Data has no value. Trust does.

The evolution of trust in the digital environment

The amount of user data stored by companies is growing constantly and exponentially. With connected devices, constant online activity, and information just a click away, the business opportunities are limitless.

But the risks have also increased, especially with regard to personal data theft and identity fraud. Year after year, the volume and severity of data compromising events continue to grow. The number of records exposed due to data breaches rose by 305% in the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, and attacks on databases were the worst to date.

In this new context, security has become a key concern for users. Having an image as a lasting, resilient company is not as important as it once was—although it is still an influential factor, especially for younger users. Rather, people need to be able to trust that the company in question collects, stores, and uses their data in a secure way.

If this sense of trust exists, users are more likely to entrust their information to, purchase products and services from, and, ultimately, establish a long-term relationship with that company.

What builds trust?

According to the study Digital Trust in the IoT era by Accenture, people prefer to place their trust in established brands, especially in the telecoms and commercial banking sectors.

This is just a first step, but it’s a good starting point. However, the data shows that older users have more confidence in traditional companies, and trust digital channels less. On the other hand, younger generations, such as millennials, trust digital channels, but do not feel an affinity for large corporations.

Accenture believes that there are four factors that enable digital trust to be built: security, privacy and data control, responsibility, and benefit. In other words, users are more likely to provide their data to and engage online with a particular company if they are confident that their data will be secure, if they perceive that they will gain something in return for entrusting it to that company, and if they believe that the company will take responsibility in the case of a potential data breach.

Trust will define future relationships between users and companies, and it will become the new digital currency. This will allow the vast amount of available information to be monetized, but without the user’s trust, it will lose its value.