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As enterprises worldwide compete in the race for digital transformation, a new study finds significant gaps between what they are doing now and what they should do to establish leadership and earn customer trust in the future digital ecosystem.

The State of Digital Trust 2022 research report from ISACA found that nearly all respondents (98%) believe digital trust is important and 63% said that digital trust is relevant to their jobs. Yet only 12% reported that their organizations have a dedicated staff role for digital trust.

What is digital trust?

The ISACA, a global professional association, defines digital trust as “the confidence in the integrity of relationships, interactions and transactions among providers and consumers within an associated digital ecosystem.”

Most of the top roles in digital trust rest with tech executives:

  • IT strategy/governance (84%)
  • Security (80%)
  • Information technology (74%)

With many organizations still in the early stages of digital transformation, it’s an ideal time for professionals to step up, gain knowledge, and lead a multi-disciplinary team, the ISACA report said.

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The consequences of a breach in digital trust can be steep

Just one breach of digital trust can cause devastating reputational, regulatory and financial repercussions, the study said. Yet only 66% said their organization currently prioritizes digital trust at a sufficient level.

Survey respondents are aware of the consequences and said that organizations with low levels of digital trust experience:

  • Reputation decline (62%)
  • More privacy breaches (60%)
  • More cybersecurity incidents (59%),
  • Lost customers (56%)
  • Less reliable data for decision-making (53%),
  • Negative impact on revenue (43%)
  • Slower ability to innovate (36%)

Even in an era in which enterprises heavily prioritize metrics and data analytics, only 23% said their organization measures the maturity of its digital trust practices. Those that measure digital trust have two areas in common—their board of directors has prioritized digital trust and they use a digital trust framework, according to the report.

Benefits of digital trust

Enterprises experience a range of key benefits when they prioritize digital trust in their strategic planning. According to respondents, high levels of digital trust lead to:

  • Positive reputation (66%)
  • Fewer privacy breaches (58%)
  • Fewer cybersecurity incidents (57%)
  •  Stronger customer loyalty (55%)
  • Faster innovation (44%)
  • Higher revenue (25%)

SEE: Password breach: Why pop culture and passwords don’t mix (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to remove obstacles and improve digital trust

Enterprises can improve digital trust by prioritizing, planning, and collaborating.  Respondents said the top three components of digital trust are security, data integrity, and privacy, but only half of the respondents agreed that there is sufficient collaboration among professionals in these and other digital trust fields.

According to the ISACA survey, the most significant obstacles to digital trust are:

  • Lack of skills and training (53%)
  • Lack of alignment with enterprise goals (44%)
  • Lack of leadership buy-in (42%), lack of budget (41%)
  • Lack of technological resources (40%)

“Digital trust is a currency that must be backed by a robust validation process,” said Matt Chiodi, chief trust officer for Cerby and a member of ISACA’s Digital Trust Advisory Council, in a statement. “Trust must be earned, which means that in everything an organization does, the end goal must be answering the question, ‘What can we do today to better earn the trust of our customers?’”

The organizations that continually ask this question and make executing the answers a priority will win in market share, profitability, and engagement with both employees and customers, Chiodi added.

Growth opportunities

Even with global efforts such as the Digital Trust Initiative from the World Economic Forum, only 29 % of respondents were extremely or very familiar with the term “digital trust,” the report noted. Further, only 29% offer digital trust training to staff.

This underscores the importance of emphasizing digital trust in the enterprise landscape, the report said. Taking this tactic also presents major opportunities for career growth. Looking ahead, 82% said digital trust will be much more important in their organization and 28% said their organization will likely have a senior staff role dedicated to digital trust in five years, the report said.

Digital trust is also very important to digital transformation for 76% of respondents, who also want tools to help with transformation efforts. Fifty-five percent said that having a digital trust framework would be extremely or very important to their organization.

To help enterprises grow their digital trust capabilities, ISACA is releasing the Digital Trust Ecosystem Framework in the fourth quarter of 2022. The DTEF is a business framework designed for the entire enterprise and focuses on providing critical factors for organizational success by fostering trusted, meaningful, and mutually beneficial relationships, interactions, and transactions. ISACA members can get a preview of the framework before its release in a free webinar on 9/22.

The State of Digital Trust 2022 report features insights from 2,755 business and information technology professionals from around the world.

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