DocuSign CEO: WalMart and other customers keep finding new use cases for digital transformation

What had been COVID-19-induced panic buying in digital signatures is turning into a steady state of change, says Dan Springer.
Written by Tiernan Ray, Senior Contributing Writer

"That's what we tend to see: people use something that pulls them into the digital transformation world, and then they look around and see there's so much more opportunity." DocuSign CEO Dan Springer says an acceleration of digital transformation in the pandemic is leading to a steady state of re-evaluating business that will last. 


Panic buying of software, which dominated the first half of this year, is leading now to a more measured, long-term regime of digital transformation.

That is the view of the CEO of one of the companies at the heart of digital transformation, DocuSign chief executive Dan Springer.

"I wouldn't call it business as usual, by any stretch, but we are getting closer to thinking longer term and a little bit less of that frenzy that people had," said Springer, in a video interview Friday.

Springer spoke following a report Thursday afternoon of fiscal Q3 results that once again comfortably beat expectations, and yet another increase in the company's revenue outlook for the year. 

"Digital transformation has accelerated," said Springer. But the discussion with customers is different, he said. "Last quarter, we were still seeing urgency, as companies were dealing with work-from home."

"Now, we're seeing CIOs in our customers settling down a little bit, we're still in the pandemic, but we understand we need to build our business to last, and we need to get these digital transformation projects done." 

Springer said projects that take longer to implement, things such as using machine learning approaches to analysis, are "starting to come back up on people's radar" after having been somewhat sidelined in the rush of the pandemic. 

Asked what will happen in a world after the pandemic, perhaps, next year, Springer went through a number of use cases.

Companies are finding new things to digitize, after having done the most-urgent work of digitization at the outset of the pandemic, he said. 

Take WalMart. The company typically has to keep a paper copy of hiring agreements, for legal purposes, and would fax the paper copy to headquarters in Arkansas. "They looked at it, and said — you know, WalMart is actually a very savvy, technologically, company — and they were just building more and more filing cabinets, and they said this is crazy." The company is now in the process of rolling out digitization to all its stores, said Springer, so they won't have to keep holding paper copies. 

That's just one example, said Springer, of use cases that emerge beyond the pandemic. A new customer example is a school district with whom Springer personally spoke. The district has 20,000 teachers and 300,000 students. They were initially focused on their immediate back-to-school concerns. "They had to get all of their teachers to work online, there were contracts and various documents to get done," he recalled.

"Those particular use cases will be dramatically reduced," going forward, "but they have already identified a massive number of use cases that they could do going forward to continue to transform their business that don't have anything to do with the pandemic, don't have anything to do with virtual instruction.

For example, the district always on-boards teachers by having a person come in person to an office to show their I.D. to prove citizenship. "They are saying now, could we do that with the virtual notary capability [of DocuSign] and do it online, and not have to come in, in-person."

"They're saying can we re-invent the whole process of hiring people," is how Springer characterized things. 

"That's what we tend to see: people use something that pulls them into the digital transformation world, and then they look around and see there's so much more opportunity." 

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