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How do you rebuild trust in Digital, in an era where breaches are not a matter of “if”, but “when”?

Digital developments are undeniably omnipresent in our lives. We use online services in the most natural way.

Technology is increasingly underpinning the development of business and new services. Digital is a source of opportunities but also of new threats. In this uncertain environment, ensuring the trust of those who use digital services is a key issue, and it’s likely a competitive advantage that will set your business ahead of the competition.

Bob Moritz, PwC’s Global Chairman, puts it clearly in this article: “Businesses are reinventing themselves through digital transformations and the application of emerging tech. But are they opening themselves up to new risks even as they pursue new opportunities?”

Luxembourg CEOs aren’t oblivious to this new order.

Indeed, according to this year’s Annual CEO Survey – Luxembourg findings, chief executives place “speed of technological change” and “cybersecurity” in the top 10 concerns.

We thought this was the right time to dig into the binomial business-trust. This article is a summary of a warm conversation we had with Greg Pitzer, Risk Assurance and Digital Trust Partner, on this not only interesting but necessary topic. We trust you’ll enjoy it!

Users are vigilant

In recent times, people are developing an increasing feeling of mistrust in some of the digital market players. The trigger is well known, the flaws and abuse in the use of personal data that media from several countries have unveiled over the last two years. Among them, cases of data breaches involving major social media – Facebook, Google, Quora – have been the most commented.

To speak of a crisis of confidence, however, would be an abuse of the term. What this trend should do is invite businesses who invest in digital to evaluate what their approach towards their users is, and how to make it better in terms of trust and brand reputation.

This is Greg’s take on this regard:

“It is illusory to think that, faced with the risk, we will go backwards or we will disconnect. On the contrary, digital evolutions will accelerate with the generalisation of the use of biometrics or even through blockchain technology. That’s the paradox.”

Take a couple of minutes and think of the future. If our essential needs, such as food safety or health monitoring and provision, will depend more and more on digital services and data processing, how is it going to be possible to guarantee and preserve the trust of all stakeholders?

The figure below shows what participants in a PwC’s global survey on digital trust think of emerging technologies.

Work on trust throughout the value chain

A sound cybersecurity strategy isn’t enough to guarantee trust. It helps, of course, but it’s only a variable of the equation.

To Greg,

“it is necessary to work across the entire value chain, building communities of trust around the service, bringing together service providers, governments and regulators, employees and customers.”

Within this perspective, standards accompanied by certifications are emerging. Regulators also help to empower organisations to protect and use data responsibly, as it did with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Directive on security of network and information systems (NIS).

Confidence rhymes with resilience

Pursuing digital trust, however, isn’t like winning a tic-tac-toe game. IT risk management, cybersecurity and data protection measures will not be enough to prevent certain risks.

Companies need to look more closely at the concept of resilience, which includes cybersecurity and better governance.

It goes beyond being able to react in the event of a breach or system failure, but ensuring that the business can continue to operating activity sustainably once the crisis is gone.

“Think of how, whatever the circumstances, businesses make sure that they can continue to deliver to customer expectations”, suggests Greg. “Businesses’ Trust must be considered as a necessary element for the continuation of the activity and be embedded in a more global way.”

Cyber resilience includes the agility of both defense and recovery capabilities. Resilient systems help companies to sustain operations when possible amid cyberattacks, and to rapidly recover in the event of disruption. This is critical because the crippling or halting of operations can lead directly to financial losses that often exceed, and mount more quickly, than those from data exposure.
The importance of maintaining data integrity will only grow as companies make more data-driven decisions with the aid of artificial intelligence.
Source: The Journey of Digital Trust, PwC

According to PwC’s The Journey of Digital Trust, only about half of medium and large businesses in key sectors say they are building resilience to cyberattacks and other disruptive events largely.

Confidence is multilayered

Building digital trust should lead all spheres of an organisation to evaluate how they use technology and data.

Businesses face a challenge: the confidence gained today can easily fade with the rapid pace of change.

“The technologies being implemented are evolving, as are the threats. Ensuring trust over time must remain at the heart of the ongoing concerns of leaders. Approaching the future, companies must be able to prepare for any eventuality.”

Indeed, a user will certainly be more likely to maintain his confidence in a company that was the victim of an attack if the company can demonstrate that it took precautions and that it was able to react in the best way because it was prepared.

Conversely, it is difficult to forgive a business that has been negligent or abusive.

Digital businesses that lead in safety, security, reliability, privacy and data ethics will be the titans of tomorrow. It’s a journey worth taking.

What we think

“In this fast-paced, ever-changing environment, more than just a technological or organisational issue, trust is about a company’s attitude starting with its leaders. The market players who will best integrate this concept into the heart of their technology and the heart of their development will, in the long run, benefit from a real competitive advantage.”Greg Pitzer, Risk Assurance and Digital Trust Partner, PwC Luxembourg

The article published here reflects only the opinion of the author: PwC Luxembourg

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