It is often said that human beings are “social creatures” – we are programmed to relate to others and learn to trust them. Over the ages our communities have grown and transformed, but the ways in which we develop trust as individuals have remained largely the same.
Trust is the anchor in all relationships
Traditionally, when businesses started trying to gain customer trust, they also relied on the power of people-to-people relationships. Whether it’s the salesperson in a retail store or a cashier at a local bank, these companies have relied on their employees to give a face to their brands and what their customers can relate to – and above all – place their trust.
However, with companies adopting digital operating models, working from home, and growing cloud and mobile-centric engagements, the dynamics of trust have changed. With limited possibilities to physically interface with employees, partners and potential customers, many companies have an incentive to foster digital trust.
So, as we move towards a world where life is increasingly lived online, in this article we will take a look at what it means to build trust digitally, the benefits it can bring, the consequences of losing it. We’ll also explore technologies that boost trust, as they go beyond many aspects of corporate relationships.
The Hierarchy of Trust for a Digital World
It is important to remember that trust must be a fundamental aspect of all our interactions in the digital world. Trust is closely related to issues related to consumer data, intellectual property protection and online transactions, regulatory compliance to name a few.
We have now emerged in a world where interpersonal interactions are no longer part of the business-customer relationship. But that doesn’t mean the need for trust has diminished – in fact, it has become even more critical than ever before as customers now interact with businesses on several different digital channels and platforms, sharing critical personal information.
This explains why digital trust programs are the third top priority for global business leaders in 2021, according to IDC’s 2020 COVID-19 Impact Survey Wave 11.
For a business to be successful in nurturing digital trust with the public, the effectiveness of its online capabilities must be flawless. To embody confidence in the digital transaction, the security guarantees they offer in terms of protecting customers’ personal data and the integrity of their transactions must be solid and proven.
They should be willing to be as transparent as possible with their clients as much as the law and competition allow. Additionally, essential elements of the approach should include more engaging customer communications and raising awareness on how to spot spurious digital interactions.
Overall, to achieve this, companies need to redefine their entire approach to fostering trust in the digital age. In recent years, IDC has proposed a framework for achieving an ecosystem based on trust.
It starts from the fundamental level of risk, which is a function of the visibility and probability of a potential outcome, positive or negative, which could have an impact on confidentiality, integrity, availability, productivity or income.
The next step is the mandatory tape, encapsulating all aspects of security and legally mandated compliance, such as ongoing risk assessments and compliance with various regulatory guidelines and policies.
The last step before a business can actualize digital trust is the strategic element, this is where businesses can differentiate themselves from the pack. Indeed, there are many factors that managers must consider beyond simply reducing risks and costs, such as maximizing the return on investment of capital and resources.
When a business also chooses to place a real priority on more strategic attributes such as confidentiality, ethics and social responsibility, it begins to create a reservoir of future trust that can be harnessed later to create positive results. .
Thus, digital trust must be the precious resource that it is and be a key priority for every business. And while there isn’t a single action a business can take that will instantly give it the trust of its customers and employees, the ongoing process of promoting it in a digital world is driven by technology.
Cybersecurity – the catalyst for digital trust
While the past year may have highlighted the importance of trust in a brutal and meaningful way, the costs of failing to foster digital trust or, worse yet, betraying that trust, come with it. many direct and indirect costs. These include short-term impacts, accounting costs and other economic losses.
However, of all the ways digital trust can be eroded, few things are as damaging as a data breach that leaves customers’ personal data exposed. Apart from the devastating damage to the reputation of the brand, they can also lead to huge fines.
This is why cybersecurity must be inseparable from any initiative aimed at building digital trust. One that is built on a solid foundation of risk management, security and compliance, and on top of that is the skills of the C suite to ensure that it has become a corporate culture supported by the integrity and ethics. Businesses need to take a pragmatic approach in implementing cybersecurity practices to enable and maintain digital trust. Such as – Building a zone of trust, – Intelligent secOps based on analysis, and – Establishing a managed security framework for controls mapped across user, entity, access, device and threat.
Going forward, companies will need to learn to gain trust along the entire business value chain, providing greater visibility across their digital and security architectures, if they are to be successful in the future.
Not only because of the lingering effects of the pandemic, but because harnessing digital trust will be the only way to truly thrive in a digital world.
The author is responsible for Managed Security Services, Tata Communications