We are in the middle of a digital revolution which seems to have one of the biggest impacts in the mankind history. AI, social media, self-driving cars, cryptocurrencies, e-services are changing the way we do business, eat and sleep or governments interact with citizens. In this context digitization is no longer an option, but a MUST.
Switching processes and flows to paperless is not an easy task, especially because in the end everything must stay legally binding. At this point most of the companies become captive of 2 “actors”:
- Legal departments or legal advisors that are not familiar with technologies and latest Regulations and technical standards. They try to replicate the current flows (paper based and in-person presence) in the digital way
- IT departments that don’t accept everything technically possible is not necessary legal or is on the grey line.
They end up as their own victims by creating scenarios and requirements for solutions way too complicated, that either don’t ensure customer satisfaction or expose companies at huge risks.
Having said that, what are the ways to overcome these issues?
1. Before starting any acquisition talk to a consultant with know-how and solid background in digitization
Starting September 2014 in Europe entered into force the #eIDAS Regulation (910/2014). For the first time we have common rules, directly applicable in all EU MS, regarding eID and digital services (electronic signature, time stamps, eSeals, e-delivery, preservation of electronic signatures). Add some 150 standards and recommendations coming from ETSI, CEN, ENISA for these Trusted Services and we have the picture of a maze.
A good consultant can help you to define what services you need, how to choose providers and how to draw your flows staying compliant with national and international laws and regulations.
2. Define exactly what you need for a full digital process, having in mind all components
Digital signatures, time stamps, e-delivery are not enough if one piece is missing from the puzzle. That piece is Long Term Preservation (LTP).
“We have electronic archiving, should be enough” is the common answer I hear every time I discussed with important companies.
No, that is far from being enough. We are talking about fully paperless processes- you don’t have papers with handwritten signatures behind. You’ll have the only “original” document in digital form, signed with qualified electronic signatures. You must be able to check the validity of those signatures and the legality of that document over long period of time (more than 5-10 years). Storing this document in a classical electronic archiving system will not guarantee the possibility of validation in time. So, no validation, no document! Are you going to take this risk? Think twice before you answer.
Long Term Preservation is a system that “freezes” in time the digital document with electronic signatures and time stamps, ensuring the possibility of validation, at any point in time, that the document was signed, the digital signatures were valid and is legally binding the signers from the content. Integrity of the document can be easily verified all over its life cycle.
So choosing the good technologies and the good partners are critical for a successful digital transformation.