Document workflow vendor AirSlate acquires DocHub to grow automation
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Venture-backed document workflow vendor AirSlate is acquiring privately-held PDF editor and document signing platform DocHub in a deal announced today. Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.
The acquisition comes just over a month after AirSlate raised $51.5 million in a series C round of funding on June 16, giving the vendor a valuation of $1.25 billion. The company’s technology platform provides a series of no-code document workflows that benefit from robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) to help improve productivity.
DocHub provides an online platform integrated with Google Workspace that enables organizations to edit and sign PDF documents.
“DocHub actually fits in really nicely with our other automation offerings like no-code RPA,” Borya Shakhnovich, cofounder and CEO of AirSlate, told VentureBeat. “DocHub is the most widely used PDF editing and esignature solution on the Google Workspace marketplace and our customers will be able to take advantage of that capability once the integration is complete.”
The challenges and opportunities of workflow automation
The market opportunity for workflow automation and esignature tools is competitive.
Among the large vendors in the space is Adobe with its Adobe Sign capabilities, as well as DocuSign, which has been growing its business in recent years, including investments in AI software.
Shakhnovich noted that he absolutely sees DocuSign in competitive deals, though he doesn’t see Adobe nearly as often. The focus of AirSlate is more of the mid-market and helping companies with digital transformation efforts for document workflow, while still supporting an organization’s existing processes.
For example, while it might seem outdated to some, there are many organizations that still rely on fax technology for data transmission. To that end, AirSlate’s platform has existing integrations with fax providers both for inbound as well as for outbound faxes.
“We believe that business process automation and document workflow automation really succeed when the platform is flexible enough in order to cater to the customers and the way that they run their business,” Shakhnovich said. “Whether they want to fax these things or whether they want to send it on a carrier pigeon.”
While Shakhnovich admitted that carrier pigeon delivery is somewhat not likely, he noted that AirSlate does have integrations with physical mail carrier services for those that print and then actually mail notices as well.
The intersection of AI and document workflow automation
The technology for esignatures, replacing the need for humans to use pen and paper to sign a document, is not a new thing. Shakhnovich figures that esignatures have been available for enterprises for at least the last 14 years.
The first generation of esignature technology was just about getting users comfortable with signing documents online, but that’s not where AirSlate is today, or where it’s headed with DocHub.
“I think that where the industry is going is much more toward automation – and really data handling on top of documents – and that’s something that we’ve been focused on,” Shakhnovich said.
What AirSlate provides is the ability to automate the document workflow process rather than just complete and sign a document. Shakhnovich said that AirSlate, alongside DocHub and its integrations into the Google Workspace, can be empowered with the company’s no-code RPA bots. He explained that the RPA bots will allow for process automation to get the data from documents into other systems as part of a workflow process.
The AI-powered bots can also help an organization automate the process of data entry into different systems as the document workflow progresses. AI can help support decision-making on approvals, based on criteria that the AI bot recommends. Shakhnovich added that AI can also be used to help identify areas that could be problematic in a document, such as incomplete information or potential security violations.
“We’re really excited about AI and machine learning and the bots that we can create,” he said. “Some of the things that are examples of the use of AI are identification of specific kinds of documents and automatic tagging of those documents, based on the information that’s in the document.”
Looking forward, Shakhnovich said that AirSlate will continue to build out its platform, with new APIs (application programming interfaces) that will enable more extensibility and integration with other enterprise application platforms.
“We really want to be the data pipe inside of the company that allows people to identify the data that’s needed in order to interact with the customers, and then do all of the intelligence on that data before passing it on to a cloud storage system or customer relationship management system,” he said.
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