Digital trust: 5 reasons it matters for your business

Digital trust is the key to your company's success and customer relationships. Learn what it means and why it's important for your business.

November 29 2022 by

Hannah Hamilton

Person passing paper heart to another person

Trust is the foundation for successful relationships, whether between friends, family, coworkers or business partners. We’ve all experienced first-hand or heard of betrayals and how they make relationships untenable. This experience doesn’t just apply to our personal lives: we put our trust into the companies we buy from and the goods and services we use every day.

Technology’s ubiquitous presence in our lives means we also have to put our trust in the data we give to businesses. Every time we make a purchase, we are putting our personal information—name, card number, items purchased, etc—into the business’s hands. If our data ends up getting stolen, whether via a data breach or intentional distribution, we’re less likely to do business with that company again.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by McKinsey, 40% of consumers will withdraw business with a company after learning their data was not protected. 10% of customers in the last year stopped working with companies after a data breach, even if their data wasn’t affected.

This is why your company needs to establish a solid foundation of digital trust.

What is digital trust?

Digital trust has different definitions depending on who you ask. McKinsey says:

“Digital trust is the confidence in an organization to protect consumer data, enact effective cybersecurity, offer trustworthy AI-powered products and services, and provide transparency around AI and data usage.”

While the ISACA has a more general definition:

“Digital trust is the confidence in the integrity of the relationships, interactions and transactions among providers and consumers within an associated digital ecosystem.”

In other words, digital trust hits on a few important areas surrounding a company’s technological footprint. Companies need to prevent data breaches: security violations where sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an unauthorized individual. So what are the considerations to prevent this worse case scenario? Let’s break it down:

  • Privacy: Customers should be informed about how their data is being used, and companies should be transparent about their privacy policies. Data should only be gathered as it is needed to provide the requested service.
  • Security: Companies should be making a concerted and deliberate effort to establish strong cybersecurity measures. Solutions like Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) control who can access company (and customer) data and keep information behind tightly locked doors.
  • Identity: Only authorized users and third-parties should be able to access business apps and data. Companies should have identity and access management policies suitable for protecting company resources.
  • Predictability: Businesses should have a well-established, effective threat prevention and remediation strategy to anticipate possible threats and plan for cybersecurity incidents.
  • Risk mitigation: A part of reducing possible risks is visibility into the status of your company devices. Monitoring your endpoints and verifying their compliance gives you insight into what threat hunting practices are suitable for your organization and how you can triage and detect unknown threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Data integrity: Beyond keeping data secure, companies should ensure that any customer data they do have is complete and accurate while being stored and handled correctly. Data should be readily available when access is needed.

However you slice it, digital trust is about good technological stewardship that protects customer data. McKinsey’s survey reports that customers care about companies having an “ethical and trusted reputation” nearly as much as price, quality and convenience. Indeed, 53% of customers will only buy from companies with a reputation of protecting customer data; this figure increases to 65% for those buying for their organization.

Why is digital trust important?

ISACA anonymously surveyed around 50,000 individuals who are either members of ISACA or have earned one of their certifications or credentials. These are what they reported as the biggest benefits of high levels of digital trust.

1. Positive reputation

Unsurprisingly, 66% of respondents reported that a high level of digital trust leads to a positive reputation for a company. As mentioned above, with 53% of customers in McKinsey’s survey only buying from companies with a reputation of protecting customer data, a positive reputation gives you a bigger customer base than with a negative one. In fact, according to McKinsey, digital trust leaders are 1.6 times more likely to see revenue growth rates of at least 10%.

2. Fewer privacy breaches and cybersecurity incidents

Nearly 60% of respondents reported fewer privacy breaches and cybersecurity incidents for digital trust leaders. McKinsey reports that they are 1.5 times more likely to mitigate data privacy issues and cybersecurity risks while experiencing 8% fewer data breaches in the last 3 years.

3. More informed decision-making

57% of respondents list more reliable data for decision-making as a benefit of high levels of digital trust. A good cybersecurity and data privacy posture helps ensure data quality and integrity by preventing alteration or loss of the data. Beyond mitigating data privacy issues, digital trust leaders are also 2.1 times more likely to mitigate data retention risks. Having trustworthy data allows companies to use their data wisely to make informed decisions in response to their present state, the marketplace and current or anticipated concerns.

4. Customer loyalty

Like in our personal lives, trust breeds loyalty—55% of ISACA respondents believe digital trust leads to stronger customer loyalty. McKinsey’s survey shows that digital trust leaders are 14% more likely to have “strengthen relationships with existing customers and acquire new ones by building trust” within their top three goals for digital-risk management.

5. Faster innovation

44% of respondents say digital trust begets faster innovation due to “confidence in their technology and systems.” Innovation requires sustained relationships from loyal customers and a good understanding of the market and consumer needs; this understanding can be obtained by using ethically harvested and well-maintained data. Companies and customers also need to feel assured that their systems and data are well protected, hence the importance of cybersecurity. Together, these factors inspire the confidence innovation requires.

How to build digital trust

Let’s recap: digital trust best practices can give your company more security, customer loyalty, faster innovation and more. So how do we actually go about building digital trust?

It starts by understanding what the initial obstacles are. ISACA’s report lists the following as the most significant obstacles:

  • Lack of skills and training
  • Lack of alignment with enterprise goals
  • Lack of leadership buy-in
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of technological resources

Overcoming these obstacles requires action from a senior leadership team or board of directors, depending on how your company is structured. The top three roles ISACA respondents listed as the most critical for strengthening digital trust are related to IT strategy and governance, security and information technology.

Cybersecurity and data privacy is the foundation of digital trust. Digital trust leaders in McKinsey’s report engage in a number of best practices related to each of these categories, including:

  • Using automated tools to prevent cybersecurity events, enhance security and/or reduce overhead
  • Having policies for data storage and access
  • Integrating security considerations when designing new technology
  • Thoroughly assessing privacy risks when using external data
  • Deploying active defenses against cyber treats
  • Having a incident-response program with regular testing
  • Implementing endpoint malware-prevention solutions
  • Having procedures to handle data privacy breaches

These practices are a good place to start to build digital trust. It’s important to understand how implementing cybersecurity and data privacy policies help accomplish organizational goals, and to build an organization-wide strategy that helps meet them. Trust doesn’t come easy—companies should have a mindset of continuous improvement to respond to the evolving market and technological landscape.

Jamf has security solutions to help you embark on your digital trust journey.

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