Apr 11, 2024 - Technology

Docusign's next business is making contracts smarter

Screenshot of Docusign's new Navigator Intelligent Agreements Platform

Image: Docusign

Docusign, the e-signature giant, announced Thursday it is moving into a new software category — contracts — and will soon offer an AI-powered "intelligent agreement management platform."

Why it matters: Contracts are at the heart of most businesses, but they're a frequent pain point.

  • Employees and lawyers waste huge amounts of time and money reviewing and signing them — then discover that they failed to get what they intended, or allowed them to accidentally lapse.
  • Deloitte calculates the total global economic loss to slow and error-prone contracting processes at an eye-watering $2 trillion.

Docusign CEO Allan Thygesen said in a blog post that he believes its new contract tools are "the first entrant in a new Intelligent Agreement Management SaaS category."

  • The company's goal is to provide a central place for all agreements drafted or signed by an organization.
  • Docusign says its new platform is to paper contracts what digital maps are to paper ones.

Between the lines: The "intelligent agreements" Docusign will be offering are not to be confused with the "smart contracts" common in the blockchain and cryptocurrency world, which are more like agreements that execute themselves when certain conditions are met: self-driving deals.

  • Intelligent agreements incorporate AI and advanced analytics to help users spot contract risks and speed up contract processes.

How it works: Docusign is taking a hybrid approach with its AI models: a mix of its own foundation models and external LLMs.

  • Retrieval augmented generation is used to provide assurance to customers that the tools are not "hallucinating" or making stuff up, which could be disastrous in reviewing contracts.
  • The promise is that using generative AI models will to make all contracts fully searchable and summarizable, helping to ensure coherent standards across an organization's contracts, avoid lapsed contracts and ease enforcement.
  • An app center will allow customers to plug data from existing contract management systems into Docusign's.
  • Different tools within the new platform will be available for customer contracts, sales, HR and procurement teams.

Yes, but: Docusign's new platform won't launch until late May, the company said.

  • That could create an opportunity for larger companies — including Box, which already offers central repositories and automation services for contracts — to upgrade their offerings.

Context: Other specialized players such as Robin, which offers an AI copilot for contract lawyers, are aimed at law firms and in house counsel.

What they're saying: "Companies managing more than 20,000 agreements each year can increase revenue by $44 million or more by improving systems and processes," says Rohan Gupta, principal at Deloitte Consulting, which works with large companies.

  • The new Docusign tools will "allow us to automate the administrative work, so agents can spend more time selling properties and closing deals. This is the future of real estate," says Tim Charbonneau, a manager at Coldwell Banker Prime Properties.
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