Another Top 100 solution provider gets acquired

Solution provider Silanis is to be acquired by e-signature and authentication firm Vasco Data Security. The deal, worth US$85 million ($110 Million in Canadian dollars), will enable Silanis to expand its international footprint, the company said.

In this year’s CDN Top 100 Solution Providers rankings Silanis made it to No. 59 reporting revenues of $20 to $25 million. Silanis becomes the 12th CDN Top 100 member to be either acquired, merged with another member or be acquired itself this year.

Silanis’ flagship solution is the e-SignLive, a SaaS-based electronic document signing service that has to date largely targeted U.S. and Canadian customers. Its CEO Tommy Petrogiannis said that the company differentiates itself from competitors including Docusign and RightSignature in several ways.

Firstly, the company focuses on regulated market segments and has recently started offering regional data storage to help customers remain compliant. Last November, it signed a deal to host customer data with IBM Canada.

IBM Canada is a separate subsidiary of IBM and it stores data on Canadian soil, meaning that its data cannot be commandeered under the Patriot Act, Petrogiannis said. Silanis is also rolling out local storage capabilities in other regions.

Silanis, which encrypts everything both in transit and at rest, is SOC2-certified, and audited every six months by KPMG. It offers companies the option to manage their own encryption keys within its Hardware Storage Modules (HSMs), and also lets them deploy its code base behind their own firewall, if regulations prevent them from putting the documents in the cloud. This is the case with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is a Silanis client, Petrogiannis said.

The e-SignLive solution has relied on document signing techniques including click-to-sign, live handwritten signature capture, and fax back signing. Vasco offers two-factor authentication (2FA) with its Digipass product line, which will provide an extra level of authentication for regulated users.

What should CIOs consider when folding electronic document signing into their own operations? It can certainly drive efficiencies into corporate processes by eliminating paper and speeding up document transmission. Is it legal, though?

Petrogiannis explained that electronic document signing has been legal since 2000 in Canada, and that there are only a few specific documents that must be hand-signed, such as last will and testaments. “In Canada, we were slightly ahead of the U.S. In 2000 it became available in pretty much all jurisdictions,” he said.

In Canada, the 2000 PIPEDA privacy law defined electronic signatures in law. It lists two types: an electronic signature, and a secure electronic signature. The secure one must be tamperproof, according to definitions laid out in Canada’s Evidence Act. Modern document management solutions take account of these requirements.

CIOs thinking of incorporating electronic document signing into their business processes should design things carefully from the outset, though. “Existing systems in place are often designed to do batch processing,” warned Petrogiannis. “The batch process typically creates packaging in the print room that then gets FedExed to the relevant organizations.”

Moving to documents that are instantly sent and signed may require companies to rethink their processes, he warned. Customers signing and returning documents electronically may want a dynamic response. “Then, you have to service your customer 24×7,” he warned.

The electronic signature market has been dynamic in the last few years. Last October, Citrix acquired RightSignature, adding electronic document signing to its portfolio. A month earlier.Kofax purchased signature verification firm Softpro. Back in 2011, Adobe purchased Web-based e-signature firm EchoSign.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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