RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Sophisticated technologies are trusted to make or influence decisions with major implications for individuals and society.
  • What does it take to build and maintain trustworthy systems?
  • Organizations can turn to the same qualities that inspire trust in human leaders to make their technology systems more trustworthy.


The importance of trust

We are increasingly dependent on technology to improve how we work and live. But this dependence makes us vulnerable as well, creating an array of challenges including bias and security risks.

To harness the benefits without increasing the risks, we need to develop technology in a way that prioritizes safety and inspires confidence.

The companies that take the lead on trusted technology today are creating a powerful foundation for growth tomorrow. They will secure the best partners, attract the most skilled employees, and ensure the loyalty of their customers.

The question: how do we build this foundation of trust? Leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman analyzed the 360-degree feedback assessments of 87,000 business leaders. They define three key elements that help build a foundation of trust in individual leaders.

1. Positive relationships

Trust depends on a leader’s ability to build relationships with others. The challenge is to bring this sense of fairness and transparency between people to the relationships that people have with technology.

Explainable AI

Explainable AI ensures that decisions come with clear explanations, ensuring we understand why every outcome was created.

Algorithmic fairness

Identifying bias when developing AI is the first step to taking action and preventing unintended consequences.

Humans + Machines collaboration

Technology paired with human ingenuity is more powerful than either alone.

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2. Good judgement and expertise

A trusted leader is an informed leader. Trustworthy systems should be informed on where uncertainty exists and also continue to expand knowledge.

Evaluating algorithmic uncertainty

Every algorithm has a level of uncertainty in its outputs, and taking this into account can reduce risk and improve outcomes

Designing for continued learning

Just as humans never stop learning, technology systems can be designed to expand both their knowledge and performance

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3. Consistency

Trustworthy leaders “walk the talk” and keep their promises. People also expect technology to perform as expected to ensure privacy and security.

Robust and resilient

Technology systems must do what organizations say they will do even when they’re under attack.

Private and secure

A trustworthy system manages data in a way that customers expect and understand.

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For organizations looking to establish trustworthy technology systems, that means providing clear explanations about how decisions are made; assessing and addressing the fairness of the technology solutions they use; and finding the right balance between humans and technology solutions.

Organizations must understand and take into account the uncertainty around the decisions and outcomes of their technology systems. They must also design systems to continue to learn and expand their knowledge bases.

Companies should ensure that their systems perform as intended even when under attack. They must keep their commitments to safeguard information, maintaining data privacy and data security.

With how pervasive technology has become in business, companies can only be successful if people have confidence in the technology systems they use.

The path forward for building trust

The accelerating pace of technological change is marked by both promise and peril. Acting now to identify and mitigate the risks will position businesses to earn and keep the trust of partners, customers, employees, and society.

With this trust comes great responsibility, but also a great opportunity – as trust triggers the loyalty and engagement that will drive business innovation and growth today and in the years to come.

Medb Corcoran

Managing Director – Accenture Labs, Global Responsible AI Lead for Technology Innovation


Ray Eitel-Porter

Managing Director – Applied Intelligence, Global Lead for Responsible AI

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