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How e-sigs boost productivity

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Even though companies have saved millions by switching to digital processes, there are still many that rely on paper-based systems for transactions. AVI ROSE of DocuSign, believes that electronic signatures can help businesses save money and time.

Enterprises have already saved millions by switching their legacy processes to digital, but when it comes to actual transactions many still rely on old paper-based processes. The challenges and costs involved with paper-based transactional processes include volumes of printing, faxing, and overnighting costs; lack of transparency in document status; and delays caused by missing signatures. There is also an obvious limitation in that paper-based documents can only be filed in one place and accessed by one person at a time.

This inevitably leads to filing, archiving and document retrieval challenges due to multiple copies of critical documents made and stored in different locations, which makes it difficult to keep track of changes and authenticate the originals.  This inefficiency further causes compliance and security issues and the cost to organisation runs between R140 and R1300 per document, depending on whether the document can be found and whether it contains errors.

It makes sense, therefore, that businesses should consider a complete solution that utilises advanced electronic signatures to mitigate these costs and complications. This is particularly relevant in light of the fact that the rate at which we need to process, store and secure information is continually increasing. For example, organisations need to provide a faster way to sign and verify documents in order to improve customer satisfaction and meet service expectations. This would also enable them to eliminate direct bottom-line expenses that arise from printing, routing and replacing documents, as well as the indirect costs that arise from delays and other productivity obstructions.

Advanced electronic signatures are intended to replace paper-based processes where  legislation requires that documents are signed with a “wet” (pen and paper) signature.  The advanced electronic signature process means that a paper original with a wet signature will be replaced with a digitally signed file.  While the legislative and technological foundations for electronic signatures have been in place for many years, the only hurdle that remains is the need to implement an advanced electronic signature solution across an organisation in order to have a truly paperless process.

To make this transition easier, the process needs to be simplified and potential bottlenecks  identified; from authenticating authorised personnel through to maintaining the system. At an enterprise level hundreds of employees need to manage signature files so these files must be secure and accessible on demand. This requires that the management interface be integrated into the various applications that the organisation already uses – such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems – to deliver advanced electronic signatures in the context in which they’re needed. Without the right tools to deal with advanced electronic signatures, these benefits cannot be unlocked. By having the right system in place the vast majority of internal and external process relating to customers, suppliers and the like can be fully digitised, and there will no longer be a need for the organisation to stop the digital process to print a contract, sign each page, mail it off and then wait until it is returned.

A further important benefit of advanced electronic signatures, when compared to other signature methodologies, is that these signatures carry a high evidentiary weight, and the authenticity of the document to which they are attached can be guaranteed. This means that in a litigious situation, the burden of acquiring proof lies with the other party to disprove the authenticity of a signature. Just as important is the fact that advanced electronic signatures include a timestamp, which is useful when organisations need to know the exact time of signing.

In short, a solution for digitally signing documents that can be seamlessly integrated within an organisation’s existing management systems is not just crucial in overcoming productivity blockages; it is also necessary to ensure seamless compliance with the South African Electronic Communications and Transaction Act of 2002.

* Avi Rose, Regional Sales Manager Africa at DocuSign

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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