Women Love Tech Founder Robyn Foyster interviews Inhi Suh, the President of Product, Technology, and Operations of USD$10 billion company, DocuSign. In Australia, DocuSign is used by 68% of ASX listed organisations.
Inhi is also a TED speaker, former IBM Head of Global Strategic Partnerships and thought leader in the information management, big data and analytics space. Inhi is based in San Fransisco – the headquarters for DocuSign which was launched 20 years ago – and was recently in Sydney as part of DocuSign’s flagship annual customer event, Momentum 2023.
Inhi explains how DocuSign stays ahead of the curve when it comes to technological innovation and maintaining its market-leading position. She also talks about the launch of AI Labs and “intelligent agreements” and how these products aim to make businesses more productive and sustainable as well as simplifying the process for the consumers.
Robyn: Let’s talk about DocuSign. It was founded in 2003. The company is based in San Francisco. Effectively, it’s a global provider of cloud-based software with over a million customers, and more than a billion people have used DocuSign today.
Inhi: First of all, thank you for all of that, because I can also hear the joy and love that you have in using the product yourself as a customer. I think, let me just start there; it’s a loved brand. What makes DocuSign special, personally, I think, is that it is present in moments that are meaningful for people. People are grateful for the service because it doesn’t take away from the moment; it accelerates and supports that moment. That moment could be getting a loan for a house, offering a new job, purchasing a car, renting something, or even life moments like adopting a child or giving birth. It’s present at significant moments in both business and life, and it’s at the intersection of business to consumer as well as business to business. I think that is just a testament to the simplicity of the service. It’s easy to use and, for me, is a no-brainer. For those that have used it, it seems obvious, but in spite of that, there are still a lot of people on the planet that have not yet used it.
I was fortunate enough to be on the board of directors of DocuSign while I was working at IBM, and I was part of the board as it transitioned to going public. At the time, it was quite small, so it’s really grown at an accelerated rate over the last five years. During this time, we are now positioning it to do more than just e-signature; to handle multiple steps of the agreement process, including generating an agreement, negotiating an agreement digitally, and verifying an identity in a more modern way. Let’s say you have all of your agreements – can you search through them easily? It’s really hard to do. And then what if you wanted to search in a contract? Not just around all the contracts and across all the contracts. So, the opportunity to apply AI to this larger corpus to understand patterns and connections and accelerate businesses, industries and entire ecosystems was really exciting.
My responsibility is to lead our product and technology organisation, which also includes global customer support, product design, product management, engineering, our global ecosystem of partners, and all our chief information security office functions.
Robyn: And what is the split between consumers, your everyday person using it to get their new job, and so on?
Inhi: Great question! The majority of our customers are business payers. When we say we have 1.4 million paying customers, they are small and medium businesses. The consumer is often not the one actually paying for the service. The consumer is often the signer. So what we end up actually driving in terms of the way the service is purchased is the companies, both small and medium businesses and large corporations, are actually the customers. Then, they create the documents to send to the consumer. The majority of our revenue base is business.
Robyn: And it also makes businesses more efficient, doesn’t it? That’s part of the success. And you are celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary. How is the next decade going to look? What are the innovations that DocuSign is working on now?
Inhi: Well, I think some of the things such as applying generative AI to the world of agreements, which includes tasks like summarizing an agreement and extracting the most essential points from it. But there’s also the aspect of interacting with an agreement. Imagine having a conversation with an agreement, where you can ask questions like, “Can you explain this section in simpler terms?” or “What if I want to edit this section? Can you suggest a more straightforward change to the terms?” Another scenario to consider is when you’re in an enterprise with your own clause libraries. You can choose which clauses are standard and which are non-standard in an agreement you’re creating for a different party. Now, think about the world of identity and trust. Do you trust the parties you’re about to enter into an agreement with? We’re part of the next generation of identity verification. We’re working on a new offering that allows you to persist an ID in a digital wallet. This is a part of our roadmap. We’re also focusing on the next generation of out-of-the-box AI extractions that are faster. There’s a lot of innovation happening, and I’m excited to see the team accelerating the roadmap. We recently had our customer-facing momentum events, and we have more exciting developments coming up in the New Year.
Robyn: How did you celebrate your 20th anniversary?
Inhi: We had a party, a globally distributed celebration around the world. We have multiple locations. For the DocuSign party, we provided anniversary shirts, vests, swag for all our employees, along with cakes, cookies, and decorations. It’s been a lot of fun. One of the significant evolutions that needs to happen is not just in technology but also in policy and legislation by country, province, district, and region. This has been a barrier to the advancement of digital technology adoption, such as DocuSign. Different regions have varying regulatory standards for the types of documents that require electronic signatures and more advanced identity verification.
You can watch the first part of the interview with Inhi Suh on the importance of diversity here