Shares of DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU) have been on a tear over the past year, handing shareholders almost a four-bagger over that short period. With this incredible gain in the rearview mirror, investors may think they've missed out on a winning stock, but that's not the case.

DOCU Chart

Stock returns versus the S&P 500 over the last 12 months through July 13, 2020. DOCU data by YCharts.

This e-signature specialist is just getting started and will continue to grow in the years to come. Let's look at five ways the company will grow in the next five years. 

1. Expanding e-signatures

DocuSign was founded in 2003 with a product that made it easy to capture signatures electronically. Since then, its core e-signature offering has been adopted by more than 660,000 customers. Although that seems like a huge number, management estimates that it's only tapped about 1% of its target market.

Many consumers are familiar with DocuSign's product through signing loan papers or rental agreements, but almost two-thirds  of its digital signatures are captured as a part of another software product. Its flagship capability can be integrated into over 350 software applications, making it an essential part of operations for many large companies. This flexibility makes it easy for enterprises to expand e-signature use internally after becoming a customer.

Customer using DocuSign's software on a laptop.

Using DocuSign software. Image source: DocuSign.

Once customers discover the benefits of e-signatures, they realize that it's just the tip of this digital transformation iceberg.

2. Upgrading more customers to its Agreement Cloud

Capturing e-signatures is just one small part of the life of a contract. DocuSign's Agreement Cloud software suite allows the end-to-end process of a contract life cycle to be digitized, from creation and signing to execution and management. 

The company's $220 million purchase of SpringCM, a contract life-cycle management company, in July 2018 has accelerated its entrance into this lucrative space. Within a year of buying the smaller tech specialist, it integrated its products into its Agreement Cloud suite and began selling it. Though the product isn't contributing material revenue yet, it's earned a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader rating and has big-name customers like Salesforce.com, Aetna, and Hilton, which give it tremendous credibility. Look for this cloud product to attract more customers in the years to come.

3. Adding a dose of artificial intelligence

In February, management announced the acquisition of Seal Software, an artificial intelligence (AI) and contracts analytics company, for $188 million. It already had a strong partnership with Seal and had integrated its capabilities into its platform. This acquisition solidifies DocuSign's move into AI and bolsters its Agreement Cloud product offerings.

Customers have experienced tremendous benefits from Seal's software, such as a 75% reduction in legal review time for contracts, an automated analysis of 2.6 million contractual data points, or a comprehensive review of 25,000 agreements completed in just five days. As more organizations move into the Agreement Cloud, there will be more opportunities for DocuSign's AI tools to bring value to its enterprise customers.

4. Executing additional smart acquisitions

Over the past two years, the company has made three key acquisitions enhancing its technology suite. In addition to the two listed above, it recently picked up Liveoak Technologies, an e-notary service, for $38 million. This smart buy adds capability to its digital services for real estate agents and home buyers. With several successful integrations under its belt, management is looking to broaden the DocuSign platform in the coming years with technology acquisitions that would complement its Agreement Cloud product suite.

5. Attracting more happy employees

The company's employee base will grow through acquisitions and continued hiring to keep up with its aggressive growth plans. As a five-time winner of Glassdoor's Best Places to Work award, it has a leg up in attracting top tech talent. In an interview with Glassdoor in December, CEO Daniel Springer said, "We want every employee to feel they did the best work of their lives at DocuSign." A commitment to diversity, inclusion, and employee development supports that effort.

Happy employees are more productive, more creative, and ultimately more valuable to the organization. The investment in its most valuable resource -- employees -- will pay off long into the future.

Adding it all up

This e-signature specialist is spreading its wings to bring more value to customers. Whether it's enabling more e-signatures in crucial business processes, managing more aspects of a contract life cycle, or performing time-saving analytics, DocuSign has many ways to grow its top line. 

With the tailwinds of digital transformation blowing stronger as a result of the novel coronavirus, this e-signature company will grow larger and more valuable by the year 2025. Investors might consider climbing aboard now to be a part of this long-term growth story.