Raju Chellam Article contributed by:
Raju Chellam
Advanced Computing for Executives
This article was first published in SGTech’s TransformLife.sg website.
Digital trust is quite hard to find,
With scams and hacks of every kind,
We type in our info,
Hoping it won’t go,
To some cybercriminal’s bind.

If that limerick made you smile, these statistics should make you scowl: Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer showed that between 2012 and 2021, global trust in the tech sector dropped from 77% to 68%. The public has become increasingly suspicious of tech, with misinformation, personal privacy, 5G networks, and AI bias topping the list of worries.

“The loss of digital trust suggests many people are worried about the role technology plays in their lives currently,” the World Economic Forum noted in November 2021. “This is especially relevant when millions of people around the world have shifted to online learning, telemedicine, remote work, and e-commerce to counter the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.”

Trust in Transparency
The advent of AI has complicated the issue. Up to 60% of consumers think companies care more about profiting from their data than protecting it. However, 70% of consumers are confident that the companies they buy products and services from are protecting their data. That’s the view from McKinsey & Company, which polled 1,300 business leaders and 3,000 consumers worldwide.

This data suggests that most consumers believe that the businesses they interact with are being transparent—at least about their AI and data privacy policies. About 67% of consumers have confidence in their ability to find information about company data privacy policies; about 55% are confident that they can elaborate on their company’s AI policies.

Consumer faith in cybersecurity, data privacy, and responsible AI hinges on what companies do today. Establishing this digital trust just might lead to a more robust business growth. It is pertinent to note that more than half of respondents said they often or always make online purchases or use digital services from a company only after making sure that the company has a reputation for being trustworthy with its customers’ data.

“The research indicates that organisations that are best positioned to build digital trust are also more likely than others to see annual growth rates of at least 10% on their top and bottom lines,” McKinsey noted. “However, only a small contingent of companies surveyed looks likely to deliver on this.”

Virtuous Dozen
How can companies foster a culture of digital trust within and outside the organisation? Here are a dozen suggestions (in alphabetical order):

  • Audit regularly, especially in cybersecurity and sustainability. This will identify vulnerabilities and improve security and eco-friendly measures, which could boost your digital trust metrics.
  • Build transparency about how customer data is collected, used, and protected. Ensure that the company’s privacy policy is easy to find and simple to understand for your end-users.
  • Communicate privacy policies, data protection measures, and security practices. Your end-users and customers may then feel confident and reassured that their privacy is in good hands.
  • Deploy third-party certifications (such as SSL) and standards (as advised by the IT Standards Committee in Singapore) that attest to your security and data protection practices.
  • Encourage customer feedback and take any concerns or complaints seriously. This will you’re your end-users and customers that their feedback matters and is actioned upon.
  • Foster data protection and emphasise the importance of securing sensitive data among your employees and stakeholders. Internal breaches are as or more crucial than external ones.
  • Generate a culture of trust within the organisation and prioritise trust as a core value. This will prompt employees to follow best practices and be mindful of security and privacy.
  • Handle customer data ethically and responsibly. Avoid using customer or end-user information in ways that could harm or manipulate customers.
  • Implement strong security measures internally. Employees must be forced to implement strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, encryption, and other security measures to keep data safe.
  • Join community associations like SGTech, SCS (Singapore Computer Society), and others to engage with peers, influencers, and thought-leaders to keep abreast of the latest developments.
  • Keep software and systems current, especially with the latest security patches and updates. This will help minimise the risk of cyberattacks and prod you to take mitigation measures.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Take responsibility when things go wrong and work to rapidly rectify the situation. This can help build trust by demonstrating a commitment to accountability.


In today’s AI age, the traditional model of information security is being challenged. While integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information have long been the top priorities, the growing integration of AI into physical spaces (such as self-driving cars, facial recognition systems, healthcare, etc) has resulted in prioritising human safety. With digital breaches capable of causing harm, businesses need to place more emphasis on protecting both individuals and environments. Consider enrolling in specialised AI courses on explainability and ethics at NUS ACE.

Since I started this article with a limerick on digital trust, let me end it with another:

This company’s tagline was previously, “Trust Me”,
But its digital space was hard to guarantee.
It was hacked and attacked,
And it left users feeling whacked.
Now their slogan is just, “Please Try & See”.