What is digital trust and why does your CSO care about it?

June 27, 2019 | Bindu Sundaresan

digital trust is required for a pleasant online customer experience

As I talk to organizations in the AT&T Executive Briefing Center and learn more about the different types of business and enterprise security goals, one of the resonating themes across different industry verticals today is Digital Trust. The goal is to build trust in the system between the consumers of your services and the enterprise. To achieve this goal, it is about going to the foundational aspects of information protection. It is about building the measures that help enterprises build confidence (of consumers, employees, customers etc.) while increasing the adoption of new digital channels.

What is digital trust?

Digital Trust is a concept that refers to the level of confidence that customers, business partners and employees have in a company or organization's ability to maintain secure networks, systems and infrastructures, especially with regard to their sensitive data. As more and more data breaches have been reported in the news, the concept of Digital Trust has become a mainstream concept for virtually all stakeholders on the world wide web. Digital Trust is a  "make-or-break" issue, not a "nice to have". 

Organizations are now viewing digital transformation initiatives with a lens of digital trust while managing an ever-widening list of priorities to address risk exposure, regulatory and compliance requirements - all with a leaner IT/Security team.

As organizations work to build customer-focused, digital business models, it’s critical to consider the role of trust and privacy in the customer journey. Delivering digital trust isn’t a matter of propping up a highly secure website or app, or avoiding a costly, embarrassing data breach. It is about creating a digital experience that exceeds customer expectations, allows frictionless access to goods and services, and helps protect customers’ right to privacy while using the data they share to create a customized and valuable experience. Today’s security strategies are, in large part, still responding to yesterday’s challenges. From reports of exposed personal information to data misuse, trust incidents are becoming increasingly visible to the public.

What are the key attributes to a trust-focused organization? 

Cyber risk is recognized as business risk. Business leaders should actively support the need for persistent visibility into digital customer behavior online, even as the cybersecurity team works to strengthen safeguards against threat actors and data privacy risks.

Visibility is valued. User experience should be as pleasant and streamlined as possible for customers. Trust should feel virtually seamless for customers. Barriers should only appear to suspected threat actors. Data analytics solutions can provide visibility into a customer’s movements across digital platforms and identify risks by comparing near real-time data to a baseline of known threats. When an abnormal pattern of customer logins, transactions or behavior is identified, the system should automate an immediate response to further authenticate users or isolate risks.

Design thinking. The process of delivering digital trust is about more than security and technology, it’s a shift in mindset that places the customer experience at the center of digital transformation. Secure code and processes with security as an active consideration, rather than an after-thought are critically important to success. Baked-in security offers greater assurance against risks and creates an easier digital experience across channels.

Empathy is at the core of trust delivery. Digital trust is a moving target, like any other strategic business goal. Your organization can’t rely on stagnant strategies to grow profitability or address risks. To build lasting customer relationships, organizations must understand that trust is a dynamic pursuit that requires agility. Empathy towards the customer is at the core of trust delivery. As customer attitudes about privacy and behaviors shift, enterprise practices and technology must keep up with evolving data privacy threats, compliance requirements and client behaviors. The importance of trust is unlikely to diminish, but delivering trust-inspiring customer experiences requires a culture of design thinking, continuous improvement and security by default.

Bindu Sundaresan

About the Author: Bindu Sundaresan

Practice Lead - Security Solutions, AT&T, Bindu Sundaresan is a Strategic Security Solutions Practice Lead at AT&T. She’s currently responsible for growing the security consulting competencies and integration with the AT&T Services and Product Offerings. Bindu is a security SME (subject matter expert) with the judgment and experience to right-size and customize information security solutions that both accommodate and enable business growth. She has worked to establish enterprise vision, strategies, and programs for Fortune 50 companies to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets – thus protecting and enhancing multimillion/billion-dollar revenue streams.

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