Skip to content

Davos 2019: How to build digital trust

Greg Unsworth
Greg Unsworth
Risk Assurance and Digital Business Leader, PwC Singapore

With Davos 2019 focused on the theme of globalization, the 'Global Markets Forum: Future is now' blog series attempts to untangle some of these challenges. Greg Unsworth who leads the Digital Business at PwC Singapore outlines the challenges of digital transformation and what businesses must do to build digital trust.

  1. A global survey of 3,000 business leaders by PwC highlights the best ways to build digital trust, with workforce awareness of cyber security one of three key areas.
  2. Organizations that commit to building and demonstrating new trust mechanisms in support of their digital ecosystems will be best placed for future success.
  3. For more WEF coverage, join the Global Markets Forum on Eikon Messenger or access the Davos App in Eikon.

As the new world of digital continues to take shape, governments around the world are stepping up efforts to lay the groundwork needed for a secure digital future for their citizens.

Companies, meanwhile, are gearing up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and embracing new business models enabled by technological advancements and the platform economy.

In the Asia Pacific region, for example, the speed of this digital transformation continues to accelerate. Based on PwC’s 2018 APEC CEO Survey, automation emerged as a top priority among business leaders as they prepare for the digital future.

Beyond using technology to drive productivity, organizations are seeking to optimize the value of their data assets and take advantage of emerging technologies in pursuit of potential growth.

While opportunities for value creation through digital technologies abound, the risks and challenges are very real.

Should these not be well understood or managed, it hinders the pace of innovation and adoption. It is in this environment that businesses who are able to build digital trust will be best positioned to innovate and create real competitive advantage.

But, how do organizations begin that journey?

Companies, regulators and consumers need new mechanisms to build confidence as they address emerging challenges in business, risk management and compliance.

PwC recently undertook its inaugural Digital Trust Insights survey, seeking the views of over 3,000 business leaders globally on what it takes to develop the level of confidence in people, processes and technology to build a secure digital world.

Watch: Digital Trust Insights

The following key themes emerged from the study:

1. The transformation starts with people

Companies globally are investing in digital transformation projects by using emerging technology to solve problems and accelerate business performance.

There is no doubt that the sprawling connectivity among personal devices, governments, businesses and even smart household appliances is fueling exponential growth in cyber and other digital risks.

It is therefore vital to include cyber security and digital technology specialists in digital transformation projects from the start, whilst evaluating whether they have their skills aligned to design, build and sustain these initiatives.

Building the right team and talent within any organization is also essential. However, key roles such as chief information security officer, chief privacy officer or chief risk officer, are surprisingly absent in many organizations.

Leading digital organizations are establishing corporate policies governing access to IT assets and data, and enforcing these policies at all levels of the organization. However, it is often human behavior and error that brings about the greatest risk to organizations.

Therefore, raising workforce awareness and accountability around cyber security and other digital risks is also paramount.

Davos 2019: How to build digital trust

2. Trust in operational processes and governance

Organizations can make progress by embedding security and risk management assessment protocols into their business operations, including new product and service development.

It is prudent to implement data governance programs that determine where the sensitive data is stored, the value to the business and how to protect it.

Considerations for data risks need to span the entire data lifecycle, from the creation through to storage, usage, sharing, archiving and the destruction of data.

Another crucial factor is boosting cyber resilience in both defence and recovery capabilities, with the development and assessment of plans to address risk appetite concerns as the threat landscape evolves.

This would include the constant monitoring of technology infrastructure to enable high availability, disaster recovery, and data integrity, as well as undertaking cyber intelligence and insider threat programs to enable better security assessments and to support related investment decisions.

Effective risk assessment, monitoring and management is essential for any organization.

Start with measures and metrics that address the needs of stakeholders and convey how external factors — threats, third-party risk and regulations — affect overall risk posture and effectiveness of risk reduction activities.

3. Keep pace with innovation

Explosive growth in technology and data over the next decade will obliterate barriers between the cyber, physical, and virtual worlds. Digital data and devices embedded in critical infrastructure, consumer products, vehicles, daily life and even in humans will soon be widespread.

Yet, only 39 percent of executives we spoke to say they are very confident that they are building sufficient “digital trust” controls — security, privacy and data ethics — into their adoption of Internet of Things (IoT), for instance.

Survey respondents have even less confidence in the sufficiency of their digital trust controls for other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Increasingly, organizations will have to prioritize the development of digital trust controls and security budgets to support business investments and objectives around IoT, AI and other emerging technologies.

At PwC, we believe companies that commit to building and demonstrating new trust mechanisms to support digital ecosystems and enabling confidence will be well placed for future success.

Addressing the three themes described above in a holistic fashion is a good way to begin the journey to develop digital trust.

It requires investment, commitment, and leadership but it is a journey worth taking.

Watch: Refinitiv leads the fight against financial crime at Davos 2019

Get more Davos 2019 coverage

From 22-25 January, join the Global Markets Forum as our Reuters editors bring you unparalleled live coverage, exclusive Live Chats and latest developments from the World Economic Forum.

See our full schedule of this year’s guest chats. If you are already an Eikon subscriber or have an Eikon Messenger standalone account, simply request GMF access.

Don’t have Eikon Messenger? Sign up, it’s free. Registration is easy and takes only two minutes to complete.

The Davos 2019 App in Eikon. Davos 2019: How to build digital trust
The Davos 2019 App in Eikon

Eikon users will also be able to access exclusive coverage and top stories from Reuters as well as streaming video content available in our [DAVOS] App.

Don’t have Eikon? Register for a free trial.

Davos 2019: How to build digital trust