Building Digital Trust

Building Digital Trust

Often I sit in conversations where brick and mortar leaders wonder aloud what makes the likes of Facebook, Whatsapp, Pinterest etc. with less than five to eight years of existence more valuable than businesses that they have built over decades and in some cases over centuries. Most are in awe of the digital economy. Its only now that many are wanting to adapt and adopt it. Conversations are now veering towards leveraging the various possibilities and opportunities in social media, mobile, cloud, analytics, hyper-connectivity, digital identity etc. Reminds me of a quote from the ice hockey great Wayne Gretsky, ‘ A good hockey player skates to where the puck is. A great hockey player skates to where it’s going.” 

Business leaders are now trying to skate to where it is all clearly headed -  the digital world.

Alas, navigating the digital world effectively and efficiently will require more than one key building block to be put in place. Organizations will need to master  five core elements. Firstly, organizations must understand the rapidly evolving digital customers, needs & desired outcomes and the impact on profitability and growth.

Secondly, companies need to understand how value is created in the digital economy, especially in their value chain and ecosystem. Accordingly they need to define their  new business model.

Thirdly, organizations need to design a clear digital  proposition, that is they need to be sure of the value they provide and are not going digital for the sake of going digital. Together with the proposition, companies need to establish an  optimal operating model and a clear route to achieving it in order to create a sustainable digital business. 

Fourthly, it is significant that companies adopt agile approaches to design, build and integrate enterprise wide social, mobile and web solutions. No success story is possible in the digital world wherein only external interfaces are aligned with the digital story while the internal systems and processes are neglected. The fifth, important element of the digital story is to develop very robust capabilities to protect assets, data and reputation against the threats of the digital world. These five elements are critical for organizations to  undertake their digital transformation journey.

Clients with a digital foot print often complain of the lack of traction in the digital channel. What they essentially mean is that they are not able to attract, interact with and effectively acquire clients through their online properties. Interestingly, many do not understand that there is a vast difference between ‘going digital’ and ‘being digital’. The digital transformation, ‘being digital’, is about overhauling erstwhile organizational shibboleths and acquiring means and ways to thrive in a new world.  This implies that the digital is thought of not  just as another extension to the business  but a truly self sustaining business unit.

Critical to this transformation is the promise of trust. Trust in the digital world has four unique attributes. Firstly, trust manifests from confidence in security. This implies that organizations should have systems that are secured to protect customer and other data and that identity/ privacy related security issues have been resolved. Confidence in the data is the second key attribute of digital trust. Organizations need to ensure the integrity of the data and must be certain of their ability to benefit from this data for business decision making. Confidence in the systems is another key aspect of the digital trust framework. Confidence that  business systems have the right controls and monitoring to ensure that they do what they are supposed to whether they are in-house systems or are delivered as cloud based services. Fourthly, digital trust rests on the confidence of organizations to take risks. This implies that organizations be confident that technology risks are understood and well managed and that digital platforms will be available when required (24*7). These four attributes circumscribed with a strong confidence in the digital transformation program of the organization are critical to fostering digital trust.

A leading client summed it up aptly when he described the digital opportunity as ‘As we slept, the world changed. Nothing is the same and yet nothing is new.’ It is significant that business leaders ensure a strong foundation of trust is incorporated in their digital transformation journey.