Adobe launches new cloud-based eSignature service

Like everyone, I sign stuff, lots of stuff — NDAs, contracts, and all sorts of other documents. I always find myself frustrated with the signature process.

The simple act of signing doesn’t particularly bother me. It’s all the mundane tasks that need to be completed before and after signing that drive me batty.

First, I typically receive the document to be signed in electronic form — meaning I need to print it out to sign it. Then, I need to figure out how to get it back to the other party. In some cases, I might need to find an overnight envelope, fill-in the address form, stick the document in the envelope, seal the envelope, and then find a drop box. Depending on where I am, this could take up to an hour, round trip. (Did you know that people spend $7.4B/year overnighting documents just because a signature is needed?)

Or in some cases, I need to fax it back. Faxing might be quicker, but it’s no easier: (1) create a cover sheet, (2) print the cover sheet, (3) fill in the receiving parties information, and (4) walk down to the fax machine and stand next to it waiting for the transmission to complete. But wait, I’m not done — the person whom I’ve faxed it to usually wants an ‘original copy’! So now I’m back to hunting for an overnight envelope…

Oh brother.

There’s got to be a better way. Why can’t we just sign things electronically? In this Internet age, signing something really should be as easy and fast as sending an email.

It turns out that Adobe already has a big, well established business providing a highly secure digital signature capability into large banks, the military and a number of governments. In fact, we’re a market leader in digital signatures. The first digitally signed judicial order was executed using Adobe technology as was the FY 2011 US Federal Budget. We’ve built a digital signature capability into Adobe® Acrobat® and we have a server-side technology called Adobe® LiveCycle® that supports digital signatures in automated workflows. This type of digital signature requires sophisticated computer infrastructure that’s often beyond the reach of small businesses and individuals. And therein lies the opportunity — take our LiveCycle signature technology, put it in the cloud and simplify it to make it easy for everyday signatures.

Today we’re announcing the beta release of this service. We’re calling it Adobe eSignatures™. We wanted to create something that was easy to use, fast, accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a browser, and that wasn’t overloaded with complicated features.

The service is really convenient. Just go to Adobe eSignatures and sign-in. There you’ll find a very simple guided process that allows you to upload a PDF, designate the email address of the other party, and click to sign. You don’t need any special tokens or smartcards.

eSig1.PNG

eSig2.PNG

Unlike paper documents, when a document is executed using Adobe eSignatures, it is certified to provide additional assurance that the document has not changed since it was signed. If you subsequently open the document in Adobe® Reader® or Adobe Acrobat you’ll see a blue ribbon at the top of the screen. If someone modifies a document after it has been signed, Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat will detect that something has changed and the blue ribbon will no longer appear.

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Adobe eSignatures complies with both the US ESign Act of 2000 and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). According the US ESign Act, “signatures and records cannot be denied legal validity simply because they are electronic.”

So give it a try and let us know what you think. There’re a few things that we’d like to add to the service, but we want to hear from you first so that we can know what things are most important. We hope you’ll find our new service easy and convenient and we hope you’ll use it for all of your everyday signature tasks.

I look forward to hearing from you,
Paul McNamara
Entrepreneur in Residence, Cloud Computing

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Comments

    May 14, 2010

    Excited writes:

    This is PHENOMENAL!!!!

    I am so excited that I don’t know what to do with myself! What great news for my small business clients. I am aware of esignatures vendors, but I sure am glad Adobe is joining them.

    BIG Question – Will my gorgeous dynamic PDF forms work on Adobe eSignatures or does it work only with static PDF forms?

    May 14, 2010

    Mike writes:

    Adobe are obviously rushing to create Cloud services, with Acrobat.com etc.

    However in not investing in improving their desktop offerings, they may be putting all their eggs in one basket.

    For example, at the moment people can use the Adobe Reader to digitally sign documents – all it needs is for the original PDF to have been ‘Reader Extended’ e.g. by Acrobat Pro or LiveCycle servers.

    Instead of a dual bet – developing and improving the desktop AND the cloud solution – Adobe seem to be obsessed with the Cloud. The downside is that it is far easier for end-users to switch Cloud services than it is desktop apps.

    Someone who has Reader installed, and finds it easy to use for digisigs, will likely not change to another PDF Reader. Someone using Adobe’s Cloud signing service this week… can change to the newer, shinier Apple/Microsoft/whoever cloud option next week…

    May 14, 2010

    Tink writes:

    Sound interesting, I too hate the process of signing stuff.

    May 17, 2010

    Yariv Bashan writes:

    Hi,

    Will it possible to use a smartcard to sign the document assuming I want to sign the docuemnt in my organizations name or in my name?

    Thanks,
    Yariv Bashan

    May 18, 2010

    David Wall writes:

    Really, Adobe is pretending that these are the only solutions to online signing when there are myriad competitors well established in this space, many going back 10 or more years.

    The worry for the modern world is why would anybody bet on PDFs for an online world?

    May 19, 2010

    Paul McNamara, Entrepreneur in Residence, Cloud Computing writes:

    David, thanks for your comment. For more than 10 years Adobe has been a pioneer in the field of digital signatures. With our eSignature Service we are taking the next step in making electronic signatures easier and more accessible. PDF is a widely adopted open standard that is supported by a wide variety of document authoring applications. It’s a convenient and versatile format which can live comfortably in both the physical paper world and the electronic world.

    May 20, 2010

    Brandon writes:

    Nice. I’ve worked with another eSig. solution on occasion, and it will be interesting to see how this compares, specifically in regards to ease of use and available features.

    Also, in reading the TOU for Adobe E-Signatures, I believe there is a typo in section 6.:

    “ADOBE SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY USE THE SERVICE IN CONNECTION WITH ANY DOCUMENT THAT IS:”

    I think there is supposed to be an “OF” between “USE” and “THE,” but then again, I am no legalese expert.

    http://www.adobe.com/products/eulas/pdfs/E-Signatures_Additional_TOU-en_US20100419_1617.pdf

    May 20, 2010

    Paul McNamara, Entrepreneur in Residence, Cloud Computing writes:

    Brandon, good catch. We’ll get this fixed. Thanks.

    November 16, 2010

    Haluk Tezcan writes:

    We have been looking into an eSign platform. We were excited to see Adobe’s product but when we tried the following limitations were seen:
    1. the view of the document before signing is not optimal, one cannot download and view the document, the window in which the document is presented is small.
    2. There is no customization of the signature page. Usually, there should be a statement after which the signature(s) appear.

    Otherwise the platform is very user friendly and a quick learning curve.
    Thank you.

    November 16, 2010

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Thanks for the valuable feedback! I’ve passed it on to the team.

    January 03, 2011

    Stephen writes:

    I would like to know what this will cost when out of beta form? But like most corporations and forums like these I will likely not get that answer!

    January 04, 2011

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for the question – the service will remain in beta for the near term as we evaluate user feedback, including pricing. Feel free to share with us any concerns and ideas- we’d love to hear them.

    January 05, 2011

    Steve Davis writes:

    What if I want to imbed adobe esign technology into my documents or into forms sent from erp software like http://www.netsuite.com?

    January 06, 2011

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the question – we have received a lot of interest in the ability to integrate with other applications (such as NetSuite) and are working on functionality to allow this. We will share an update when it is available.

    March 22, 2011

    Jane Kershner writes:

    I’d like to use esignatures to get the parents of 400 high school seniors to sign the same waiver so they may attend our graduation party. It’s one form, but 400 email addresses. Can I use esignatures to distribute to a large group where only 1 unique signature is required on the same form for each student?

    March 23, 2011

    Matt Rozen writes:

    Hi -

    The one-request workflow is not a capability that we support today but we are working to provide advanced workflow functionalities in the future.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    April 03, 2011

    Martha writes:

    I tried to use it to e-sign, but only I need to sign it. I don’t need anyone else to sign it, but it won’t let just one person sign a document!!! I can’t go to the next step without having to add more emails to sign when I don’t need anyone else to sign! I think there NEEDS to be an option where only the person creating the document needs to sign it, and not a party of people.

    April 03, 2011

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Martha,

    Thank you for the valuable feedback! I will share it with the team.

    Pooja

    May 20, 2011

    Brian Rush writes:

    Hi Pooja,

    Any update to the possibility of integration with NetSuite or other CRMs?

    Thanks,
    Brian

    May 20, 2011

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Brian!

    I checked with the team and we do not have any immediate plans to integrate NetSuite with other CRMs but appreciate your feedback.

    Thanks,
    Pooja

    June 20, 2011

    Ritch writes:

    A service that has been around for years offering the same thing -
    http://rightsignature.com.

    E-Signature services such as this have been offering electronic signature services for quite some time. You can never go wrong with a digital signature!

    Ritch

    February 25, 2012

    electronic signature writes:

    So true, electronic signature technology promises a host of benefits for your business: contracts signed faster, reduced paper and postage costs, stronger legal defensibility, and satisfied customers.

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