As anticipated, DocuSign has today launched DocuSign Analyzer, its NLP-powered contract review solution designed for incoming agreements, and based on Seal Software which it bought earlier this year. But, the bigger story is that the e-signature company is on the long-term path to producing what you could call ‘consumer grade’ doc review that anyone with a contract could use.
Clearly they are not there yet, and Analyser (AKA Seal’s Insight contract review capability repackaged) is not going to be a simple plug and play for just anyone in the world who happens to want to do an e-signature and also then wants to get a risk profile of an incoming contract. It will remain – for now – the larger corporates that will use it, as Jim Wagner, formerly with Seal and now VP Agreement Cloud Strategy at DocuSign, explained to Artificial Lawyer.
As an extension of DocuSign Insight, Analyzer streamlines the process of reviewing and negotiating agreements when companies first receive them. It uses NLP to provide legal, sales, procurement and other parts of a business with insights into the risks in the documents, the $0.97 billion revenue company explained.
And this is a great step, albeit one that was 100% expected. After all, this is why DocuSign bought Seal.
But, the real prize in the future will be to take this to the point where everyone who finds themselves with a contract can run it through an Analyzer-type filter as part of DocuSign’s suite of applications and get the same useful results, such as: maybe don’t sign that apartment lease because of the terms in paragraph six about the landlord’s rights to evict; or maybe don’t sign that freelancer’s agreement because of the bit on the last page about how they co-own copyright of any content they produce.
Plus, it’s worth saying that ‘consumer grade’ is the highest accolade, as it means people with no tech training or legal skills can use the application with the near total reassurance it will work as expected – and they will also easily be able to make use of its output.
But, is Artificial Lawyer getting carried away here? Or is this something DocuSign could one day achieve? After all, DocuSign isn’t just for the Fortune 500, it’s hoping to reach everyone who engages with contracts of any type at all – and that means hundreds of millions of potential customers globally.
‘The vision is a consumer grade product,’ explained Wagner. ‘But we have only been here since May.’
‘Our engineers are working everyday with DocuSign [and] we do want to achieve this goal of a consumer grade experience,’ he added.
Of course, that would be a massive piece of work, potentially many times more massive than what they have achieved already, which is to build NLP models that can handle most mainstream commercial contracts that big companies use with a high level of accuracy: that can identify key clauses, compare them to what is in a company’s playbook, show the risk level from High, Medium, to Low, and also suggest improved contract language as a response.
‘We’ve built out massive collections of models that address most common contracts,’ Wagner noted.
But, to get to consumer grade it would have to cover a far wider reach still and cover a potentially far greater variety of wording that might appear in more DIY contracts generated by SMEs or individuals. But, it can be done.
Is there a timeline for reaching this point? Wagner said, no, there is no timeline yet. But, to conclude, do they want to do it? Yes.
As noted, we are a long way from that, yet this has to be the end goal, just as e-signatures are for everyone on the planet with a digital device connected to the internet who ever needs to sign something.
Moreover, if we finally get to that consumer level point then the NLP doc review market will really change forever, perhaps with other very large consumer-focused companies coming into the sector to take market share.
In fact, if DocuSign got even close to that point one could see a company such as Google, which is always looking to build out its Google Docs functionalities, buying out DocuSign to create what would be a tremendous integrated platform for doc creation, sharing and review. But, we are not there yet. That said, this is not an impossible future either.