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Five reasons why your business needs a Chief Trust Officer (CTrO)

(Image credit: Image Credit: Shutterstock/xtock)

Over the last decade, digital transformation has gone from being a long-term action item to taking precedence over other business activities. Largely due to the sweeping changes resulting from Covid-19, the pace of digitization is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. In fact, a recent McKinsey global survey found that the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their respondents’ portfolio has accelerated by seven years. In addition, the survey uncovered that businesses were acting on digitization 20 to 25 times faster than expected.

It goes without saying that the benefits of being digital are nearly endless – increased agility, improved reliability, new revenue streams, improved customer experiences, and the ability to make more informed decisions – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. However, digital transformation also brings vulnerabilities and risks, which can make the stakes extremely high. The vulnerabilities and risks can be narrowed down to three significant causes – exponential growth of data, partnerships and ecosystems, and the ever-increasing number of online users.

From a data perspective, over 1.7 MB of data is generated per person per second, and 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. A question to ask… do you trust the integrity of the data? Partnerships and ecosystems are expected to unlock $100 trillion of value for businesses over the next 10 years, however can you trust your partner ecosystems? Finally, more than 50 percent of the global population is online. Is it even feasible to trust all of their identities? Unlocking the answers to these questions lies in digital trust. What does trust mean in the digital world and to your business?

Digital trust, what does it mean? 

Digital Trust is a concept that enables users to carry out business transactions in a safe, secure, ethical, and reliable manner. Although it’s a key enabler, not all businesses understand or realize the importance of digital trust, which leaves them at a distinct strategic disadvantage.

Trust in the physical world is much easier to comprehend. This is when you are confident that your expectations will be met by another person. In other words, you trust that person implicitly with sensitive information and there’s a mutual understanding that the confidence you entrusted to them will be safe. However, what does trust mean in the digital world?

With the lines blurring between the physical and digital worlds, what has been disparate components – people, processes, and products – are now converging to work in tandem. Trust, whether physical or digital should be thought of as a tangible element that spans both worlds and needs to work in unison. However, digital business depends upon agile (and sometimes transitory) digital interactions. When encountered with digital scenarios, you need to ensure that your organization can deliver high-quality and secure digital interactions. Indeed, the digital world continues to open a steady stream of new opportunities, while introducing the need to find answers to emerging questions. 

A question to ask… does your company embrace and promote digital trust? Today, digital trust is considered to be the cornerstone for success. From enhancing brand image and adopting new technologies to bringing in investments, digital trust is fast becoming a critical competitive differentiator. However, creating a digital trust organization is not an easy task. It’s certainly not a one-off process, but rather a continuous evolution that requires constant vigilance. And this is where a Chief Trust Officer (CTrO) is essential for the financial health of your business. 

Why digital trust is becoming essential 

Considered the centerpiece for success in our ever-increasing digital world, digital trust is quickly escalating from being a “nice to have” to a necessity. If you’ve already onboarded a CTrO, consider your organization a leader in today’s digital economy. If you’re undecided or taking a “wait and see” approach, here are five reasons why your business needs a CTrO.

1. Digital trust initiatives are becoming mandatory

As an increasing number of organizations begin to understand the importance of digital trust, the emphasis that Chief Experience Officers place on trust will become a priority. An IDC survey showed that over the next five years, digital trust programs will become the most important agenda item for business leaders, making trust programs a standard in the digital economy. IDC predicts that two-thirds of the G2000 boards will ask for a formal trust initiative that executes a roadmap to increase an enterprise’s security, privacy, protections, and ethical execution. Additionally, IDC believes that 50 percent of the G2000 will name a CTrO in order to coordinate trust across business functions such as security, finance, human resources, sales, production, and legal. 

2. Digital trust is evolving

Today, there are varying descriptions of digital trust, with different scopes and levels of coverage. In the beginning it only encompassed security and privacy, with relevancy limited to data breaches and content misuse. It has now evolved to include intangibles like transparency, credibility, reputation, etc., as well as identity, risk mitigation, predictability, and data integrity. What’s important to note is that the current fluidity of digital trust makes accountability and ownership difficult, which is why the role of CTrO is becoming invaluable. 

3. Digital trust is becoming a strategic differentiator

As consumers become more informed and aware of digital trust, they are using this knowledge to make purchasing decisions based on the company’s ability to demonstrate a trustworthy ecosystem. For businesses to attract customers and gain their loyalty, it will become increasingly important for them to clearly display digital trust across the entire business. When this doesn’t happen, customers will use their purchasing power to show their displeasure and force change. 

4. Digital trust is becoming more relevant for enterprises

As discussed directly above, B2C digital trust is becoming increasingly important for businesses to remain relevant. However, it’s also becoming a growing need outside of B2C companies and making its way into enterprises – both B2B and B2G (business to government). The move to these sectors is a direct result of digital trust’s expanded scope which includes areas such as identity, risk mitigation, predictability, and data integrity.

5. Digital trust is making its way into the boardroom

With adoption of the internet of things (IoT) forecasted to triple from 8.74 billion in 2020 to more than 25.4 billion IoT devices in 2030, and the global 5G services market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.2 percent between 2021 and 2028, the digital world will consist of an innumerable number of endpoints and use cases. The acceleration of digital services has made digital trust a term previously used primarily by visionaries to a topic that business leaders are associating with their bottom line. 

While businesses are beginning to realize the importance of digital trust and are addressing various elements of it, it has yet to become mainstream and have an executive in charge of all things digital. With the continual evolution of digital trust and its many aspects, your Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) would only be responsible for one component of digital trust, leaving other elements unattended. Some organizations are taking the path of appointing a Chief Identity Officer and a Chief Privacy Officer to work alongside the CISO, however as their responsibilities are rungs on the digital trust ladder, the most practical and cost-efficient solution is to onboard a CTrO.

Vinod Kumar, Managing Director and CEO, Subex

Vinod Kumar, Managing Director and CEO, Subex.