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How trust can make or break competitiveness

Trust is vital in creating and destroying value—companies seeking digital transformation cannot afford to ignore it.


In a digital world where identities can be stolen, terrorism incited and secure bank accounts raided, trust has become the new currency. Trust can make or break relationships, dictate consumer opinion and influence how society operates. For organizations looking to redefine competitiveness in a digitally disrupted world, underestimating the role of trust is like playing Russian roulette with your business—the reputational risks can be devastating.

Why are the trust stakes so high today?

  1. Digital transformation demands responsible business conduct, especially around the use of personal data.

  2. Digital disruption unsettles society, raising deep concerns about its negative impact on jobs, wages and security.

  3. A rise in collaborative business models puts trust at the heart of customer interactions.

Failure to address these three trends not only limits the potential benefits of digital transformation for both industry and society, but also could eliminate businesses altogether. 


Key Findings

Business leaders need to assess, quantify and communicate the impact of their trust-building activities:

  • Value data ethics: As companies compete on managing the customer experience, failure to adapt to customer concerns around the ethical use of data can increase costs and limit access to new revenue streams. Companies must recognize that trust-building approaches to personal data can drive business value.

  • Show-and-tell societal benefits: There is a huge opportunity for businesses to quantify and articulate the impact of digital technologies’ use on society. Doing so can help protect their future license to operate, while offering new ways to align societal objectives with market forces.

  • Protect trust-based business models: Trust is an essential component of many trends in the digital marketplace—from ubiquitous data transfer, to the sharing economy and the platform economy. There is significant value at stake; addressing concerns around trust and data sharing are critical to realizing that value.


With the risks and opportunities of digital trust carrying such significant financial weight, no competitive company can afford to ignore it. Businesses can secure the benefits of digital transformation if they: 

  • Activate the trust detector: Quantify the potential value of digital initiatives to society as well as industry, identifying where incentives are misaligned and where stakeholders need to be proactively engaged.

  • Bake in trust transparency: Make trust-building the bedrock for how companies use digital technologies across people, products, and processes, with better training and support helping to navigate some of the ethical questions raised by digital technologies.

  • Champion trust accountability: By tackling the disruptive elements of digital technologies head-on, business leaders can help restore trust and engage a wide range of stakeholders in that process.

By introducing trust-building initiatives that realign competitiveness, business leaders can help gain value for their organizations and society at large.


Peter Lacy Peter Lacy
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Sustainability
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Tim Cooper Tim Cooper
           Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy       
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