identity verification and authentication to signature. The audit trail is constantly embedded within the signed document for easy, one-click verification. OneSpan provides a white-glove service to all customers to ensure their success, making it easy without sacrificing the security necessary for high-assurance interactions.
  • Interesting fact: If you’ve ever opened a bank account or applied for insurance online, 60% of the world’s largest 100 banks rely on OneSpan.

Strengths

  • OneSpan’s portfolio encompasses all touch points in the digital agreement portfolio, from identity verification and authentication to interaction via remote online notarization and virtual rooms to the transaction and document storage.
  • In addition to signing PDF files, OneSpan supports the signing of data sets such as a wire transfer. OneSpan also supports the signing of documents from competitive signing solutions.
  • OneSpan’s offering is strong in terms of security features, authentication and compliance, and a complete audit trail.

Challenges

  • OneSpan lacks some of the reporting features evaluated for administrators. 
  • OneSpan does not offer prebuilt templates out of the box. Templates are available through customization or third-party add-ons.
  • OneSpan does not have a contract life-cycle management solution but offers this capability to customers via a partnership with a contract life-cycle management vendor.

Consider OneSpan When

Organizations of all sizes and in all industries seeking a secure, enterprise-grade esignature solution should consider OneSpan and its free trial experience. OneSpan is popular among businesses in heavily regulated verticals. With a large number of its current clients white labeling the solution, businesses looking to customize their full signing experience should also take OneSpan Sign into consideration. 

Methodology

IDC MarketScape Vendor Inclusion Criteria

eSignature software refers to software and cloud service solutions that issue an encrypted, signed document from a sender, transport the document via a secure communications channel, present the document to one or more signers, record the signers’ actions, re-encrypt the document, and return the document to the originator via secured communications.

Though this IDC MarketScape evaluates esignature software as its own market, the reality is that there are few “pure-play” esignature software vendors, particularly when we consider the larger vendors that met the inclusion criteria for this IDC MarketScape (described in this section). eSignature software is frequently a component of a broader portfolio of content, identity, or trust services. This makes sense because an electronic signature must be part of a digitized signing workflow, and the more that workflow is truly transformed from its paper-based origins, the more those electronic signatures can be leveraged for efficiency, productivity, and security gains.

Any vendor participating in this IDC MarketScape had to showcase that it met the following inclusion criteria:

  • The vendor must have a minimum of 10,000 paid esignature end users.
  • The solution is sold and supported in three or more regions (North America; Latin America; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa [EMEA]; Asia/Pacific).
  • The solution offers, as a minimum, simple or basic electronic signature.
  • The vendor must be able to provide three responding customer references.

Reading an IDC MarketScape Graph

For the purposes of this analysis, IDC divided potential key measures for success into two primary categories: capabilities and strategies.

Positioning on the y-axis reflects the vendor’s current capabilities and menu of services and how well aligned the vendor is to customer needs. The capabilities category focuses on the capabilities of the company and product today, here and now. Under this category, IDC analysts will look at how well a vendor is building/delivering capabilities that enable it to execute its chosen strategy in the market.

Positioning on the x-axis, or strategies axis, indicates how well the vendor’s future strategy aligns with what customers will require in three to five years. The strategies category focuses on high-level decisions and underlying assumptions about offerings, customer segments, and business and go-to-market plans for the next three to five years.

The size of the individual vendor markers in the IDC MarketScape represents the relative market share of each individual vendor within the specific market segment being assessed.

IDC MarketScape Methodology

IDC MarketScape criteria selection, weightings, and vendor scores represent well-researched IDC judgment about the market and specific vendors. IDC analysts tailor the range of standard characteristics by which vendors are measured through structured discussions, surveys, and interviews with market leaders, participants, and end users. Market weightings are based on user interviews, buyer surveys, and the input of IDC experts in each market. IDC analysts base individual vendor scores, and ultimately vendor positions on the IDC MarketScape, on detailed surveys and interviews with the vendors, publicly available information, and end-user experiences in an effort to provide an accurate and consistent assessment of each vendor’s characteristics, behavior, and capability.

Market Definition

eSignature Software

eSignature software is a submarket of the document applications functional market. Document applications enable users to create, author, edit, and publish content, including text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. These documents may include embedded images, audio, and/or video.

eSignature software refers to software and cloud service solutions that issue an encrypted, signed document from a sender, transport the document via a secure communications channel, present the document to one or more signers, record the signers’ actions, re-encrypt the document, and return the document to the originator via secured communications.

Types of eSignatures

In this IDC MarketScape, we consider four types of esignatures:

  • Click-to-sign (click wrap): Users “sign” and agree by clicking a button or checking a box.
  • Simple (basic): Signing is accomplished with scanned images, handwritten and/or typed names with no cryptographic protection. The signature must be applied by the individual associated with the signature, and the signature must be associated with the document that the signer intended to sign.
  • Advanced electronic or digital signature: In addition to the requirements for the simple signature, advanced signatures must be uniquely linked to, and capable of identifying, the signer and must be linked to the agreement. It must be possible to detect changes to the document after signing.
  • Qualified electronic or digital signature: This type of signature requires signers to use a certificate-based digital ID issued by a qualified trust service provider. The digital certificate is a secure, personal, and unique electronic identity credential that must be issued to the signer in a form they can keep under their control. The term qualified esignature is based on the EU regulation known as eIDAS, but other regions have similar models.

Related Research

  • Worldwide eSignature Software Forecast, 2023–2027 (IDC #US49992623, forthcoming)
  • Worldwide eSignature Software Market Shares, 2022: Preparing for the New AI Era (IDC #US49992723, forthcoming)
  • IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: Content-Centric Workflow 2.0 in the United States, 2023 (IDC #US50426223, May 2023)
  • IDC PlanScape: Secure eSignatures (IDC #US50403723, February 2023)
  • IDC MaturityScape: Content-Centric Workflow 2.0 (IDC #US47774322, August 2022)

IDC MarketScape: Worldwide eSignature Software 2023 Vendor Assessment