Building sufficient digital value and trust


Value is the regard that something deserves importance, worth, or usefulness. It is also the principles or standards of behaviour—individual or collective. In ethics, value denotes the degree of importance of something or action, to determine what actions are best to do or what way is best to live or to describe the significance of different actions. It is also the monetary or non-monetary worth given to virtual assets or contents.

Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Trust is the most important business and brand asset you manage, especially in relationships with customers, clients, employees, and stakeholders. An economy works because people trust each other and the businesses they support.

Companies everywhere are pursuing digitalization projects—putting emerging technology into action while aiming to solve problems, create unique experiences, and accelerate business performance. By doing this, value and trust must be created.

Digital value is the business value or economic value generated through digitization. All economic systems and business interactions result in costs for information exchange, coordination, safeguarding, enforcing, etc. Digitalization lowers these costs and therefore gives a free rein to value and is expected to bring greater tangible and intangible value. In a traditional sense, digitalization refers to the use of computer and internet technology for a more efficient and effective economic value creation process. In a broader sense, it refers to the changes that new technology has overall; on how we operate, interact, and configure, and how wealth is created within this system. It has become clear by now that digitalization has an obvious, lasting, and even revolutionary impact, not only on the economic systems and commercial players but increasingly on the lives of individuals and on society at large. However, it is important to understand the opportunities and potential challenges surrounding value creation in digital environments.

Digital value constitutes worthiness desired based on the use of digital information and communication technology, resulting in goods and services that possess some inherent quality.

Digital trust then is the confidence users have in the ability of people, technology, and processes to create a secure digital world. Digital trust is given to companies who have shown their users they can provide safety, privacy, security, reliability, and data ethics with their online programs or devices.

For example, Amazon has created value over the years and built trust. Since its beginnings in 1994 as an e-commerce pioneer selling books and CDs online, Amazon has had to continually transform itself to grow. It is the world’s largest online retailer of books, clothing, electronics, music, and other goods, developing in new business areas, and, in 2020, earned net sales revenue of over 380 billion U.S. dollars. Despite selling physical books, Amazon also introduced the Kindle and eBooks. In addition, it is threatening other businesses like Netflix and TV networks with its own content. Also, it became a leader in cloud services and hugely profitable in this field. Amazon Web Services (AWS) generates annual revenues and margins in excess. Due to global interest in cloud services and the disruption they are causing across various sectors, AWS has played an increasingly important role in the cloud services industry and has become an important revenue earner for Amazon. With its trusted and secure solutions, customers can rely on its services.

Digital trust has already become critical to how you develop and maintain positive, long-term relationships with your customers and other stakeholders. Building digital trust requires businesses to shift their efforts in identity, security, and compliance to a more inclusive customer engagement strategy. If the lifeblood of the digital economy is data, its heart is digital trust—the level of confidence in people, processes, and technology to build a secure digital world.

Companies that show the connected world how to lead in safety, security, reliability, privacy, and data ethics will be the titans of tomorrow (2018 Digital Trust Insights). When a person decides to use a company’s product, they are confirming their digital trust in the business. The more digital trust a company receives, the more likely it will be to gain more users. Trust underpins the success of every business, traditional or new age.

Each transaction and interaction on a personal, societal, and business level requires the establishment of trust. Businesses should make it clear to users what they stand to gain from their services and products, or technologies, by addressing what people are alarmed about, and emphasizing what people are giving up.

Businesses should also focus on removing risk because it negatively affects a consumer’s confidence level. As some businesses have started including cybersecurity and privacy personnel in their development process from the beginning, instead of ignoring them, it helps ensure the company is not avoiding security measures just to get their service or device on the market.

Some businesses have also started adopting the zero-trust model which decreases the number of opportunities a hacker has to access secure content by limiting who has privileged access to different machines or segments of the network.

As businesses strive to grow and create value through digitalization, it is relevant to consider building sufficient digital trust controls. There should be a deliberate effort to evaluate whether their personnel have the right skills aligned to design, build, and sustain digitalization initiatives, and if there is the need, acquire external resources.

Tie security and trust in business the right way, in order not to misalign business objectives. For instance, companies can make progress by focusing on embedding data security into new products and services; conducting risk, regulatory, and compliance assessment; refreshing cybersecurity controls and plans; implement data-governance programs that determine not only where sensitive data lives but also the value to the business and how to protect it; manage risks for the whole data lifecycle, including creation, storage, using, sharing, archiving, and destruction.

Also, monitoring of technology infrastructure to enable high availability, disaster recovery, and data integrity; focus on identifying new and emerging legislation, rules, and implementation guidelines; as well as use an integrated compliance approach—businesses operating across different jurisdictions should comply with the highest standard.

The author is the Director of Operations, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)

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