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Digital trust can make or break an organization says a new report from ISACA; it can be the difference between retaining reputations and customer loyalty after a major incident or suffering serious, time-consuming and expensive losses.

According to ISACA’s new State of Digital Trust 2023 report, 76 percent of people surveyed for the report say that digital trust is important to digital transformation, but they also report worrisome gaps in several strategic areas including leadership support and staff skills/training.

Organizations with high levels of digital trust can gain tangible benefits and positive business results. The top benefits reported in the 2023 survey are:

  • Positive reputation (67 percent)
  • More reliable data for decision-making (57 percent)
  • Fewer privacy breaches (56 percent)
  • Fewer cyber security incidents (56 percent)
  • Stronger customer loyalty (55 percent)
  • Faster innovation due to confidence in their technology and systems (42 percent)
  • Higher revenue (27 percent).

Even with these stated benefits and with 81 percent agreeing that demonstrating a commitment to digital trust will ultimately make organizations more successful, only 13 percent have a dedicated digital trust staff role and only 19 percent say their board of directors has made digital trust a priority.

67 percent of respondents say measuring the maturity of digital trust practices is extremely or very important, yet 29 percent do not measure digital trust at all. Still, this is an improvement from the 2022 report, which found that 33 percent did not measure digital trust.

Measurement is a significant differentiator and leadership is driving this, as 38 percent of those that measure digital trust have a dedicated staff role and 46 percent of those with a board that prioritizes digital trust have a staff role. Approximately half (53 percent) are confident in the digital trustworthiness of their organization, but this jumps to 81 percent among those that measure digital trust maturity.

Taking a holistic approach can help reduce obstacles and reap benefits

Security, risk, data integrity, privacy, governance, quality, and assurance are listed among the many key components of digital trust, but the survey shows that a unified effort among these, often siloed, areas is lacking. Only half (51 percent) say there is sufficient collaboration among these fields.

Just under one quarter (24 percent) are planning to increase budgets for digital trust activities, indicating that digital trust can be implemented as an umbrella approach that encourages existing individual areas to work as a cohesive whole in the most cost-effective way.

Barriers that need to be addressed

The top obstacles to attaining high levels of digital trust are lack of skills/training (52 percent), lack of leadership buy-in (42 percent), lack of alignment of digital trust and enterprise goals (42 percent), lack of budget (41 percent), digital trust not seen as a priority (38 percent) and lack of technological resources (38 percent).

On a positive note, an improvement in ‘lack of skills and training’ over the previous year’s survey indicates a gradual increased understanding of the value of digital trust. In 2023, 32 percent offer digital trust training to staff (29 percent in 2022), 31 percent understand how their job role contributes to digital trust (28 percent in 2022), and 66 percent say digital trust is relevant to their job (63 percent in 2022). This is trending in a good direction, but it should be accelerated, says the report.

Who takes esponsibility for digital trust?

Survey respondents did not name one specific job title or role responsible for driving digital trust for every organization, mainly because each enterprise has its own culture, structure and goals. However, they noted that either the board of directors or senior leadership have ultimate responsibility at their organization. Despite this, only 19 percent say the board of directors has made digital trust a priority. One third (34 percent) say that senior leadership team is responsible. Although in the current landscape, a Chief Digital Trust Officer (or similar) exists at some forward-thinking organizations, the survey found that only 13 percent have a staff position dedicated to digital trust.

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