Most organizations are well aware of the fact that data is a valuable asset. As an extension thereof, it is almost equally important to make sure clients feel at ease when they entrust data to your organization.

The importance of trust

Creating trust in an organization is of course not about data only. It’s also about making up to your promises – pricing, delivery times, … – and about selling trustworthy products and services. Data is a relatively new element here, but it nevertheless evolved very quickly into one of the most decisive trust indicators amongst stakeholders.

Several studies reveal that trust results in a value exchange that is beneficial for both parties. Trust is a decisive element for customers – both in B2C and B2B environments – when making their buying decisions. Simply put, more trustworthy companies can look forward to more customers buying more products and services. Moreover, building trust can also lead to more willingness on the part of your customers to share their data. This data can be used to create business value, for instance by using the data to make better machine learning models.

From obligation to opportunity

Most organizations think of regulations like GDPR, NIS or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) as a burden. It’s true they cause of lot of extra work and often require additional investments so, yes, they are a burden. However, they can also create new opportunities.

GDPR compliance is more and more considered as a quality label, as it proves the organization carefully handles the data it is entrusted with. It also shows the organization is transparent about the way personal data is handled and used. In a world of data breaches, organizations that are GDPR compliant have a competitive advantage. Let’s say that nowadays it’s an effective form of PR when you are able to prove your organization is compliant with the different data protection laws.

The strategic value of data

It’s a bit ironic that, while data often is considered a valuable asset within an organization, in most cases it’s not included in the balance sheet. Fact is that the true value of data is difficult to quantify and must foremost be considered as a strategic asset, rather than a resource in a tactical, operational sense.

When you want to use data to create competitive advantages, such as increasing customer loyalty or explore new market opportunities, it might be necessary to tweak your business model somewhat, to help maintain and strengthen trust. During this process, it is recommended that you take a close look at the customer journey and identify potential critical moments of possible trust breakdowns within that journey.

An overall approach for trust works better

Building a holistic trust program that is based on a proactive, strategic approach is much more effective than a series of fragmented initiatives. In any case, it is recommended to publish the values you defined on how your organization treats the data it is entrusted with.

Whatever you communicate about data and trust, make sure your messages are honest and integer. Remember that it is important to always be transparent – more on that in the example below – and to show that your organization is committed to responsible behaviour that is in the best interest of your clients and other stakeholders. Transparency entails being open about your approach on personal data, your business model and your policies, and explaining all of this in detail – but in clear terms – to your clients.

It is important to keep in mind that building trust is as much about making the right security decisions as it is to communicate about those decisions.

Everybody on board?

It is necessary that the measures you have taken to assure people their data is used responsibly, are correctly implemented and understood across all relevant levels within your organization. In the end, this way of thinking has to get embedded in the culture of your organization. This allow your staff to self-regulate and take responsibility to guard the image of your business.

Security and trust no longer should be considered as an afterthought but should rather be at the forefront of customer acquisition and retention.

Data breaches

Data breaches are of course extremely harmful for trust and should be avoided at all cost. However, if your organization is the victim of a data breach after all, it’s critically important to be honest and transparent about it.

In 2016, Uber discovered that hackers managed to get access to personal data of no less than 57 million riders and drivers. Instead of honestly explaining what was going on, Uber decided to pay the hackers ($100.000) and cover things up. This obviously didn’t work, and it had pretty unpleasant consequences for Uber. Uber’s CSO got fired and the company had to pay a $148 million settlement. In a statement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said: “Uber’s decision to cover up this breach was a blatant violation of the public’s trust. The company failed to safeguard user data and notify authorities when it was exposed. Consistent with its corporate culture at the time, Uber swept the breach under the rug in deliberate disregard of the law”. Ouch.

Security as business enabler

It’s a fact that a data breach is one of the three fastest ways to undermine a company’s reputation – the other two are an environmental incident and poor customer service –, but trying to cover things up only makes it worse. In a world where data breaches become bigger and more common, digital trust is a valuable asset for companies and is changing the way how management looks at safety.

Until recently, security was considered as a necessary cost to prevent bad things from happening. However, companies start to understand that security is also a business enabler for new services and improved customer loyalty.

To this end, security needs to be tied to business goals. This can be achieved by embedding data security into new products and services – right from the design stage – and regularly conducting risk and regulatory compliance assessments.

What Elimity got to do with this

Elimity Insights, a powerful SaaS tool by Elimity, significantly reduces the risk of a data breach and helps you to find weak spots in your defence system swiftly and easily. So while it’s not an all-encompassing solution to create trust – such solutions simply do not exist –, Elimity Insights is one of the key tools you will need to get the job done.

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