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A Sign of the Times

13 April 2010

A small but powerful device developed by Swiss Post Solutions and the Swiss government and due to be launched in the UK later this year, will revolutionise signing off documents electronically and securely, as David Dorling explains

BUSINESS IS INCREASINGLY HAPPENING on the move, be it staff working from home, having no fixed office location or travelling locally or overseas in response to the demands on the business. But while that delivers nimble and responsive action from companies, it also raises significant challenges around data security and how to ensure that a valuable company asset its information – is adequately protected. The SwissStick from Swiss Post Solutions is the answer – a simple and mobile all-in-one solution that enables sensitive business processes to be carried out anywhere and at any time.
The document management processes of companies reflect the complexity of their day-today operations. In the AIIM Electronic Records Management Industry Watch it stated that 56 percent of companies are still seeing a steady  increase in their paper volumes and 70 percent of companies are seeing the volume of their electronic records increasing rapidly.
The SwissStick is an evolution in how an individual, when mobile, can continue to receive, send, exchange and action information in a secure mode.
The challenge for outsource service providers, such as Swiss Post Solutions, is to develop solutions that enable our clients to transform their business processes, achieve their legal and compliance requirements, provide their staff with tools to increase their efficiency, and support their environmental initiatives by reducing the use of paper in the business.
Swiss Post Solutions has a history of developing innovative solutions for mail and document services across the document lifecycle, from tracking mail, to managing paper and electronic archives and more recently by a providing an integrated solution that allows companies to transform their information processes across business unit and geographic boundaries. The SwissStick is the latest innovation. From the outside, it is just a humble USB stick, but from the inside a device that plugs into any computer and manages the user’s digital identity, offers digital signature software, and allows for secure and verifiable electronic communication.
Until now, solutions concerning digital signatures as well as secure electronic communication have been rather complicated and therefore not user-friendly at all. The SwissStick, by contrast, is an installation-free device - you just plug it in - that integrates all the components a mobile business person requires. At the same time, it fulfils the strict security requirements for digital signature and authentication devices. Secure automatic updates ensure the user has reliable protection against Internet attacks at any time.
The SwissStick can be deployed on any operating system – such as MacOS, Linux or Windows – and leaves no trace on the computer after the work is completed. All the applications are interconnected, which enables, for example, the sending of e-mails directly out of the signature software. This means contracts can be signed digitally and sent in one step without having to print them out. Depending on the customer’s requirements, the SwissStick can be upgraded with industry-specific applications or further business solutions, as evidenced by Swiss company Abacus’s use of SwissStick by its staff and customers.
The SwissStick brings together various pieces of Swiss Post Solutions’ technology:
● Swiss Post Box to receive postal mail online
● SwissSigner to provide digital signatures simply
● SSL certificates to support trusted eCommerce worldwide
● and a solution for secure and registered email.
In Switzerland, Swiss Post is working with the Swiss Government, who are subsidising the project, on the introduction of a standardised method for businesses to sign and send documents electronically, providing electronic proof of delivery. The SwissStick will be used to deliver the solution to subscribers, so that they sign documents electronically with legally binding signatures, encrypt them and dispatch them electronically as registered mail.
For remote and mobile workers, and a company IT department, the secure sending and receiving of emails is a primary concern. To address this issue Swiss Post Solutions provides an easy-to-use service to enable secure and verifiable sending of confidential or registered emails. It allows users to send and receive e-mails directly and securely from their e-mail account and they can also be traced – similar to a registered letter – without having to install additional software. The user ensures that only the stipulated recipient can read the message, and can receive a digitally signed post receipt on request. Whether connected to a company network or a public network, the use of SwissStick ensures that the above is conducted in a secure and authenticated manner. Another feature is the built-in web browser, which creates a secure environment that enables a travelling executive to go to an Internet café and plug it in to access his or her files. Adrian Humbel, CEO of SwissSign, the Swiss Post Solutions subsidiary behind the SwissStick, says: “It becomes a mobile office for those travelling light. One client ordered 100 SwissSticks for use by its staff should the swine flu pandemic prevent them coming to the office.”
Humbel continues: “The SwissStick helps our users to save expenses, since it simplifies and speeds up processes. In the long term, all Swiss Post Solutions clients will be equipped with this new technology in order to save them the walk to offices and agencies.”
The SwissStick launched last summer in Switzerland and has been received enthusiastically. The plan is for SwissStick to be launched in other parts of Europe and North America in mid-2010. The target market for SwissStick includes legal,  accountancy, banking, insurance, technology and professional services organisations and is ideal for companies that have a mobile workforce. The next stage of the product's development will be to include secure storage, including backup services, as Swiss Post Solutions seeks to maximise the utility of this small but hugely powerful device.
● David Dorling is Director, Swiss Post Solutions Ltd. For more information visit www.swisssign.com


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