Mind the (trust) gap: winning back confidence with data management

By Jean-Michel Franco
Jean-Michel Franco, Senior Director of Data Governance, Talend, highlights the importance of ensuring trust and transparency through data management. I...

Jean-Michel Franco, Senior Director of Data Governance, Talend, highlights the importance of ensuring trust and transparency through data management.

In the age of fake news, targeted data breaches and covert facial recognition trials, society is facing a crisis of confidence. Consumers are skeptical of what they read and hear because they have been misled time and time again. What’s more, alternative realities are blurring lines between what is real and what is fiction further compounding confidence woes. To make matters worse, consumers are all too aware of the accusations regarding both illegal and immoral data sharing by some much-familiar companies. 

This gap in trust has manifested itself globally in political demonstrations, brand boycotts and other displays of resistance. It has also brought about new regulations, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which have been implemented to safeguard consumers. With consumer distrust in companies at an all-time high, businesses – big and small – must tread carefully. A lack of trust can lead to unease, which will eventually lead to a withdrawal of business. 

Yet, according to research from Gartner, the acceleration of digital technologies will likely widen the trust gap. By 2021, the creation of counterfeit information derived from artificial intelligence (AI) will surpass AI's ability to detect them. By 2022, most individuals living in developed economies will consume more distorted information than reliable information. This will reinforce a sense of digital mistrust.

To bridge this trust gap and re-build consumer confidence, companies must bring their most genuine selves to the table. Whether it’s an advertising campaign or a sales pitch, companies must be as honest and straightforward as possible to cut through the noise of the political climate and assure customers of their intentions. Sincerity is a key component in addressing confidence concerns from customers. This sincerity extends into a genuine willingness and transparency in complying with data trust regulations.

Yet, rather than focusing solely on how to communicate transparency, businesses must take a closer look at their overall data management strategies– reevaluating and revamping processes where needed. Without quality data, which is accurate, categorized and protected, companies simply will not be able to achieve the level of transparency needed to win back confidence.  

Remedy relationships with enthusiasm for trusted data and compliance 

One of the keys to building trust and creating transparency is through data management. Data is the currency of the digital marketplace and an extremely valuable corporate resource that helps define how organisations interact with the outside world.

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To succeed in building trust, companies need to take new steps to control their data and ensure transparency, and openness. The problem is, it is increasingly difficult to create trust in a world where data is accelerating at a speed that traditional companies cannot keep up with.  

A recent Talend report highlighted a significant perception gap between senior IT leaders and operational data workers when it comes to trusted data. In the UK, while 45% of senior IT leaders surveyed felt confident that their organisation’s data assets were accurate, complete and up to date, only 19% of operational data workers felt the same.  

Businesses must learn to make trust a core part of their data management strategies. Only then can these companies achieve the level of data integrity needed in today’s digital economy to deliver transparency and openness to customers.  

These same companies must also learn to embrace data regulations to inspire the reevaluation and revamp of data processes, rather than viewing them as constraints. GDPR, and other local legislations like it, are intended to remind organisations to respect and protect those who consume their services and products. This should encourage businesses to reclaim a sense of responsibility and accountability and offer a level of transparency previously thought impossible.  

With that said, the digital platforms that companies deploy need to be able to collect data at scale and create a single point of trust where the data can be quality proofed, categorised, and protected. Not only this, but they must support the integration, sharing, discovery, and governance so that companies can track and trace their data.  

However, success does not come from simply implementing the ‘right’ tools. Instead, businesses must empower people to drive real cultural change internally, ensuring all employees are accountable for data quality, security, and use. For this, companies must support the concept of having “whistleblowers,” people who can sound the alarm when something is not right with their processes, for example. This will help to further foster transparency –  and therefore, generate greater trust.

Consumers are demanding more transparency, accuracy, and accountability from companies – especially regarding how their data is used. Those that fail to act on this waning consumer confidence, risk losing customers and revenue. Instead, companies must demonstrate their sincere dedication to compliance and their commitment to transparency to win back confidence and shake today’s trust landscape. 

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