DocuSign Event Highlights Covid-driven SaaS Acceleration

One of the SMB SaaS companies I’ve followed consistently is DocuSign, the digital signature company. I’ve followed the company for a couple of reasons. One is that I refuse to replace my barely used, malfunctioning printer with a new, also barely used ink glutton.

Living without a printer (and its scanner) makes me wish everyone I do business with would offer a digital signature option. Banks have largely figured this out. But the number of large companies that require analog rather than digital signatures continues to amaze me.

Another reason I’ve watched DocuSign with some consistency is that what it’s doing for small businesses plays a major role in small business digital adoption. Digital signature adoption is kind of an SMB SaaS gateway drug.

How much time is saved when customers and businesses shift to digital signature? Compared with the kludgy old methods of printing and faxing (what is faxing?) or scanning and emailing? A lot. By shifting to a digital signature a business can much more seamlessly get the necessary papers signed and returned with little inconvenience to the customer or the office staff.

A third reason is that my son worked at DocuSign for a couple of years and I learned a ton from him about its small business sales practices and approach. I consider whatever DocuSign is up to as an indicator of where other SaaS companies are heading.

Helping SMBs Move Forward

So it was with some curiosity and interest that I signed up for a recent DocuSign virtual event called “Helping Your Small Business Move Forward.” Like many virtual events, I wasn’t free when they ran it live. But I did watch the replay.

Like most tech companies, DocuSign was once a small business with fewer than 100 employees. Today, nearly 4,000 people work there. Since its 2003 launch, DocuSign has been committed to making it easier for businesses and their customers to do business. The company went public in April of 2018 and has since added 400% in shareholder value.

CEO Dan Springer said during the virtual event that 90% of the company’s customers are SMBs. While I was unable to find segment information, my best guess is that small businesses make up less than 50% of the company’s overall revenues.

The Event, Play by Play

Here are a few segments from the event that are worth watching.

At the 4:00 mark, CEO Springer and Robin Joy, SVP & GM, SMB Marketing and Digital Sales for DocuSign, discuss how important small business is to DocuSign.

“Small businesses should…avail themselves of the same digital transformation opportunities as large businesses do,” Spring said.

Then, at the 6:15 mark, the executives discuss the value of making DocuSign software easy for SMBs to use.

“All of our customers want our products to be easy to use. But particularly for those that do not have IT departments we want to ensure we have easy to use products,” Springer said. “The goal we set is to have that same ease of use that you see in a consumer Internet product.”

They stress the importance of this and then shift to three of DocuSign’s small business customers. Each customer discussion began with the business operator talking about their business, and the challenges they faced during the pandemic. Then the business owner would talk about how they shifted the adoption of the software into high gear.

A Quick Pivot to Telehealth

At the 8:10 minute mark, they talk with Colorado mental health provider Carl Nassar of Heart-Centered Counseling. During the conversation, Nassar reveals that when COVID hit, they had to move the entire practice to telehealth. Nassar said the investment in telehealth was originally designed to extend his practice into more rural areas of the state.

“Our investment in telehealth three years ago turned out to be a very important investment for us,” Nassar said. “Because when Covid-19 hit, boy that was a quick shift.”

Heart-Centered had to get its thousands of patients to sign HIPPA privacy forms in order to pivot to telehealth. The fastest way was by using the DocuSign platform. Nassar talked about how before COVID, its telehealth practice was 5% to 10% of their patient engagements. During the shutdown, that figure jumped to 100%. He expects whenever the pandemic situation eases, they will stabilize at about 30% telehealth.

Here is yet another piece of evidence that the great pandemic of 2020 is going to accelerate the adoption and use of SaaS solutions. Absent the pandemic, how long would it have taken for Heart-Centered to move from 5% telehealth to 30%? We imagine this event cut at least a year off of that adoption curve. In the near term, one wonders what DocuSign’s revenues will look like when a place like Heart-Centered moves from 100% telehealth back to a steady-state of 30% telehealth. This will be the challenge many SaaS providers will face when the normal economy returns.

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