Asia Tech Podcast was joined by Dan Bognar, the Group Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan at DocuSign.  We don’t need to explain what DocuSign is, right?  Anyway…
Some of the topics Dan covered:
  • Consulting for almost 10 years before joining the tech world
  • Taking measured career risks
  • Living at work, not working from home
  • Digitalization and never having to put ink on paper anymore
  • Blockchain’s evolution and more efficient ways to sign contracts
  • No-code, low-code in the enterprise
  • Surging demand during the pandemic
  • Working with startups and creating immersive experiences
  • Hybrid document signing
  • Demand for mobile and optimizing for it
Other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. You’re a Young Kid…You’ll Figure It Out
  2. I Had to Get Involved With All These Dot Coms
  3. We’re Not Afraid to Disrupt Ourselves
  4. We Want People to Agree From Anywhere
  5. Being Able to Do It From Anywhere Is Such a Beautiful Thing
This episode was produced by Isabelle Goh.

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:00
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Dan Bognar, the Group Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan at DocuSign. My tongue almost made it through that without just like spinning on itself. Anyway, Dan, thank you so much for doing this today. How are you?

Dan Bognar 0:39
I’m doing great, Michael, thanks for the opportunity to connect with you and your listeners. I’m excited to have a conversation with you today.

Michael Waitze 0:46
It is my pleasure. And before we get into the main part of this conversation, can we give our listeners a little bit of your background just for some context?

Dan Bognar 0:55
Yeah, absolutely. So look, I’ve got an interesting background in the sense that if you had asked me way back when, if I thought I’d end up leading an enterprise software company in the Asia Pacific region, it probably was the furthest thing from my mind, I actually thought I wanted to be an accountant. And which probably explains my magnetic personality, by the way, but I, I was quite fortunate, I got a cadetship when I left high school with a company called Price Waterhouse, which have subsequently become PWC. And they put me through university and I started working part time from the age of about 17 and a half nice. And I was there for about 10 years, which was great as a consultant until the.com. Boom happened. And I realized I needed to be a part of that. So I joined a startup at the time called Siebel systems, which was the pioneer of CRM, and had a had a great ride at Siebel, we ended up getting acquired by Oracle. And I had another 10 year stint doing that. And then I kind of got itchy feet again, and wanted to kind of see what the startup experience would be like in Silicon Valley. So I joined a AI startup in Silicon Valley for a couple of years. And did that move the family across to California, which was a great experience. And then a few years into that Salesforce came knocking and was looking for a leader back in Sydney, Australia, which is home. So I joined them as their SC leader across Asia PAC, and was at Salesforce with just under 10 years, and had a great run at Salesforce and joined Docusign. About a year ago, I think in two weeks time, it will be my first year anniversary at Docusign. So it’s been an incredible ride. And one I’m very, very grateful for the opportunity to lead the business in this region.

Michael Waitze 2:45
It’s so interesting. It’s just so can I kind of just back up for a little bit. Of course, of course, the idea of becoming an accountant, I It makes total sense to me, like my first job at Morgan Stanley was in what we call the controller’s department, it’s super important, I could not have learned more about business per se, ending up at a company like PWC. So Price Waterhouse Coopers this would be the big nine and it was the big four I can’t remember anymore, right. But this idea that your exposure to business as an accountant is so amazing. Like it’s one of these things that nobody tells you when you’re a kid, right? And you make fun of yourself this idea of like, Oh, that makes me really boring. Maybe maybe not though, right? Yeah, no.

Dan Bognar 3:24
Look, I think you’re right. I mean, honestly, Michael, I don’t think I ever really had a sense for what I was getting into. I joined because I thought it was a great opportunity to be a part of a firm like that. And I think that the opportunities that those type of consulting firms give young people is just incredible. Yes, I was kind of fortunate, because shortly after I started, and if I take your listeners back, so windows 3.1 had just been released. It was like, you know, the next operating system. And one of the senior partners came up to me, he literally gave me a box of discs. You know, what are they called the five and a half inch floppy disk or whatever they used to be quarter, five and a quarter they want yeah. And he said, right, and he said, Look, you’re young kid, you figure this out. And that’s literally how I got into it. And, you know, I started installing and at the time, they had like, one IBM 386 computer for the entire floor of professionals. And they had his little diary that used to fill out and book time to use his computer. And I just became the computer support guy once I kind of worked out how to lead these discs and off I went. So as I said, I wish I had the power of foresight. I’m not sure I did. It just I think sometimes your career is you take a step forward. You learn something, you challenge yourself. It opens up new opportunities, and then you take another step and I think that’s really what my career

Michael Waitze 4:49
has been. You know, Dan, it sounds so familiar to me. When I first got to Morgan Stanley in 1987. There was a computer room that had IBM XTS or 80s. In it. We have a five, five and a quarter inch floppy disk that was the boot disk. So without that disk, you couldn’t actually use the computer. And I’d kind of did the reverse. I said to my boss, you know, if I have one of these things on my desk, I think I can be like, 1000 times more productive. Right. And that changed my whole career. Because I could do things. I was what Greenspan was calling the productivity boom. Yes. Didn’t you know what I mean? Like, I didn’t know I was doing anything different. That’s just what I did at college. So for me, it was just normal, right? And it was just transformational for me anyway. What did you mean, when you said, like, all this.com stuff was happening, and you felt like you had to get involved? Like, what? What was that? Like?

Dan Bognar 5:38
Yeah, so it was interesting, because I, I, I remember the.com boom was happening. And it wasn’t so much the boom, that excited me, I think it was the power and the potential of the internet that really drew me in and, and I remember, kind of seeing seeing it evolve, and companies come to market with just a completely different way of doing business. Yeah. And so business models evolve, the technology evolved. And I saw it as so transformational. And I realized that I just, I just had to be a part of it. And, you know, it’s a bit of a risk, I think, in some respects, because I left PwC at the time, I was, you know, 12 months away from partnership. And I remember resigning with a senior partner who’d looked at me and said, you know, Bob, you’re crazy. But I just kind of felt like this. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something that was going to be so significant. Yeah. So yeah, no regrets at all. It’s been it’s been a great

Michael Waitze 6:39
ride. Were you familiar with the sausage software story?

Dan Bognar 6:42
Sausage software? Yeah. Remember the name?

Michael Waitze 6:46
So this is a very famous, I think, started in Melbourne. Yeah. Really early HTML editor company that started obviously, in Australia, but moved to Silicon Valley. The reason why I asked is because you kind of did the same thing, maybe a little bit later. But this idea of going from Australia to Silicon Valley became a thing. I was just wondering if you knew about that company, because I know that it inspired a bunch of other people to whom I’ve spoken. Just yet read story.

Dan Bognar 7:11
I certainly remember them. I think it was interesting. Actually, you make that point, Michael, because one of the things that I learned in the valley, even though I was only there for a short time, is failure is actually a really positive thing. It’s okay. And it’s more than okay, it’s actually valued. And I remember, you know, being introduced to a number of different, you know, either technology executives or VCs, and they would they would, they would ask, what, what’s your experience with failure? Yeah. And at the time, as an Australian, I found that really confronting, because because I think particularly in our region in Asia Pacific, it’s all about success. It’s all about saving face, we don’t talk a lot about failure. And what I realized, in a short time in the valley, that actually you learn more through failure than you do through success. And it’s actually okay. And so, you know, that’s one of the one of the big cultural differences I observed in my time there.

Michael Waitze 8:09
Yeah. And I was gonna ask you, what are the things that you can take from previous experience into new companies? And I think that is actually one of the most important things. Yeah. And, and I feel strange talking about this, right? Because I had this corporate career that lasted until I was like, 46 or 47 years old. And I, you know, there’s no room for failure, Goldman Sachs. You and I was in Japan? At the time, too, right? Yeah. I mean, it was really interesting. So this concept of saving face, like we’re always winning, we’re always succeeding, I get it. But I didn’t realize until later that like, the only way to learn something is to try it and actually to fail. Because if you’re always winning, what are you learning? You’re not learning anything? No.

Dan Bognar 8:50
100%, and it is something that I’ve kind of brought a lot into leadership, because, you know, one of the things that, for example, we will do is we’ll actually do what we call loss reviews. Because often we don’t we you know, we celebrate the success, we don’t really stop to go well hang on. What Why did we lose that one? Why did the customer choose an alternative? And I think it’s very easy when you see to success to think that you’re you’re just on top of your game. And I think it’s through those losses and through failure, that you actually have that introspection to say, Okay, well as an organization, what, what can we learn from this? What can we take away? It’s not a finger pointing exercise. It’s not it’s not trying to hold anyone accountable unnecessarily. It’s about let’s make sure we learn from this so that we can improve ourselves and the next time we have a different outcome.

Michael Waitze 9:39
If you looked at the 17 year old Dan, yes, would you have considered that young man a risk taker, and even if you had, as you move into today, with all the stuff that you’ve learned by working and failing a little bit and then learning and doing more, would you consider yourself more of a risk taker today? And if you do, do you then look at others and try I’d like to figure out who’s comfortable taking that risk, which also means comfortable failing at some level?

Dan Bognar 10:06
Yes. Look, I think it’s an interesting question you’ve asked Michael, I’m going to answer in a way, which hopefully gives you the sense that that I feel confident in my ability, I don’t want to come across as being arrogant, because it’s not my intention. But I guess at several stages in my career, I have deliberately taken a step backwards, in order to move forwards. And what I mean by that is, you know, I went from, like, PwC, I went from a senior director, 12 months away from partnership, to all of a sudden joining a startup called Siebel, as an individual contributor. In a space I knew nothing about and I took a big cut in pay, and I lost my corner office and all of those kinds of things. But But I did that, knowing that the experience was going to challenge me. And in the long run, I was confident in my ability to prove myself and catch up in the hierarchy, so to speak. And I’ve done that two or three times in my career. So am I prepared to take a risk? i The answer is yes. But in my mind, it’s always been a very measured risk, because I’ve always felt that in the long run, I was confident that I would get back to where I was.

Michael Waitze 11:16
Yeah. And I was having this conversation with somebody yesterday, this idea of risk taking meaning jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. Yes. It’s just it’s a misnomer, right? I mean, I think all great risks are calculated risks. If I do this, here are the four potential outcomes, three of them are completely unlikely. And because the one that I want is likely, I’m going to take that risk, if it’s reversed, you’re not going to do it. Right.

Dan Bognar 11:40
Yes, 100% 100%. And look, I also understand having lived through it a couple of times, it definitely becomes harder to make those decisions as your personal circumstances change. You know, I knew as you know, once I became a husband and a father that it was, it was not just my risk, it was the rest of the family. So that that definitely changes things. But I think, you know, the one advice I always give to people in their careers is don’t be afraid to take a step backwards to move forward. If you end up in a better place, and you challenge yourself, and you’ve learned something, and even if you have to reinvent yourself, that’s a really positive thing. For sure,

Michael Waitze 12:19
for sure. And look, there have been a ton of unbelievable challenges that we’ve faced over the past. What is it now two and a half years? I mean, I can’t even guess, do you feel like do you feel like you’ve lost a sense of time a little bit? Do you know what I mean? Where you think about completely? Well, that was March 2000. Something I don’t remember when kind of thing, you know what I mean?

Dan Bognar 12:39
100%. In fact, I always laugh with my assistant, Michelle, because she was my sister at Salesforce before joining me in Docusign. And when when the pandemic started, and we left Salesforce, the office to go home, I said to her, Oh, look, I’ll see you in two weeks time. Because in my mind, that was how long the pandemic was going to go for this single blow over in two weeks. And here we are, like two and a half years later. And, uh, you know, we’re still living through it. So absolutely, it’s been a blur. But But I think, I think, you know, in many respects, I think there’s been a lot of positives that have come out of it. You know, I think that one of the things that really excites me is this, this world, we’re living in this real work from anywhere world we’re living in at the moment. Because, you know, I think what, what we’ve seen is this opportunity for us to be able to work, both from home, but also in the office. And, you know, what, what I’m sensing as we talk to people, and certainly our employees across the region is what what they’re saying to us is, they want to work maybe one or two days a week in the office. Yeah. And they want to do that, because they want to collaborate and they want to connect, but when they want to be productive, as in, you know, produce something, they’ll be at home. And I think that it’s been great to go through that transition, because I remember in the early days of the pandemic used to get on the call, and you know, you’d still be in a button down shirt. And, and people would apologize for, you know, the dog or the kids in the background. And now it’s like, We’ve just lost all of those predictors. Because, right, we don’t care. We know that. We’re actually not working from home. I love the expression that we’re living at work. That’s actually what we’re doing. And so we’ve kind of, you know, we’ve lost those pretenses. And I think that’s a really positive thing. I think it’s been a great level of for people.

Michael Waitze 14:27
Yeah, I mean, look, I always say it’s not a podcast unless there’s a dog barking in the background or a baby. But it’s a slightly different thing. So if we’re living at work, right, yes. And I want to go way back to when I first because I had this transition from being in the controller’s department, which we talked about, to sitting on a trading desk at Morgan Stanley. Yes. And I did this on purpose. The interim piece for me was working in a tech team because I figured out that the more I knew about technology, the better trader I would be, the better salesperson I would be. And one of the things So what we did was we started installing workstations, so Unix workstations at home and I had 260 4k ISDN sockets at home. And I could watch the trading systems. From there. I had two big Sony 27 inch monitors whatever they were, and arribar sitting in my home just going, this is the future. Yeah, I didn’t anticipate the pandemic, for sure. But I just remember sitting there going, I don’t have to be at work now to look at all this stuff. Absolutely. 20 something years later, it could be more actually. Here we are. I’ve got you know, Gigabit Ethernet. And you have no idea where I am. And I have no idea where you are either, right?

Dan Bognar 15:36
No, exactly. Exactly. And I think I think we all have those moments, those really profound moments like what you had Michael, I think, for me, it was, I remember, in my early career at PwC, I met this accountant, he was a customer. And I was at I was actually at his office to install some software on his computer to help him with his accounting and tax information. And as I was describing to him, what was going on, he looked at me and he said, Dan, I’ll tell you what the problem is with people like you. He said, I’m an accountant. I speak in a certain way. And I understand things in a certain way. And you’re a technologist, and you understand what you say, and you speak in a certain way. And he looked at me and he said, find me somebody that can translate what I need. And talk to me in a way that shows me you understand, that’s the person I want to speak to. Yeah. And I really thought about that. And I think that, I think for a lot of people that can transition that business focus and technology understanding and really articulate both a technical depth as well as at a business value depth is really important.

Michael Waitze 16:43
Yeah. And look, I think a lot of the stuff that’s changed to make those things possible. Right is to me living at work or working from home, however you want to look at this. There’s all this talk, right? So I do this entire podcast called The Asia InsurTech podcast, and a lot of the insurance incumbents and a lot of the guys and gals that are building in shoretex, tell me that in the insurance industry, five years, this is their words, right of digital transformation has taken place in a year, essentially, right. But if I look at where you are at Docusign. This company, I don’t know when I don’t remember when it was founded. But this idea of the digitalization of documents, so that you never have to put ink on paper was an innovation that happened, what 15 years ago? I mean, help me out here. I don’t remember.

Dan Bognar 17:33
No, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that’s what’s been the most interesting aspect of the last couple of years is out of necessity, people have gravitated towards Docusign. Because the reality was, there was no other way of doing business when you’re trying to do it remotely. Also, you know, the guy, right? Oh, absolutely. Right. And I think what it did is it unlocked an enormous amount of potential. And I think what people realized is that fear that they had, looking into that possibility was was largely unfounded, right and out of necessity, they had to live with it. And what we found is actually, there’s no going back. Because once once you see the benefit of the technology, and you realize this thing is faster, it’s better. It’s more secure, it’s cheaper, and it’s better on the planet. It’s like, Well, why would we go back to pen and paper?

Michael Waitze 18:29
To me, it’s like, again, I don’t know how old you are. But I remember when we got my dad borrowed his buddy’s car, okay. And his his body was like, much wealthier than we were as kids. And it had automatic windows, which seemed like a gift from heaven. You just press the button window went out, you know, the international symbol for please open your window. And traffic is just still doing this. Yeah. Yes. You understand what I mean? Right? Nobody goes like, can you open? Can you open your window? No one, what are you pointing at? It doesn’t mean anything. But the point is that I remember saying to my dad back then, and I was pretty young, you know, once you have these windows that open automatically can’t go back to rolling them. Can you

Dan Bognar 19:07
know exactly, exactly. And I think for me, Michael, that was part of the attraction in Docusign. Because I really saw the vision of DocuSign is really unparalleled in many respects. Because you’re right, it DocuSign has been an agitator and created the electronic signature market. But the vision of the company is to completely digitize the end to end agreement cycle, everything from how you prepare and Redline and negotiate a contract all the way through to signing it, managing it and acting on it. And what’s interesting, if you look at what we’ve done, we’ve basically built an industry out of really digitizing paper. Yeah, I think what’s exciting is the technology, particularly AI and blockchain and some of these other technologies, how do we really reimagine what an agreement looks like? Because if they agree image is not just digital paper, but it has smarts, right? If it can monitor itself, if it can escalate risk if it can highlight areas of concern, if it can monitor performance SLAs. That’s really interesting. You know, I think that there’s very few companies like DocuSign that has that clarity of vision and the appetite to invest in it.

Michael Waitze 20:21
So is there a transformation at DocuSign itself, and companies like this, right, that are trying to just take because I feel like we’re in the early innings here, even though DocuSign is a company, it’s been around for a while, I feel like we’re in super early innings, if you can transform a company like this, onto Aetherium, right? And that every document that gets written is not just signed, but it’s also like an Aetherium smart contract. So in a way, it’s parametric, right? If this happens, I’ve already signed it. So we both agree, we’ve signed it digitally. And actually, we can back up a little bit. Because, you know, I’m an individual proprietor, right. So I run a small and medium sized businesses, and the thing I hate the most, and I mean this because it’s, it’s the thing that keeps me up at night is, oh, God, I gotta write that contract. Right? I really do. And I get yelled at for this, where’s my cut? Like, people want to do business? Where’s that contract? I’m like, Okay, tomorrow, do you really mean, but the execution of that contract, then did something really simple? Like just send out an invoice, which was already predetermined based on some kind of performance? Well, then my life is a billion times easier. When is that coming?

Dan Bognar 21:26
Well, that’s not too far away. And I think that’s the exciting part of it. And I think that, you know, for me, that was part of the motivator in joining DocuSign is to be a part of that transformation. Because what we’re seeing is the these technologies are converging in a way that we can really reimagine what an agreement looks like. And, you know, I think one of the things about DocuSign that I really value is that we’re not afraid to disrupt ourselves, so that we can reinvent the whole notion of an agreement. So it is incredibly exciting. You know, I think as much as, as much as it’s exciting, I think, you know, between you and me, and what I would say to you is, it’s also a little bit of a challenge for us. Yes, the brand value is, is tied up in DocuSign, the electronic signature company, and and that’s really positive, but it can also be an obstacle for us, because we’ve got to reset expectations of, you know, who we are and what we want to be and but, you know, again, that’s a great opportunity for us.

Michael Waitze 22:25
Yeah, that’s a high quality problem. I mean, look, Dell did it right, when they changed their name from Dell computer to just Dell it did it when they changed their name from Apple Computer to just Apple like, you know, we do but we’re going to be doing other things. So we’re going to change our name to reflect that fact. But But here’s, here’s the thing, right? I wonder from a document creation side, and luckily, in a way for DocuSign, Docu is in the name, so people associated with documents anyway, you know what I mean? It’s not called electronic sign. So good. Good on you guys for that. But there must be some kind of data story here as well. People are signing documents on the DocuSign platform, it hasn’t changed a lot in the past 10 or so years since I’ve been introduced to it. But there must be some way, even in an anonymized way for DocuSign, or companies like this to gather data so you can understand the types of documents that people are creating, and then create hundreds of potential templates so that I don’t have to recreate the wheel every time I want to create a document, is there a data play here as well.

Dan Bognar 23:28
Other reason, and that’s the that’s very much the data and AI aspects that we’re investing in. And I think what’s what’s exciting about it, if I should give you a couple of examples, so we can take an agreement. And we can review that agreement through the AI. And what the AI will do is, it will do an initial scan of that document and all of the momentum of that document and highlight for the lawyers. Here are the specific clauses in this document, which we think you should focus on, because it sits outside of previous agreements that the company has had. So don’t waste your time looking at the entire thing. Just look at these three or four clauses. And oh, by the way, here is where we’ve done it in the past. And this is kind of the tolerance that we have for agreeing to clauses like this. So that’s a great example. You know, the other thing that the AI can surface, it can look back at the history of the agreements, and give you insights on it. So you can actually understand your exposure, you can understand your risk, you can understand your service levels, across a whole portfolio of agreements. Because often what happens is, you know, to your point, we sign an agreement, we spent all this time negotiating and redlining and an agreement, and then we stick it in the bottom drawer and we forget about it. And no one’s really monitoring, are we meeting the obligations or what have you, and so the AI really becomes the conduit for that. And this is this is real today. It’s you know, there are companies implementing this

Michael Waitze 24:55
and this gets back to the smart contract thing for me too, as well. So the Aetherium platform, if I have a contract with you, that’s dependent on certain things happening, right? So it’s parametric at some level, I should also be able to measure and track as the contract D contract, or I can’t, I don’t know what the ROI is, how many times that that actually gets executed over time. And when it gets executed, right, so to know, like, how often all these things are happening, so that I can get access to that data, and then maybe better plan my business as well. Right. So it’s more than just how to create the document, but getting business insights as well, for how frequently or infrequently the things that I thought were gonna happen. did happen.

Dan Bognar 25:36
Does that actually happen? Yeah, no, absolutely. Absolutely. And really, when you think about it, what you’re talking about there is, you know, very strong workflow capability. That’s, that’s monitoring the workflow. And really tallying, or counting how, how often these things are happening, and then exposing that, so you can understand it, and that that’s exactly the capabilities we’re talking about. If we’re

Michael Waitze 26:00
really working from anywhere, or living at work, right? What is the role you see? How can I say this properly? Look, everybody wants to have their software on an iPad, basically, right? Or iPhone, you have an iPhone 13, pro max plus whatever it’s, you know, it’s pretty big, 6.7 inches, right? It’s not an iPad, but close enough. A lot of people can use that. How do we optimize all of these things for mobile devices to make it easier, right? Because I’m sitting at home saying, Do I buy a MacBook Air? Do I buy an iPad Pro? What am I going to do to use this? But do I need a keyboard just because I’m old? Or do I need a keyboard? Because I really need to type stuff out? Like how do we optimize for mobile? Do you think about this as well?

Dan Bognar 26:45
Look, we think a lot about it. And I think what’s interesting is that, you know, mobile was was definitely something we thought probably even more so pre pandemic, because everybody was mobile. Today, we’re probably less mobile than we weren’t around, because we’re sitting at home. And, you know, we use our desktop more than we are using our mobile. But I think that what we think a lot about and DocuSign is that we want people to agree from anywhere, literally agree from anywhere. And I heard a great story, the other day that I’ll share with you from one of our customers tell me the story. It’s 100% True story. This particular lady was negotiating on a residential home that she was wanting to buy, okay. And what she found is, is that the agent that she was negotiating with was playing her off against another prospective buyer. And she rang the agent and said, Look, I’m not I’m not playing this game, I want to buy the property, I’m ready to sign. If you send me a DocuSign of the contract, I will sign this thing now. And I’ll transfer the my deposit into your account today. Now, she was actually standing at a concert in Sydney, that was 10 minutes away from starting. And the agent Sure enough jet generated a contract Senator on Docusign. She looked at it on her phone, she signed it transferred the money across and we exchanged contracts. And I think that’s an example of what we mean by being able to agree from anywhere. It’s just you know, on your phone, wherever you are. Let’s let’s look at it.

Michael Waitze 28:15
Yeah, I mean, I’ll share my own story. Have you been to Bangkok? Many times, so

Dan Bognar 28:20
you’ve written the BLTs? Yeah, yes, yes. Yes, the skytrain

Michael Waitze 28:23
SkyTrain. Yeah, so I’m on the skytrain. This is just a few days ago, and I have my phone, my phone is not a 13 max plus, it’s an iPhone SE I can see it. But I do a lot of business on it. And somebody actually sent me like an agreed contract on the phone. Right. And I remember being on the BTS. It’s crowded, but not as crowded as used to be. And I remember going like this. Yeah. Like that. Yeah. And it felt weird, because I would do that in my office. But like, people looked at me, like, what is that guy doing? And there’s no way to like, hold up a sign going. Just gotta you know what I mean. There’s no way to do that. But that’s what it was. And that was signing from anywhere. Yeah, absolutely. And that was kind of, and I

Dan Bognar 29:00
think, I think No, exactly. And that’s, that’s how we think about it. Because you know, every agreement that somebody signs in this lady’s case, it was her home, right? It could be a job offer you get it could be, you know, the lease of a building, it could be a car that you you’re doing some financing on. These are human moments of connection. Absolutely. Right. That personal moments, and so being able to do that electronically, and literally from anywhere, is just it’s such a beautiful thing.

Michael Waitze 29:29
Yeah, and I mean, you could be signing adoption papers, you know what I mean? And if you’re doing that, when you’re sitting on a train, it’s just transformational for your life. It’s just this really powerful moment anyway. Yeah. Do you think about no code and low code solutions to document creation as well? Do you know what I mean?

Dan Bognar 29:49
We think a lot about that. Part of what we’ve what we’ve give a lot of thought to Michael is particularly around how do we capture the necessary information to fit into a document. So I’ll give you a really simple example. If you’re if you’re a lender, you might be a financial institution and you’re doing, you know, consumer loans, or it might be business loans or what have you. You need to capture a lot of information to be able to put into that contract. And typically, the way most financial firms do this today, is they give you a form online and say, Can you fill this out? And it’s not intuitive, and it doesn’t have any guidance to it. And it’s not conditional, meaning that if I start an answer these questions a certain way, then it branches somewhere else. It’s literally it’s, it’s a digitized form. Yeah. And so what we’ve been able to do through our forms, product is we’ve we’ve basically created a way for organizations to have a guided experience for their customers to capture whatever input they need to feed into the contract. But to do it in a way, which doesn’t require any coding. So an administrator or a business analyst can put together those questions and the flow, you know, you literally using drag and drop and some branches, and so forth, without having to get into programmatic code, and you can deploy that then on a phone or in a browser or whatever it might be. And the impact that then has on the customer experience is really positive.

Michael Waitze 31:22
It’s massive, we jumped at the beginning of this conversation, or at least I joked a little bit about the title, right? Asia Pacific, and Japan, it’s a big region. And I think sometimes from the outside people that aren’t as familiar with the region, as you are, or as I am, would say, Asia, a monolithic place with a few billion people in it, yet, you can chuckle harder actually. Yeah. Because even in Southeast Asia, in the countries where I do most of my business, there’s, you know, Indonesia, bears no resemblance to Singapore, at some level, and not just languages, right. There’s cultural differences and custom differences and all these things. How does that play into what must have been an explosion during the pandemic, of the necessity for a product suite? Like Docusign? Has? That has to be that has to change for different reasons, in different places in a way that’s really subtle and nuanced? Yeah.

Dan Bognar 32:20
Yeah, look, absolutely. And I think I think you you’re spot on in your in your question, Michael, because Asia is not one thing? No, it’s many, many different things. We saw that a lot, just in terms of the pace at which digital transformation took place across the region. You know, the the country that I think a lot about is actually Japan, the reason I say that is because Japan has has definitely not progressed as quickly, as we’ve seen the rest of the Asia Pacific region, you know, it’s still very much a paper based stamp, or they call it the hankow. environment. And the opportunity we have is to really transform the way business gets done in Japan. And, you know, I think our employees in Japan, really, they see that their role is being able to truly transform Japan culturally, by getting paper eliminated, and getting to digital agreements and digital signings. So that’s a great example. But I think, you know, to your question, what we seeing is different standards are emerging across the region at different paces. And so what we definitely are seeing is, and apologies, I’m going to kind of take you on a slight tangent for a moment, but we distinguish between what we call electronic signature and digital signature, an electronic signature is just simply just saying, Hey, I’m Dan Wagner, and I’m signing this document. And it’s, it’s pretty straightforward. And it’s, it’s very similar to signing on paper, it’s just as you’re signing on the glass, as opposed to paper, a digital signature has intelligence in it, and it has a certificate that gets issued that says, Dan Wagner is who He says He is. And that certificate gets issued by a registered certificate provider. And what we’re seeing across the region is that different economies are different jobs, different countries are moving at different paces. So Korea is a great example is a country that is really embracing this idea of digital certificates, less so in other parts of the industry. So our job at DocuSign is how do we look across the region and understand at which pace the different markets are moving, so that we can prioritize the investment that we make to meet the needs of that customer. And, you know, it can be challenging, but just because of the different pace and different maturity.

Michael Waitze 34:45
Well, I mean, I can see a world in which Japanese Hong Kong never goes away. Right. But where someone takes that huncle, registers it on a blockchain right, and then uses that blockchain to create a certificate that then stands as that digital certificate for their digital signature. Does that make sense?

Dan Bognar 35:03
It makes perfect sense. And we are seeing some of that evolve already. That’s kind of cool. It’s very cool. It’s very cool. In fact that, you know, there are some markets like in India, for example, where you actually need to print the contract on a physical bit of paper that gets issued by the government because you pay tax associated with the bits of paper. So what you can do now is you can, you can actually do that digitally. So you can purchase the paper and you can sign the paper and you can certify that everything is valid. And go through that entire experience, even though it’s digital. And it’s it’s exciting to see how that transforms.

Michael Waitze 35:42
I think it’s neat that this guy that said, I need to be part of the startup, knows how many years ago, is still doing this DocuSign find a way to work with startups as well. I’m thinking about a company called checkbox run by Ivan Wong. Yeah, Australia, is there a way to work with them to for some of the stuff that they’re doing in the document creation and the artificial intelligence and stuff like that? You know what I mean? Oh, absolutely.

Dan Bognar 36:05
In fact, it’s a really important part of our strategy. And particularly, so in this region, which we’re talking about, we do a lot of work with partners, where we integrate DocuSign with their technology. And what’s exciting about that, Michael, is that, you know, for companies or employees that use a multitude of these different technologies, they converge very seamlessly, meaning that you can actually embed DocuSign in the user experience of a Salesforce or a Slack or workday, or whatever it might be. So the end user doesn’t even know they’re using Docusign. It’s just embedded in that experience. But the other aspect of it is that, you know, that those those partnerships we have and the integrations we provide a really unparalleled, we have close to 400 different types of integrations with different technology companies that we provide. And and the reason for that is because the agreement in every industry has different touch points and different systems that needs to integrate with. And so that’s really where the value is, is how you align all of those things together. And so Increasingly, our focus is how do we grow the number of partnerships, we have to reduce the complexity for the customer. So

Michael Waitze 37:20
this is one of the things that I wanted to ask you about. And maybe I’ll let you go after this. You know, Salesforce is a really unique company, I want to go back to that just for a second. And we talked about, you know, leaving to take a step back or for growth or for risk and stuff like that. But I don’t think you left Salesforce to take a step backwards. And I don’t think you left it because you thought DocuSign was going to be a safe sort of slow growth company. What does growth look like to you in a world that has been completely turned upside down? Not just by COVID. But by all this digital transformation that’s taking place across industry? What does that growth look like to you going forward?

Dan Bognar 37:59
Yeah, that’s that’s a great question, Michael, it was a really difficult transition, to be honest with you, you know, Salesforce was I learned a lot at Salesforce. And it was, you know, a great vehicle for me to develop my leadership skills and my understanding of technology. And, you know, I grew enormously through that. So certainly not easy. I think what drew me to DocuSign ultimately, is just like Salesforce, did, you know, when I joined Salesforce, you know, 10 years ago, the only product that Salesforce had at the time was what they what we call salesforce automation. Today, they call it Sales Cloud. And I remember going to customers and saying, Hey, we want to talk to you about service. And they’re like, service, you guys, you just do salesforce automation, what do you mean, and then you wanted to talk them about marketing, and you want to talk to him about platform. And it feels very similar to me this conversation at Docusign. Because in some respects, we’re trying to get out of the Salesforce automation business or the electronic signature business and become so much more. So. So that’s that’s where the parallels come into it. When we think about growth, this is this is the fastest growing region for Docusign. And, you know, I think the trajectory that we’re on here and the investments we’re making in this region are going to really hold us in great stead to capture that growth opportunity. You know, and I think that as we start looking across Asia Pacific and Japan, just given given the sheer size of it, and the complexity and the different maturity levels, it’s going to be a really exciting several years ahead of us, one that I’m entirely grateful for each and every day.

Michael Waitze 39:38
I think that’s a great way to end Dan, Dan Bognar, the Group Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan at DocuSign, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.

Dan Bognar 39:49
Absolutely. A pleasure talking to you. Thanks for the opportunity, Michael.

 

Follow Michael Waitze and the Asia Tech Podcast here:

Facebook – Michael Waitze

Facebook – Asia Tech Podcast

LinkedIn – Michael Waitze

Twitter – Michael Waitze