Last year saw a number of high-profile data breaches involving companies such as British Airways and Marriot.

The latter was one of the biggest breaches of the year, exposing the data of almost 400 million people. Not only did this event propel the brand into the news and compromise sensitive data but it also challenged customers’ trust.

Customers or users put a great deal of trust into organisations, giving them access to sensitive information on the understanding that it will be protected thanks to compliance. At the heart of this process are developers who are creating the solutions to safeguard against these data breaches.

When developers create a new technology solution it is, of course, critically important that it is compliant with the law – but simple compliance is not always enough. Developers also need to ask themselves the question – do our users trust us?

The components of trust

Trust is certainly a complex concept. There are generally two elements to it: subjective and objective. Often, there is little that developers can do to impact the first element – personal feelings, tastes or opinions may well weigh on the level of trust experienced and shown.

However, developers can address the objective nature of trust. Typically, the objectivity of trust is made up of three different components – risk, reliance and results. By addressing each one, in turn, it is possible for developers to gain the user’s trust in a solution and, more broadly, a brand.

For the user, the decision to adopt a new solution makes them vulnerable to risk. When weighing up whether to trust a solution, users will look at the potential risks it poses and ask questions such as how will the solution work and will I be better off in the end? Before deciding whether a particular solution is to be trusted, users first need to mitigate any risks to their business.

In terms of reliance, the user needs to be able to rely on the developer to do whatever is necessary to achieve results. Looking at results, the main issue is that it’s such an unknown factor and asks the user to be dependent on the developer to commit to the project and deliver the desired outcomes. When looking at the components of trust in this way, it’s clear to see that organisations must find a way to address each and win both the customer’s trust and loyalty.

Transparency, accountability and governance

Initially, developers must address the idea of risk by being transparent about what they can provide, how it will work and why they will take a certain approach. In technology, it is vital for solution providers to adopt a culture of transparency and to be able to explain everything in a clear, understandable and approachable way.

Developers must also make themselves accountable for the project and demonstrate how they will fulfil their duties and promises by providing users with proof of previous outcomes and their expertise. By adopting the idea of accountability, developers are showing they will be held responsible for the outcomes and should be relied upon to deliver the results needed.

To address the idea of results, developers should use the tool of governance. In other words, developers should show users the processes they have set out and the path they will take to achieve results. In order to win over the trust of the user at this stage, developers must make sure that the journey is no longer an unknown for the user. This should help the user to feel confident that the steps taken will lead to their intended outcome.

Developers and businesses must use the tools of transparency, accountability and governance to go beyond just having consent or meeting the basic legal requirements of compliance and foster a trusting relationship with their users. Customers need to have confidence in the solutions they are using and to ‘know’ that they can to trust the company to deliver results. With a fresh approach to developing trust, organisations can instil a sense of loyalty and faith in their brand and products.

Trust is fundamental to the success of any organization. For patients, customers, employees, and other stakeholders, privacy and security are key elements of trust. At InterSystems, Global Trust means meeting or exceeding legal and regulatory requirements for privacy and security anywhere in the world.


Ken Mortensen

Data Protection Officer Global Trust and Privacy, InterSystems. As an attorney and engineer, Ken Mortensen is a privacy and security professional with over 20 years of legal and over 30 years of IT experience. Based in Cambridge, Mass., Ken currently leads Global Trust and Privacy at InterSystems as the Data Protection Officer. He works globally across the company to enhance information privacy, governance, and cyber risk processes. Before InterSystems, Ken served in a number of chief privacy and security roles at PwC, CVS Health, and Boston Scientific.

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