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Digital Trust: Strengthening Customer Relationships-Accenture

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Article Synopsis :

Trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy; without it businesses can’t use and/or share the data fueling their operations.

 The Digital Insurer reviews Accenture’s Report on Digital Trust_Strengthening Customer Relationships Through Ethics and Security

Trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy. Data security is the major factor   

Trust with customers, partners, as every executive knows, is as difficult to build as it is easy to lose. In “Digital Trust: Strengthening customer relationships through ethics and security”, Accenture explores the idea of ‘digital trust’ and it’s role gaining and sustaining market share.  Accenture’s Technology Vision 2016 survey unearthed two findings on which this report is based:

  1. 83% of participants agree that trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy.
  2. 82% say a lack of security and ethical controls on data could exclude them from participating in other companies’ digital platforms and broader ecosystems.

Per the report, digital trust is based on the digital ethics maintained by the enterprise. With global information security spend set to exceed US$100 billion by 2019 (per Gartner) it’s clear many businesses already understand the implied connection between trust and ethics and data security.

While this is good, companies must also realize the need for soft investments in staff training and incentive plans aligned to overall ethics and security strategies. Cyber risk insurers, realizing this, have implemented control elements in their underwriting processes.

The lack of proper controls can also impede innovation in a regulated business environment, drawing both strategic and reputational risks.

It almost goes without saying that protecting data from external attacks is job one. Utilizing next-generation security mechanisms such as security-aware application designs, integrated database security, dynamic access controls, and runtime application protection are imperative.

The report suggests elevating data security and ethics from peripheral to core strategies. To this end the report makes two predictions:

  1. High-profile digital ethics failures will create new governing bodies, new regulations and a new category of jobs.
  2. A new leader will emerge – The Chief Ethics Officer.

The report outlines a 465-day plan for building digital trust:

Phase I (100-day plan):

  1. Survey stakeholders to quantify the level of trust across your product portfolio.
  2. Search customer service logs for the word ‘trust’ and run sentiment analysis against the results to better understand how customers perceive your offerings and brand; make a top-five list of the least trustworthy offerings.
  3. Take an inventory of data-driven business processes; describe the current and potential opportunities for enhanced security and data ethics for each.
  4. Identify the executive(s) responsible for building and maintaining trust, digital ethics, and security with vendors, partners, and customers.
  5. Research what your competitors do to build customer trust. Record what builds and erodes trust. Brainstorm opportunities for improvement within your own operations.
  6. Partner with an academic institution, non-profit, or industry group for a deep dive into one or more aspects of digital ethics. Publish findings/advice for others.
  7. Compile a list of opportunities for security to move closer to the data.

Phase II (365-Day plan):

  1. From the top-five list of the least-trustworthy products do a complete customer journey analysis to understand where opportunities exist to build trust.
  2. Discuss hiring a chief digital officer, chief trust officer, or chief ethics officer with your board of directors. This role will be responsible for orchestrating the establishment and maintenance of digital trust.
  3. Pick one product/service to maximize trust. Build metrics for tracking improvement over time. Report results to product teams and challenge them to meet aggressive targets.
  4. Start tracking metrics for trust and both data and digital ethics. Use this data to include trust and ethical practices in your company’s annual CSR report.
  5. Implement a portfolio of solutions to move security closer to the data. Describe how these implementations mitigate downside risk. Share this report with your CIO and CFO in an effort to reduce insurance premiums.

Digital Insurer's Comments

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there have already been 809 reported data breaches this year. In the digital age there’s no better way to alienate your customer than by leaking their personal data.

Human trust has an intangible component. Digital trust, by contrast, like everything else digital, is starkly binary. Success is in the gritty, exacting detail. Businesses must tab an executive responsible for developing governance models, taxonomies, and principles-based codes of conduct.  This role should also handle ethical questions relating to decision-making in autonomous systems, informed consent, how to do no harm, and what it means to be truly anonymous.

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