Leadership Insights podcast | episode 4

Converging eSignature and content automation

Leadership Insights podcast
Episode 4

Stitcher     Spotify     Apple     Google

Episode summary

In this episode of Nintex CEO Eric Johnson’s Leadership Insights podcast, we hear from Aragon Research CEO and founder Jim Lundy. Listen in to hear Eric and Jim discuss the advantage of combining various forms of automation to achieve digital transformation. Aragon predicts that 70% of business processes are still heavily dependent on paper – which means we all have a huge opportunity to boost efficiency with automation.


HOST
Eric Johnson
Nintex CEO

GUEST
Jim Lundy
Aragon Founder and Lead Analyst

 

Transcript:

ERIC:

00:00 | Hi, everyone. Welcome to leadership insights from Nintex. I’m Eric Johnson, CEO of Nintex. We are a leading process management and automation provider with over 10,000 customers and 800 plus team members around the globe. With me today, I have Jim Lundy, who is the founder, CEO and lead analyst at Aragon research. Jim, it’s great to have you join us today.

JIM:

00:29 | Happy to be here, Eric.

ERIC:

00:30 | For those of you don’t know, Aragon research is an independent research and advisory firm founded in 2011 by former Gartner lead analyst and our guest today, Jim Lundy. Aragon provides business and IT executives with actionable insights to navigate today’s technologies ever-evolving impact on business. Back in August, I joined Jim for an Aragon podcast, where we discussed the Nintex acquisition of AssureSign a strategic approach to bring eSignature capabilities to the Nintex Process Platform. With this acquisition Nintex is better positioned in the digital transaction management (DTM)  market—which is a research area that Aragon continues to analyze every year. And pioneer! This podcast can be found on the Aragon website. Today, we might cover a little bit of the DTM market. But our focus is on the broader topic of automation and digital business platforms. And Aragon’s latest research regarding both. Before I get started on my questions, let me allow Jim to introduce himself.

JIM:

01:32 | Hey, thanks, Eric. And I think you covered most of it. As an analyst, I’m diving into all the things relevant to the tech industry. Things like digital workplace, digital platforms, we’re going to talk about today, AI, also known as artificial intelligence, automation, content, collaboration, communications, etc. At Aragon, we know that video is the quickest way to transfer information. So we’ve embraced the concept of visual research, which allows us to share key concepts, technology trends, competitive insights in a video that’s two minutes or less. For those who want to learn more, you can visit our Aragon guests network on our website.

ERIC:

2:14 | You know, Jim, I think I can speak for everyone. And for every executive out in the market, when I say we don’t have a ton of spare time on our hands, we’re always working right? It just never stops. So any chance to get business insights, even faster is a huge win for us. But let’s get started. I have a few questions for you, Jim today, and I’m hoping you can provide insights to myself and our listeners based on your latest research. So why don’t we just start off here? What are some of the fastest growing market segments that you’re seeing across the enterprise?

JIM:

2:43 | Eric, that’s a loaded question. But you know, we do cover a lot of emerging markets that maybe other firms are not covering. And one of the fastest growing ones is actually tied to digital transaction management called clickwrap. And clickwrap, is a kind of an outgrowth of DTM that kind of allows people to do a transaction online, and kind of have the terms and conditions tied to it with so when you click that you accept, you’re actually accepting terms and conditions such as buying a car online. And so we actually see clickwrap as one of the fastest growing, but DTM is in there to. Maybe overall a little bit slower than it was a couple years ago. So when you look at that whole area, if we just put it under the Workflow Content Automation area, that’s an area obviously your company’s highly involved in, those actually fall into the top five as the fastest growing the markets.

ERIC:

3:35 | Excellent. Do you have any predictions about future evolution of workflow and Content Automation?

JIM:

3:40 | We do we do. In fact, I started a story around custom publishing, or sometimes called a database publishing way back when I was young analysts at Gartner. So when we introduced Workflow and Content Automation, actually, back in 2016, it really started a revolution today. What we’re seeing as far as the future is AI that can start to assemble content on the fly. The ability for applications to read documents and understand them. And then, for example, give feedback to the user. We’re early innings. We think, in this whole, you know, we just shortcut and call it “Content Automation.”

4:20 | A lot of the focus has been on text documents, we do think the assembly of rich content is actually coming. So you can put together a video or set of images, automatically different use cases than content. But really, we really do think we’re in early innings. Obviously, Nintex has helped to lead the way in Workflow and Content Automation.

4:43 | A lot of people are still discovering that that the art of the possible that way we didn’t know we can automatically generate documents from Salesforce from our CRM. We didn’t know that. A lot of are still stuck in batch publishing. But with more intelligence coming online, we think that we’re only scratching the surface with just the beginning of what we call now intelligent Content Automation, with AI coming into the fold.

ERIC:

5:09 | Yeah, Jim, I totally agree. I mean, the number of organizations that we talked to, and I spend time with, where you realize they’re still very early on. And so when you think about intelligent Content Automation, we have so much opportunity in this market. Just absolutely massive.

05:20 | So just thinking about past predictions. I remember one that I had read from Aragon, that it stated in the past that by 2024, half of the RPA providers will merge or be acquired. With all the pandemics disruptions, do you still stand by that prediction?

JIM:

05:38 | We do. We think there may have been a slowdown during the pandemic, but there is an awful lot of shopping going on. And we do think that RPA is ripe to consolidate. You’re seeing moves by a lot of providers to add more capabilities into their bigger digital platforms that we’re going to talk about. And obviously Nintex has a digital platform for sure. But we also look at RPA as being a small part of the overall we call digital labor movement. Where you’re looking at all types of process content, automation, and just the rise of virtual agents, also called in tech terms: chat bots. So we see that market going to about 15 billion by 2026 is a big market that a lot of people have missed.

06:25 | And it’s like I said, classic movement in markets is when the market starts to grow. More people want to get in, and it drives M&A. So we do stand by that prediction, and we think it’s definitely going to happen, it could even be bigger than half of what we originally forecasted.

ERIC:

6:45 | Jim, I’m gonna jump in there with you on that one. I think you’re are spot on. I feel like every month now, I see another announcement, somebody in ERP space getting acquired. I definitely get outreach from bankers on some of these companies that are looking for a new home. So I couldn’t agree with you more there, you’re spot on.

7:00 | You know, looking ahead a little bit more broadly here, Jim, are you willing to share any predictions about the future of digital business platforms?

JIM:

7:07 | Yeah, we sure are. First of all, Digital Business Platform is kind of a concept, we came up back in 2016 timeframe. And really, the big idea between behind a digital platform is that a lot of businesses need to re-architect. And that means sometimes re platforming or building new digital applications that kind of combined past legacy things into kind of one thing. One of the things we got feedback from many clients over the last couple of years (including, you know, many firms and financial institutions) that said, we can’t fully re-platform we have too much legacy. So earlier this year, in July, we introduced something that’s kind of like a build on the evolution of digital business, which is Transformation Platform as a Service or TPAS. And the idea there is you got to be able to leverage what you already have versus totally redesigning and replatforming. And I think that’s one of the things Eric, you’re going to see is that more people will probably lean in on the idea of a TPAS. Meaning wait a minute, I can leverage what I have. But I can still make it more fully digital.

08:13 | That’s kind of an evolution of what we call the IPAS market, which were basically connectors that connected applications together, but maybe didn’t connect them that well. And maybe didn’t make them digital. So we kind of see a connection there. But in many cases, there’s still a need to have a full digital experience, or maybe even take that experience on a website and make it fully mobile. And again, I know these are some of the areas that Nintex is looking at it because you do offer a full digital platform.

ERIC:

8:41 | Those are great points there, Jim, I think that makes a whole lot of sense. When you look at organizations, they’ve already made all these investments, they don’t want to start to certainly start over right, a lot of them can’t. And so figuring out a way to leverage what you have make it better still make tremendous progress on digital transformation. That makes a ton of sense. I think that is a spot on. And that’s practical. A lot of these businesses, we all have our hype and our Bud was buzzwords and all this, but they want practical progress. And I think your view on that is just excellent.

JIM:

9:11 | One of the things I would just I thought Eric that makes it neat for what you are doing it so well at Nintex is, you can do both process automation. And you can also do content automation. And so for a lot of institutions that have issues, being able to marry those two things together is something that a lot of classic RPA providers cannot do.

ERIC:

9:30 | You’re spot on. And I think that’s why the industry overall you’re seeing a lot of consolidation and convergence of these concepts. Because I think the customer fundamentally is realizing they’ve got business challenges and it combines content automation, it combines process automation. Something like RPA alone. It’s just not enough for what they’re trying to solve for and I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of this.

9:51 | You know that kind of brings me to a broader question here that you got me thinking of in that whole discussion. You when you say something like or we think to ourselves, you know, enterprises should look at digital As platforms that go beyond process automation, you know, as an overall architecture for digital transformation, what do you mean by that?

JIM:

10:09 | So, you know, it’s interesting. I mean, you know, a lot of times when we cover real technology, and we write research about it, a lot of people call us, they just want to talk about the technology. But in many cases, they haven’t looked at their architecture. So one of our lead analysts here, Betsy burden is well known in enterprise architecture circles. And she’s been writing about business architecture.

10:34 | So sometimes before you say, hey, I need to deploy a digital platform, you kind of need to look at, like, how would we put it to work? And what does the business architecture look like that says when we’re fully digital? For example, is the online experience going to be a replication of the store experience, ie, a digital twin, a lot of people haven’t thought that through. And so they get enamored with the technology, but they don’t have a plan. So that’s where we kind of think that having a digital architecture that you had a footprint about how you’re going to do this.

11:08 | And then you start to look at how you deploy the technology to fit. Kind of like that architecture that you’re kind of putting together. It’s kind of like building a house with no plan. And so that’s why we do talk about business architecture these days. One of the things that’s the big takeaway, that a lot of people now know, I mean, if you’re a business leader, you know, this, is that business leaders are making decisions for technology. And so what we’re saying is you still have to plan, and that’s probably an area of opportunity for business leaders is there are some classic things that IT was really good at–which was planning. And all we’re saying is you got to think about it and plan a little bit more about how this will work for business users. And sometimes you do it in phases.

ERIC:

11:51 | That’s just spot on. I mean, we see over-and-over again, that in our customer base, the folks that are most successful. They’ve got a high degree of that planning and organization and thinking through what they’re trying to accomplish, why they’re trying to accomplish it. The set of resources and team members who are going to be involved the right architecture to support it. Those are the companies that get the greatest outcome. The companies who just start doing stuff, end up with very piecemeal results, they end up with disappointment, they end up with dismay. You know, I think the overall move in the market that you’re talking about to more planning, more thoughtful in architecture, I think it’s going to yield a lot higher ROI, which is really what we want to have happen.

JIM:

12:29 | A lot of business leaders like to do a lunch and learn. They say if it doesn’t work, we’ll just turn it off. But it’s like, yeah, but like, let’s think this through a little bit more. Let’s build a bigger playbook plan. And that you’re right, to your point that people that do that, generally, you’re going to have a better ROI sooner, rather than the people are just testing.

ERIC:

12:44 | Yeah. Well, so you know, you get kind of past the giant vision of some of the things we just talked about, it is amazing to just how much opportunity, you know, continues to exist in DTM. Right? And there’s just so many companies that need so much there. So I’d love to get an update on your vision of what’s the future specifically for digital transaction management, what do you think of where that markets going?

JIM:

13:05 | As amazing as it seems that when we kind of discovered the DTM market in 2014, which is really about automating paper processes: we think we’ve only scratched the surface. Most processes today are still paper-based. We estimate that still today, almost 70% of all processes that are conducted relative to agreements, which is usually a document that people sign that they’re still paper, or they’re mimicking paper, meaning they haven’t been automated. So it says, oh, y’all rendered as a PDF, and we can time but that’s the first step in digital transformation.

13:42 | We think is still early innings. We have DTM market, going about 29 billion, just for pure eSignature related paper replacement. And like I said, we still think that 70%. And it used to be 90%. But we’re down about 70. That’s still massive, there’s a lot of geographical differences because of culture and norms about the way people do things. Paper is a very, very popular way to conduct business. But in an age of COVID, it’s not good to touch paper because you don’t know where it’s been and things like that. So doing it digitally and electronically is really the first step and then starting to integrate that more into the business process. And again, that’s where the content automation comes into play and that’s whatNintex has been leading with.

14:27 | You have the full solution set now for DTM and full automation. So sometimes people want to start with let’s get rid of the paper and sign electronically. And then we can start to redo how we actually generate that thing in the first place. So that’s kind of a two-step dance, but we are very bullish on it. We’d note that you know, many firms missed this market. Many content management companies missed this market and they’re just now waking up to the fact that wow, this looks like a great market. So I think it’s give you a tip of the hat for buying AssureSign I think that gives you native capabilities. Massive market out there. And like I said, we’re still just kind of getting started.

ERIC:

15:16 | Jim, I completely agree with you. We just see it every day. So many organizations, you know, most of them still have 60, 70, 80% of their content, you know, their processes, paper-based manual emails, spreadsheets. I mean, just terrible, right? And we can, we can help solve those problems, as can a few others. And this opportunity is so massive. I know for me, I wake up in the middle of night thinking of things. I’m flying out of bed in the morning, because there’s just so much business to go do right. There’s so many people to help. That’s just super fun. So Jim, we appreciate all your insight. Every time you and I get together. I think we feed on our mutual energy because there’s just so much opportunity, right? And it’s just, it’s so fun. So Jim, thank you for sharing with us today.

JIM:

15:45 | Thanks for having me. Eric. It’s really great to speak with you.

ERIC:

15:48 | You know, Jim, it’s always mutual. And I also want to thank everyone who’s listening today, wherever you may be in the world. We appreciate your time. Thank you.