Trust must be central to your digital transformation strategy

There are real tangible benefits for organisations that build customer relationships based on trust.

It is especially important when it comes to digital transformation. The pace of digital disruption is only increasing, changing the way we do everything. The 2019 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey shows globally, 44 percent of organisations are prepared to fundamentally change their business model in the next three years to keep pace. Digital transformation at such a scale should be welcomed, but it must be kept in mind that there are risks involved. Most innovation in the digital space involves leveraging a very sensitive asset: customer data.

How can you make sure customers trust you with their data? I have already written about the need for businesses to increase the cyber security readiness and it goes without saying customers won’t trust you with their personal information if they believe it will be easily stolen for nefarious purposes or if they think your business will use their data for other than its intended use. Prioritising security and data by design, treating data as an asset, and establishing dynamic incident response are three key technical capabilities that all contribute to protecting the customer.

And be mindful of crossing the ‘freak line’ – the point at which people become unsettled by what you are doing, real or perceived, with their data.

One way to help protect sensitive data is to formally involve your technology teams early in business decisions. Our research shows that businesses that fail to do so not only see increased cyber security risks, but are 23 percent less likely to be effective at building customer trust with technology. This technical trust is the foundation to establishing profitable customer interactions.

Our Building Technical Trust survey revealed nearly 40 percent of customers are willing to change from a preferred product or service to one considered more transparent. IT and technology leaders understand how to create systems with technical trust, and understand its importance. 91 percent of them know, in the near future, data privacy will be just as important to the customer as the actual product or service on offer.

Digital service delivery and customer support are always evolving, requiring constant guidance from those who helped build those systems – as is data. Every piece of customer data collected, stored and used by your organisation needs to be done so according to strict rules that need to change and update in response to regulatory requirements and shifting consumer expectations. These rules are too important to merely set and forget.

Organisations can also benefit by updating their incident response processes. These days most customers understand that breaches can sometimes happen. However, they will be unforgiving if the breach goes undetected or is covered up or is as a result of incompetence on the part of the organisation concerned. It is necessary to take a proactive, not reactive approach to such incidents. Implement layered defences with predictive capabilities; that way any breaches can be contained quickly and the customer can be informed of what has happened and what is being done to stop it. Customers also appreciate honesty.

If you are one of the 44 percent of businesses preparing to digitally transform your business model; consider involving data specialists on the ground floor. The idea of trust has to be embedded into the foundational design of any product or service. There is a cost, but it will be far cheaper than the financial and reputational costs of having to retrofit a good system later on, or dealing with the fallout of a large breach. It must be remembered that trust is hard to earn but easy to lose.

Watch Guy Holland talk more about digital transformation on The Next Five Years

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