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Adapting to Distance: How Digital Solutions are Creating a Path Forward for Traditional Industries

The pandemic has changed everything – in small, invisible ways and in big, obvious, and often dramatic shifts. “It is not business as usual. People are rushing to find solutions, and people who were procrastinating are committed to changing,” explained Patrick Drolet, VP, Operations and Product Strategy, Notarius

Traditional sectors, like the legal sector, banking, education, and government, are particularly impacted by requirements to stay physically distant. As organizations that are heavily reliant on paper documents, witnesses, and face-to-face meetings, working in a new digital and decentralized format can present challenges. 

“What has amazed me is the variety of people who want to go digital,” Marc St-Jacques, VP, Sales and Marketing at Notarius said. “Everything from government to industry, health, [and] universities.”

Making the transition to digital isn’t always straightforward. For many of these secure, highly sensitive industries, a foundation of strong, trusted, and protected digital identity is necessary to continue operating. As individuals and businesses shift their focus and, in some cases, scramble to quickly adapt, a delta is opening up between those who were already moving towards digital transformation – and those who were dragging their feet. 

“It is not business as usual. People are rushing to find solutions, and people who were procrastinating are committed to changing.”

“On the one hand, individuals forced into digital are going now. It also illustrates the disparity between approaches. The shift has made everyone stand out,” St-Jacques explained. Whether it’s because they’re practiced in offering digital solutions or because they’ve been holding off, St-Jacques says it’s easy to see how different businesses operate. 

The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework, can help close the gap between early adopters and laggards, and ensure everyone has a clear path to operating in an increasingly digital-first world. 

For Notarius, there are two product lines that have been in high-demand in the wake of COVID-19. The traditional “old fashioned identity” that is consistently a big part of their business, and renewed interest in the document part. Secure, remote digital signatures and document execution are presenting a lot of opportunities for their clients to move forward. At the onset of the pandemic, they offered 60-day free trials and special offers, helping make the transition even easier for clients.

Witnessing the Shift in Industries

The industries who are showing the most interest are traditional sectors that may have been slow to adopt and adapt to digital technologies. “We are seeing a lot of appetite from the government. It is refreshing to see, as [the sector] has been slow to adopt. The biggest uptake, though, is in the university marketplace, both inside and outside of Quebec. They have moved quickly,” St-Jacques said.

“In many instances, organizations were held back by a department or two,” St-Jacques explained. “Legal departments were often the roadblock.” Those departments, including IT and government sectors, are now transforming rapidly to keep up.

The change is not – and cannot – only happen at the organizational level, though. From provincial to federal governments, the pandemic is accelerating change. “There is a long list of laws that were not ID-friendly. Government used to be so slow. They are moving now, which is super exciting,” Drolet said. 

One example is the notary bar in Quebec, a completely paper-based line of work. Although digital transformation was under consideration for the past four or five years, in the COVID-19 era, it took just three weeks for a temporary law to be passed so notaries can work in a digital format. 

Across the board, attitudes are changing and, in many cases, charting a digital path forward is no longer an option – it’s necessary for survival. The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework ensures businesses from all industries will be able to interact seamlessly with government and other industries, creating more efficiencies and helping all Canadian industries meet a baseline for privacy, security and usability. 

Digital ID Helps Maintain Connections Across Closed Borders

In a highly connected, global environment, these tools offer more options to continue connecting internationally. “Foreign students need their transcripts, they want to do their exams. Transcripts are like the identity of organizations,” St-Jacques explained, connecting the trends in education to other sectors. 

Through Notarius, these identifying documents are connected with a digital signature that it is clear and immediate, appealing to teams around the world. “We’re seeing requests from Europe, Asia, and the US,” St-Jacques shared. 

“For the international part, we are the only one recognized by Adobe. We were the only platform certified with EIDAS, with the highest standards,” Drolet explained.

Looking Ahead as Old Barriers Come Down

While the situation has not been ideal for anyone, the speed with which many have had to respond to this serious outbreak has led to some positive changes. “Usually it would be a structured and siloed process. Now, everyone is scrambling and can take initiative,” Drolet shared. “They see the value and what used to take weeks, now takes 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the pandemic was the driver.” 

So, what does the future look like?

For digital identity, Drolet predicts a surge in interest and adoption. “Who are your competitors in the ID space? The bad guy used to be the pen, now even that guy is going away,” he said.   

For industries, St-Jacques envisions lasting change. “I really don’t see people going back,” St-Jacques predicts. Old concerns about security, processes, and reluctance to change are being dissolved, as the rapid changes set precedent for what’s possible.

No matter what comes to pass, digital identity will be an important lever for success. Join Canada’s digital identity ecosystem to be a part of leading the change.
The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework ensures privacy, security, and accessibility remain features of our economy as all industries face a global push to go digital. Learn more about how DIACC is aligning organizations across industries, sectors, and Canada toward digital transformation.