Why trust is important in the digital world

Why trust is important in the digital world

As our lives become more dominated by digital services with many aspects of our day-to-day activities fully controllable by our phones and tablets, the question of trust in our technology providers has become more important. Whether you’re buying groceries, dealing in real estate, seeking health advice, finding life partners or even the security of the houses we live in, everything is digital and remains accessible at the click of a button.

Yet, in spite of the wide range of digital services at our disposal, only a few are widely adopted and these have become the key enablers of our lifestyles. Of course, there are huge numbers of services but only some of these break through to the mass market and have importance beyond a contained special interest group.

So what makes a digital service a mass-market phenomenon? We all tend to have single preferred digital service for every purpose, and we rarely use an alternative for this function. For example, while there might be two or more Ecommerce giants operating in a region, we all have that one main service that we always buy from.

This could be Amazon, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace or Google Shopping, however we tend to prioritise one above the rest. There are multiple platforms that provide cab aggregation services, but we book our cabs from one of them, always. There are also multiple payment services that are popular, but we always have our preference of one of these over the rest. What is it that creates loyalty to a single service for a specific function and can user behaviour be changed?

The immediate answer to why a user prefers one digital service over another could vary from simple reasons such as: it has great design or it was the one first tried. More complex reasons include whether the service has easy compatibility with other downstream processes or allows a wide range of payment methods. However, there is a universal, underlying element that determines what digital services users choose, and that is trust. We typically adopt a product or service because we trust its ability to deliver a great experience. In Ecommerce that means trusting a digital service to do what it says. That involves trusting that your personal data and payment information is secure, trusting the item description is accurate and trusting that the item will be delivered in the timescale stated.

We adopt and then stick with a digital service because we trust it to be secure, we trust it to deliver on its promises and we trust the pricing to be fair. Trust is hard won and easily squandered but the reasons for developing this trust can be numerous. Those digital products and services that are able to create and nurture the necessary trust are the ones that make it big. The rest just continue to exist without moving to the next level. They are adopted by a more modestly-sized group of users that are attracted to specific functionality but still don’t break through into the mass, mainstream market.

Digitalization has changed and continues to transform our lives in many different dimensions, some of which are yet to become clear. A key part of this transformation is the pace at which these changes occur and their impact on businesses as well as consumers and customers.

Developing for the needs of today without enabling a path of continuous innovation is nothing more than a dead end.

Therefore, businesses face the risk of obsolescence if they fail to innovate or adapt and hence there is a need to be ahead of the curve in every aspect of business. Standing still is not an option. This need to lead encompasses technology, business models, strategy, and customer engagement. Against this backdrop, the one aspect that lies at the intersection of all the opportunities, risks and vulnerabilities is trust.

In such scenarios digital trust becomes the key enabler for high quality digital interactions. This is because trust forms the basis upon which the expectations of an entity can be measured and quantified, specifically validating who or what the service claims to be. This trust predicts and assures the digital service will behave in the expected manner within a digital business transaction. Digital trust is therefore viewed as the lifeblood or currency of digital business, and it wraps around every aspect of digital business.