GWI Australia

Digital Trust: What is it, why is it important and how to build it?

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GWI Managing Partner, Michelle Teis, shares her thoughts on why digital trust is so important for organisations and how they can build it.

The rise of the digital economy has brought about many new opportunities and challenges. One of the most important of these challenges is the building of digital trust. According to the World Economic Forum, digital trust is an individuals’ expectation that digital technologies and services – and the organisations providing them – will protect all stakeholders’ interests and uphold societal expectations and values.

The safeguarding of personal information is critical to digital trust.

The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS), published regularly since 1990 by the Office of the Australian Information Commission, provides an in-depth study of how Australian attitudes to privacy have evolved. The 2023 survey is currently underway and there is no doubt it will reflect a change of perception following the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly influenced our views about digital engagement, privacy and ways of working.

The last published ACAPS report highlighted that almost 9 in 10 people want more choice and control over their personal information. And that 97% consider privacy important when choosing a digital service.

Despite this, the 2022 Global Privacy Survey by Cisco revealed that only 25% of businesses have a robust privacy program in place.

I believe digital trust is a shared responsibility.

In our increasingly digital economy, there are three core considerations for earning or developing digital trust:

  1. Privacy is the top concern

Privacy is the most important factor in determining digital trust. The digital sophistication and volume of emerging technologies that collect data creates risk for individuals managing the protection of their personally identifiable information. Individuals have a right to demand assurance that their data is safeguarded against internal and external attacks, data leaks and cyber incidents. It is imperative that businesses prioritise data protection, be transparent about their data practices, provide easy-to-use privacy controls and demonstrate ethical behaviours when it comes to handling personal information.

  1. Businesses must be proactive in building digital trust

Customers expect businesses to take the lead in building and maintaining digital trust. As more of our lives and interactions take place digitally, businesses must earn the trust of their customers and ensure confidence in their digital ecosystems. Taking deliberate steps to demonstrate reliability and ensure decision-making occurs within a framework of robust security and privacy controls must be at the forefront of business and IT leaders’ minds.  

  1. There is a need for global standards.

Leaders who seek to maximise value from data and digital environments recognise the benefit of standards to guide decision-making. The World Economic Forum’s Digital Trust Framework defines a decision-making guide for business and IT leaders at the highest levels when considering the development, use or application of digital technologies and services. It speaks to the cybersecurity, safety, transparency, interoperability, auditability, redressability, fairness and privacy as the foundational means of achieving the goals of the digital trust framework.

Examples of building digital trust 

Already in Australia, there are some promising examples of organisations deploying initiatives to increase digital trust. Digital Trust for Places and Routines (DTPR) has been used in New South Wales as an open-source communication standard to increase transparency and accountability for digital technology in public places. DTPR includes a visual system of signs and icons posted around technologies in public spaces, such as traffic sensors or air quality sensors. The signs let people know what data the technology is collecting, who’s collecting it, and what the data is being used for.

Similarly, the ‘Data in the Park‘ project facilitated by the City of Melbourne sought to identify opportunities for parks to be more supportive, inclusive and comfortable places through the use of enabling technology and data insights. One of the project’s key features was disclosing information on the sensors being used to gather data in the park and giving the community access to that data.

Digital trust is key to creating an economically viable, safe and engaging digital future. But it is an ongoing process that requires continuous investment, improvement, and adaptation to changing circumstances,  emerging trends and potential risks.

GWI has a deep experience in the digital world. Through our award-winning advisory business, as well as our implementation arm, we understand the risks and requirements of creating and delivering a successful digital strategy and program of work. Our independent advice will help you innovate with confidence, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of digitally-enabled processes and operations.   

Talk to the GWI team today to learn how we guide you on your digital journey.

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