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Box Sign gives business users built-in digital signature tool

Box's $55 million acquisition of SignRequest in February yields a native digital signatures feature for Box Business and Enterprise cloud content management users.

Box Inc. has added digital signatures to its cloud content management platform at no extra cost for Business and Enterprise subscribers.

An option to sign a document will appear on the left menu pane familiar to Box desktop users. Users can either draw or type their signature. The visual appearance of a digital signature isn't the distinctive part, unlike the paper world; it's the unalterable time, date and user verification on the back end that matters.

Box will offer a digital signature API to deploy Box Sign in other platforms, such as Salesforce.

Digital signatures market on the upswing

It's an interesting time for the digital signatures market, said IDC analyst Holly Muscolino, because while there are numerous vendors in the field, including large players such as Adobe and DocuSign and many smaller vendors, the market is not yet mature.

The need for digital signatures was on a growth trajectory before the pandemic, and remote work accelerated it. Thus, it's unlikely that Box Sign will foul relationships with the numerous digital signature partners who integrate with Box, including DocuSign, HelloSign and SignNow, Muscolino said. Business users, regardless of cloud document management platform they use, still haven't digitized nearly all the workflows they need to. The pandemic's remote work trend made urgent the necessity to do so.

"Despite the pandemic, there's still huge amounts of paper," Muscolino said. "Maybe [digital signatures are] more mature in large organizations, but there's significant runway in mid-sized businesses."

Box CEO Aaron Levie said remote work will continue, and by extension, so will the growth of digital signatures. He also said that Box remains committed to being an open platform where all digital signature vendors are welcome to integrate.

Box Sign mobile interface
Box Sign enables mobile signatures, and assigns a date, time and user stamp to a digital signature representation on desktop and mobile channels.

"Even in the regions or environments where one might think it's completely safe to reenter an office -- from a health standpoint -- we're still seeing the hybrid work and remote work. It's just going to be with us forever," Levie said. "We're seeing it in our own employee population, we're seeing it with our customers. There's just a much more significant demand for flexible ways of working."

Box Sign arises from SignRequest acquisition

Box Sign was developed from SignRequest, which Box acquired for $55 million last February. While there were many small digital signature software vendors from which to choose, SignRequest scored well on user-review sites. And the company wasn't so small that the technology was an unknown.

"Customers really were voting this one of the best products from a user experience standpoint," Levie said. "They [also] had reached a really healthy level of scale in terms of proving out their products -- millions of documents have been signed on their platform."

Box leaders had discussed adding digital signatures for the last seven or eight years and considered their implementation "inevitable," according to Levie. The pandemic seemed to make it an urgent addition, which was backed up by a customer survey in which Box users named digital signatures "by far and away" the most-needed feature addition to the platform, among 20 others, he said.

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