As we live in a digital world, things come at us at the speed of light, which is among the biggest benefits of the digital age. In the scope of human history, digitization has been a relatively recent development, but the continued need for trust has remained constant. The very concept of “trust,” however, can mean very different things in this new digital world as compared to its physical forebearer.

Trust is the most important key to the success of any business, digital or otherwise, and building trust is the first step in any business interaction. The definition of trust has evolved to meet our new expectations, and as a result, “digital trust” is a concept that enables both customers and business owners to conduct transactions in a safe, ethical and secure manner. As the global economy becomes increasingly reliant on connections, data and new technologies, digital trust is becoming increasingly important. In order to be trustworthy, technology must be secure as well as responsibly used. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding regarding these two factors has led to people being suspicious of digitization. Globally, there’s been little agreement on what digital trust means exactly.

Spreading Digital Trust

In other words, business relationships are no longer just about exchanging goods and services, but also about ensuring the security of personal information. Nowadays, digital trust can be seen to cover six important areas:

  • Privacy: Achieving any transaction or data transfer without viewing the customers' personal data for any longer than necessary.
  • Security: A company’s power to guarantee that there is absolutely no threat to the data of any of the parties involved in the transaction.
  • Identity: Conveying a customer’s “real” identity online; unless explicitly forbidden by the customer, accurately depicting identity is a factor of digital trust.
  • Predictability: Predicting risks based on existing data, and making extensive plans in case of a "what if" scenario. This shows clients that a company with foresight is a company that can be trusted.
  • Risk reduction: The ability to minimize the impact of uncertain events. This foresight attracts the approval of customers, both current and potential. Knowing that all possible risks have been taken into account will encourage customers to share their data.
  • Data integrity: Keeping customers' data safe above all. Data integrity is to ensure that all the data you have is complete and accurate and that it is being stored and handled appropriately, securing the customers’ trust.

The Pillars of Digital Trust

Time and effort are needed to build digital trust. Many companies face the dilemma of turning some customers away by digitizing their operations, but they are also losing customers by not having a well-established digital presence. To get this balance right, there are four pillars on which companies can establish digital trust with their customers.

The first is transparency and accessibility. Consumers expect transparency in every aspect of their interaction with a company or brand. In the digital world, people have access to vast amounts of information available at their fingertips, so they can easily search for what products and services are available. In exchange, they provide companies with their personal data. This is done, therefore, with the expectation that there will be transparency in the operations of the company as well as accessibility when required.

The second pillar needed to establish digital trust is that of ethics and responsibility. The digital world has a dark side – it is only as ethical as its creators and operators. It is important for companies to repurpose technology according to their best values in order to make the most of it and its greater influence. Thus, they can prove to their customers that their company is worthy of the trust placed in them.

Privacy and control together create the third pillar of this digital trust. In the digital world, there is a give-and-take between consumers and companies: Consumers are sharing their data to make their experiences more convenient and personalized. Should customers feel their data is being used in a way they don't approve of, however, companies can offer them control over when and how they want their data used. This creates a trusting relationship based on mutual respect between the companies and their customers.

The last pillar is security and reliability. Customers believe that businesses should be held accountable for breaching their trust; they are more aware of cyber risks now than ever before. They can therefore choose companies they believe can best be trusted with their data. A company with up-to-date cybersecurity is more likely to attract customers than one that is constantly in the news for security breaches.

Simply put, the work for a trusted future begins now, and to achieve one that drives success through digital trust, we need to make sense of the rapid developments that take place on a daily basis. Cybersecurity is a key factor that will ensure there is digital trust between consumers and service providers. Lastly, building a future where digital trust is an undeniable value of a business requires dedication to ensuring that customers are satisfied with the security and integrity of the data they provide.

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