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How DocuSign is extending its capabilities beyond e-signatures

DocuSign is harnessing large language models to help individuals make sense of agreements and employing AI-based biometrics to verify the identity of signers, as part of its broader efforts to expand its capabilities beyond electronic signatures

While DocuSign is often associated with electronic signatures, the San Francisco-based technology firm has been expanding its capabilities to assist enterprises and users in better managing agreements and contracts.

Speaking to Computer Weekly on the sidelines of DocuSign Momentum 2023 Singapore, Inhi Cho Suh, president of product, technology and operations at DocuSign, highlighted the company’s commitment to shaping the future of agreements.

“We want to not only manage single documents but also orchestrate the entire process. We currently manage over six petabytes of contract data for our customers, which puts us in a unique position,” Suh said.

To achieve this, DocuSign has been harnessing open-source large language models (LLMs) that have been tailored for agreements to enhance the accuracy, performance, and scalability of the agreement process. Suh pointed out that most open-source models are trained to read and write content from the internet, which differs from contract language.

“We’re uniquely positioned to understand contract language, working with partners and customers to understand their data dictionaries for their enterprise, and then thinking about new ways of innovating on the solutions,” she said.

One such innovation is DocuSign AI Labs, a beta environment that enables customers to upload contracts and receive summaries containing information such as involved parties, dates, and key content. Users can also inquire about agreements using natural language and receive layman explanations. Suh said there are hundreds of customers in the waitlist to try out the innovations in AI Labs, which DocuSign will be bringing to the Asia-Pacific region.

Additionally, DocuSign has developed identity verification capabilities utilising AI-based biometrics. This enables organisations to verify the authenticity of a person signing a contract, including matching their face to the government-issued credentials associated with the contract.

Suh noted that traditional knowledge-based authentication and know-your-customer (KYC) processes typically involve businesses asking for their customers’ mothers’ maiden names and their last three addresses, adding that the identity verification space is “incredibly ripe for disruption”.

DocuSign is also revamping the way organisations collect data from customers, often through online or PDF forms requiring backend management to extract and use the data in agreements. In April 2023, it introduced Web Forms, allowing organisations to capture data from fillable forms and populate agreement content dynamically for signatures.

By the end of this year, DocuSign plans to launch an identity wallet, enabling individuals to persist their identity within an organisation, reducing the need for repeated checks. This is achieved by issuing certificates with defined validity periods.

Suh stressed that these expansions into new areas align with DocuSign’s goal of transforming the entire agreement process and expanding its market reach. She also mentioned that while DocuSign is venturing into identity verification and other specialised areas, the company remains open to partnerships.

“We believe that the broader category of intelligent agreement management will have partners. In the identity space today, there will be capabilities we deliver, but we will also partner by region because the partners we need in Singapore are different from the partners we might need in Germany,” she explained.

Suh highlighted the essential role of partners such as consultants, systems integrators, and independent software vendors as DocuSign advances its capabilities, especially when integrating with various applications and data systems.

“As we consider AI, extensibility of the data models will also require partnerships. We want to be partner-first driven, particularly across Asia,” she added.

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