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Wednesday, 18 January 2023 12:34

Digital Trust now critical for maintaining customer loyalty

By Avesta Hojjati
Avesta Hojjati, VP of Engineering at DigiCert Avesta Hojjati, VP of Engineering at DigiCert

GUEST OPINION: Digital trust is what gives businesses and users the confidence to engage in a connected world, knowing that their interactions will remain secure. Digital trust provides freedom to engage with the digital world without worrying about your data or information being compromised.

DigiCert’s State of Digital Trust Survey for 2022 shows customers are ready to change their loyalties if trust is broken.

The challenge of data safety has been laid bare in 2022. Breaches at major Australian telecommunications and health insurance firms have demonstrated how vulnerable every business can be, raising big questions once again about the need for extreme vigilance in the fight to maintain digital trust.

The DigiCert 2022 State of Digital Trust survey explores the latest thinking on how enterprises, employees and consumers around the world have progressed in their embrace of digital trust. The survey of hundreds of enterprises and consumers, selected for diversity of views and perspectives, shows how questions of digital trust now form part of key decisions around which businesses and consumers will choose to work with.

Growing Data, Growing Threats

The growth in data increases at an incredible rate. In the 70 years to 2021, the world amassed 97 Zettabytes of data. By 2025 it is expected we will almost double that, resulting in 20,000 Gigabytes of data for every person on Earth.

Critically, it is how much of this data contains personally identifiable information (PII) that has become such a key question in the battle for digital trust. As recent breaches have shown, we need to trust some companies with deeply personal data around health and finances – and in the event of a breach, there is no remedy for this loss of privacy.

For the new hybrid era, every enterprise has an increased attack surface that makes it harder than ever to manage network security. There is no edge to protect anymore, making proactive protective action for every device, every cloud and every sensor an essential part of maintaining digital trust.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre annual report declares the digital world is now “a battleground”, with 76,000 cybercrime reports received in the year to June 2022 – a 13% increase. Average costs per cybercrime report were over $39,000 for small business, $88,000 for medium business, and over $62,000 for large business.

Verdict: Loyalty and Trust Go Hand in Hand

The DigiCert 2022 State of Digital Trust survey shows universal agreement on the importance of digital trust. 100% of enterprises say digital trust is important, with 90% saying it is extremely important. 99% of enterprises believe it is possible that customers would switch to competitors if they lost trust, with 47% feeling this outcome would be likely.

Enterprise employees also 100% agree on the importance of digital trust, with 99% saying they would consider switching vendors if they lost trust in their products or services.

While consumers were less universal, still more than two-thirds of consumer respondents (68%) feel digital trust is important. But almost half (47%) say they have stopped doing business with a company that lost their trust in the past. The wealthier the consumer, the more likely their feeling that digital trust is important – 58% of above-average income consumers feel digital trust is extremely important. Looking ahead, 84% of consumers say they would consider switching their business if they lose digital trust.

Analysis: What Sets Enterprise Leaders Apart

In asking enterprises across the world where their digital trust priorities and investments were focused, we found their top goals and challenges aligned closely with these questions of customer loyalty. Companies were typically one to two years into their digital trust journey, with all agreeing customer loyalty was an important goal.

The biggest challenges in achieving trust goals related to managing certificate lifecycles, achieving regulatory compliance, the massive scope of protection required, the complexity of security needs, and a lack of staff expertise in the right areas.

At a practical level, only three technical initiatives see more than 50% of companies achieving full implementation: device identity and operations security (74%), Zero Trust policy (58%), and certificate lifecycle management (55%).

When separating the top third of organisations from the middle and bottom third, some interesting trends emerge as to what sets their priorities apart. We found the top-tier of organisations were typically further along in their digital trust journey and had started much earlier, which in turn showed they took threats and safeguards more seriously than other enterprise organisations.

Our analysis of responses found that top-tier organisations versus bottom-tier were:

  • 5x as likely to believe losing customer trust will lead to lost customers
  • 0x better at managing ecommerce website performance and availability
  • 0x more likely to be engaged with implementing PKI
  • 9x better at prevention of phishing or other email-based attacks
  • 4x more likely to be using zero trust policies
  • 3x more concerned about social engineering attacks
  • 2x more concerned about spyware
  • 1x more likely to be engaged with PKI automation

Top-tier organisations also overwhelmingly say that the CIO should run digital trust, whereas the bottom tier believe it should sit within security operations. We feel this is an acknowledgement that leading organisations see that the CIO’s visibility into the broader technology footprint of an organisation is important to success in digital trust strategy.

DigiCert Advice For 2023

DigiCert, the leading global provider of digital trust, enables individuals and businesses to engage online with confidence. Reflecting on the results of this year’s State of Digital Trust survey, we see some key takeaways for those eager to emulate the success of leading organisations.

Make digital trust a strategic imperative: A clear differentiator with top-tier enterprises was recognising the importance of digital trust in achieving business outcomes for brand, customer loyalty, revenue and margins. Establishing a Digital Trust Office can help drive this mission, as well as better clarity on the importance of digital trust to B2B and B2C customers.

Enlist expert help: A lack of staff expertise does not have to be an impediment to success. Finding a partner that can deliver unified trust management for your organisation can give you the tools you need to move forward.

Establish clear lines of digital trust communication: Customers care deeply about digital trust. Explaining not only your commitment to digital trust but also your progress on achieving it will grow their confidence and their brand loyalty.

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