Staff Writer
IBM 2017
How To Build Trust Amid Digital Transformation

“Trust is a fundamental issue at the centre of business success,” says Dan Bieler, principal analyst at Forrester, in the opening session at the IBM Z conference in Singapore. “Without it, you will really struggle to get through the digital transformation process. It’s not a soft issue, it’s very much a hard issue.”

“A customer experience doesn’t come out of the blue,” says Bieler. “It’s in relation to the expectations we have.” These expectations are constantly changing and being informed by what our experiences have been like previously. In the digital age, “experiences and expectations need to match.”

Security technology has to be a priority; it’s essential to building trust, especially with cyber-attacks becoming both more frequent and more sophisticated. This is where verification of data comes in; old-school “trust and verify” approach is no longer sufficient, as demonstrated by the recent rise in data breaches. Relationships are extending beyond partners and suppliers, negating the idea of a corporate perimeter. “It’s much more sensible to treat everybody equally, both internally and externally,” says Bieler. “Blockchain will be an important part of facilitating transformation; it’s a way to track assets and who is accessing them.”

There are already trusted systems out there that are driving evolution of insights, backed up by security on an industrial scale. Companies like GE are tracking and monitoring the performance of aircraft engines, which essentially enables them to pivot to selling “power by the hour.” Similarly, Siemens is selling arrival times of its trains in Spain.

In addition to new technologies and data capability, new kinds of relationships will be crucial to digital transformation. “Traditional linear value chains are breaking down and being replaced gradually by ecosystems which put the customer at the centre of attention,” says Bieler. “Relationships built on bilateral trust models are no longer manageable.”

With the rules of trust being rewritten, it’s necessary for companies to rethink their values and culture, says Bieler. He highlights four areas all businesses should be focusing on in their digital transformation:

  1. Transparency. Oversight of what data is collected, for what purpose, and who is allowed to analyse it.
  2. Quality. Can you deliver high quality products and services? This sounds incredibly obvious, but under-delivering is not an option in the “expectation = experience” paradigm.
  3. Collaboration. Mutually beneficial partnerships are more important than ever before, as we see divisions between a business and its partners, suppliers and customers all break down.
  4. Accountability. It is critical, says Bieler, that we hold people and companies accountable for what they deliver in a digital context.

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