Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Digital Signatures And Document Management

English: Diagram illustrating how a simple dig...
Diagram illustrating how a simple digital signature is applied and verified. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to Wikipedia, a digital signature is "a mathematical scheme for demonstrating the authenticity of a digital message or document. A valid digital signature gives a recipient reason to believe that the message was created by a known sender such that they cannot deny sending it (authentication and non-repudiation) and that the message was not altered in transit (integrity). Digital signatures are commonly used for software distribution, financial transactions, and in other cases where it is important to detect forgery or tampering."

Digital signatures make Document Management more powerful, since digital signatures offer all the same advantages that a regular signature does (identify the author, show agreement with the terms of the document, confirm that the document has been read and guarantee that the document cannot be modified). We also have the advantage that the document can be signed collaboratively, connecting a document and its signing process to a workflow.

In this way, within any organization (whether it be a business or a public agency) located in various places, we can carry out collaborative signings of documents, among people who might be located in different countries.

Let’s take the examples of selling a business or changing the deed to a residence. Both of those processes involve documents that have to be read by various parties, and each of those parties might need various copies of the documents. Using a document management system integrated with digital signatures  is a much more efficient way of handling the process, so that each of the users can read the document and sign it from anywhere, at any time, from their own computer (or even from a mobile device.)

There are many ways in which this application can be applied. If it costs between €7 and €12 to send an invoice nationally by courier (including the costs of work time, a stamp, an envelope, printing the invoice and paper), reducing material costs (which then go to €0) and an estimated 90% reduction in the time it takes to generate a digitally-signed invoice (an e-invoice), it means that we can carry out this process at a cost to the business that’s less than €1. It definitely means making gains in efficiency, not only by saving money, but also in control, security and time: we can offer better customer service if they can be sent invoices, or signed contracts that they may need, etc., instantaneously.

What’s stopping you from making the move to digital signatures?

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  3. Traditional signatures within a traditional lab notebook or electronic signatures within an electronic lab notebook.