The state of digital trust: What does it mean for businesses? 

Digital trust has the power to make or break an organisation. It’s fundamental to all businesses and is a critical factor in the ability to innovate, expand and be resilient in a turbulent, highly connected global marketplace.

The state of digital trust

So, you’d be forgiven for thinking businesses are prioritising digital trust, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. ISACA’s State of Digital Trust research reveals that just 7% of European business and IT professionals are completely confident in the digital trustworthiness of their organisation. 

Now that’s not to say businesses don’t see it as relevant or important, our research shows quite the opposite: most (94%) respondents believe digital trust is relevant to their organisation. And its importance is only due to grow as 83% of businesses think digital trust will be even more important over the next 5 years. 

There’s clearly a gap between thought and action when it comes to digital trust. The reasons behind this will vary across businesses – but the bottom line is that they need to change this if they’re going to protect their organisation now and in the future.

So, what is digital trust? 

Digital trust can be defined as the confidence in the relationship and transactions between providers and consumers within a digital ecosystem. This includes the ability of people, organisations, processes and technology to create and maintain a trustworthy digital field. 

When trust exists, consumers and businesses are more likely to exchange and transact – speeding up innovation, building economic expansion and protecting crucial data. Which is why no one person or department should be responsible for digital trust. It must be backed by every corner of any organisation and embedded into all processes and activity to really see the value of the investment. 

Why should businesses prioritise digital trust? 

European business and IT professionals recognise the benefits of high levels of digital trust. In fact, 70% of respondents say digital trust translates to a positive reputation while over half (57%) state businesses who have established digital trust experience fewer privacy breaches while a similar number (55%) believe digital trust leads to fewer cybersecurity incidents. 

All of this means clear business benefits including increased customer loyalty, better customer acquisition and higher financial returns. Businesses understand the importance of digital trust, and yet many are struggling to achieve it. 

What’s holding businesses back from building digital trust? 

One of the reasons businesses are struggling is because one in three (33%) don’t measure their digital practices. They don’t know where their current approach to digital trust stands, so of course, they don’t know how to improve it. 

What’s more, survey respondents cited a lack of leadership buy-in (41%) and a lack of alignment between digital trust and enterprise goals (38%) as blockers to digital trust. These feed into each other, as if business and IT professionals can show the close ties between digital trust and overall business objectives, they’ll soon secure C-Suite level support. 

A lack of leadership backing means it’s just not a business priority. Only a quarter (27%) of organisations provide any kind of digital trust training to staff, and 41% don’t have a staff role dedicated to digital trust and are unlikely to in the next five years. Which is why almost half (49%) of respondents highlight a lack of staff skills and training as an obstacle to achieving high levels of digital trust. 

Our results indicate businesses need to prioritise time and investment in digital trust training and skills development for all employees, regardless of their department. The implications of a lack of digital trust are often not explained in business terms to members of the C-Suite. In such instances, they might not fully understand the value, and therefore be less inclined to inject time and money in protecting their business. 

Which is why communication and education throughout the organisation is key to improving investment in – and an understanding of – digital trust. It’s down to digital trust professionals to interpret digital trust within the context of their organisation, and then convey to business management why it needs to be a priority. 

There are several ways businesses can establish and build digital trust, and many of these are within arm’s reach. They just need to better leverage the internal resources they’ve already got and use these tools to set themselves up for long term business success. 

Chris Dimitriadis
Chris Dimitriadis

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