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Businesses need to deal in the currency of trust. Paying lip service to meeting certain standards will no longer cut it. Image Credit: Getty Images

As the digital economy took shape over the last five years, many organisations embarked on their own digital transformation journeys to compete and survive in this new economy. The disciplines of security and trust are also in an era of significant transformation.

Just as organisations have been pulled into digital transformation, there’s no escaping the rising importance and impact that security and trust have on an organisation’s operations, culture, and brand. Of course, the issue of trust isn’t a new concept for large enterprises.

Corporate history is littered with major data breaches and misuses of customer information, with each example leaving a trail of operational, financial, and reputational damage in its wake. However, faced with a daily barrage of incidents and inadequate responses, many consumers, citizens and partners are now beginning to question their trust in technology, businesses, and governments alike.

And once lost, that trust can be extremely difficult to regain.

Make that commitment now

Those organisations that seize the moment and truly transform their approach to security and trust will be better positioned to adapt and surge forward in their respective industries. They will be rewarded with a more favourable perception among the growing number of digital natives and become far more cost-effective as they will no longer have to endure recurring episodes of “all hands on deck” security incidents.

Change in narrative

All of this is building up towards the “Future of Trust” — a reappraisal of the security conversation to include attributes such as risk, compliance, privacy, and even business ethics. These elements are transforming the conversation from what a company “must” do to prevent negative outcomes to what it “should” do.

Trust is more than just about mitigating harm; it’s about maximising return, creating a differentiated impact on revenue, expenses, and shareholder value. And as the language of trust changes, it is increasingly being elevated to a boardroom-level discussion.

IDC’s research shows the seriousness with which this topic is being treated at the highest levels. Indeed, we expect 50 per cent of the world’s largest companies (Global 2000) to have appointed a “Chief Trust Officer” by 2023, with that executive’s responsibility extending across security, finance, HR, risk, sales, production, and legal.

By 2025, IDC expects two-thirds of Global 2000 boards to have demanded the implementation of a formal trust initiative. And by the same year, 40 per cent of Fortune 1000 companies will require partners and vendors to meet trust scores as a condition of doing business.

Creating pathways

The Future of Trust means that traditional approaches to security are facing challenges both in scope and scale. Much like the hierarchy that Maslow proposed for human needs, trust must be implemented in a layered approach, starting with risk and moving up through security, compliance, ethics, and privacy to eventually attain trust.

As businesses move through these stages, they must be mindful of establishing three different spheres of trust. The first of these is “trusted governance,” which requires organisations to internally mitigate enterprise risk and put controls in place to ensure adherence to behaviours and best practices that help build or strengthen trust.

The second is a “trusted ecosystem”, which requires organisations to ensure the integrity of digital transactions between partner entities by proactively managing the collective risk to all participants. The third is “trust enabled commerce”, which will empower companies to drive revenue by delivering highly differentiated products, services and experiences.

Building a digital trust programme that delivers all three spheres of trust will help organisations succeed. But the opposite will be true for those organisations that follow a wait-and-see approach.

They will forgo their opportunity to lead from a position of strength and the costs they will incur to catch up to the new “bare minimum” will be significant. For some, those costs will radically and adversely impact their business aspirations — potentially forever.

- Jyoti Lalchandani is regional Managing Director at IDC.