Navigating ongoing digitisation as the world returns to work

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Although South Africa faced the peak of its “Fourth Covid Wave” at the end of 2021, news reports show that the country is firmly heading back to business as usual. Mid-January a Daily Maverick report quoted the health minister, as he confirmed that “Gauteng has officially exited the fourth wave, while the rest of the provinces have reached their peak and are now on ‘steady decline’.”

While global digitisation was certainly sped up en-masse by the Covid lockdowns and Work From Home (WFH) protocols, it is showing no sign of slowing down as many businesses blow the dust off their desks and resume traditional office hours. At the start of 2022, this was propelled by the President’s announcement that the country had moved to an adjusted Level 1 lockdown, creating more freedoms and fewer restrictions.   

According to Carrie Peter, Solution Owner at Impression Signatures, moving to traditional work environments does not negate the need for digital innovations, such as electronic signatures (eSignatures). “Over the last two years we have seen a massive uptake in eSignature solutions. Now, as people return to work, this can offer even more efficiencies and reliability than before. Add to this the move towards hybrid workforces – working both from home and at an office – and digitisation remains an important business success factor.”

Those who were “forced” into embracing a digital approach to business by WFH soon realised the immense benefits. “These business leaders may not have understood the value proposition or were held back by the fear of the unknown. As a result, they were resisting deployment of solutions like eSignatures. Now, having had no other option, they are still reaping the reward for employing these solutions. It’s like a genie that has been let out of its bottle – there’s no putting it back now,” confirms Peter.

During the Covid lockdowns and beyond, whether working from home or in an office, eSignatures offer many valuable advantages. From low cost, fast rollout and adoption to operational efficiencies,  decreased environmental impact, adherence to Covid no touch protocols, improved audit and data integrity, and enhanced compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) – among others. “The fourth wave may be coming to an end, but POPIA is only getting started,” adds Peter.

Some businesses have taken to avoiding the consent element of any personal information interaction, because it can later be revoked. This is akin to playing Russian Roulette because it’s exactly the type of oversight that the Regulator is looking out for – hefting substantial fines for non-compliance. “From a POPIA perspective, the ability to provide a non-repudiable chain of evidence, and draw on data from advanced tracking capabilities, eSignatures are giving businesses the opportunity to remain compliant without straining operations,” adds Peter. “The beauty of eSignatures is that they offer enhanced governance and legal observance from anywhere, at any time.”

Dovetailing with this compliance benefit, eSignatures successfully add an element of certainty to remote activities. “With advanced tracking capabilities the opportunity for impersonation is eliminated, ensuring that only the actual required signatory can access and sign the document,” concludes Peter.