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The Trust Gap: Companies value digital trust but little progress is being made to implement it

76% of professionals believe digital trust is relevant to their organisations, yet gaps in strategies persist

As organisations pursue digital transformation, they urgently need to prioritise digital trust to achieve their goals and prepare for future market opportunities, legislation, and regulatory compliance. New research from ISACA, the leading global professional association helping individuals and organisations in their pursuit of digital trust, reveals critical gaps in organisational strategies regarding digital trust.

The ISACA State of Digital Trust 2024 report finds that 77% of respondents agree that digital trust is crucial to digital transformation and 82% say digital trust will grow in importance over the next five years. Despite this recognition, almost three quarters (71%) report that their organisation provides no staff training on digital trust and only 21% of organisations are planning to increase their budget for digital trust.

Most (76%) business and IT professionals believe digital trust is relevant to their organisation and 65% say it is important that organisations be independently graded on digital trust practices, with the results made publicly available. ISACA defines digital trust as the confidence in the integrity of the relationships and transactions between providers and consumers within a digital ecosystem and is a key indicator of an organisation’s security credentials.

Despite recognising its relevance and importance, three quarters (75%) of respondents are either unsure or not fully aware of what improving digital trust requires in practice. A similar number (77%) report that their organisations do not currently measure the maturity of their digital trust practices or are unsure if they do.

Chris Dimitriadis, Chief Global Strategy Officer at ISACA, said: “It’s encouraging that businesses continue to recognise the importance of digital trust, not just for business sustainability, security, and profitability, but for building long-term consumer trust. Yet more needs to be done to truly achieve high levels of digital trust, which starts with measuring current levels to establish a benchmark and create a maturity plan.”

39% of organisations admit they are experiencing more cyberattacks, and 15% are suffering from more privacy breaches compared to a year ago. And this is only going to get worse if businesses don’t prioritise digital trust. Respondents recognise that organisations with low digital trust are more likely to see a reputation decline (64%), suffer from more cybersecurity incidents (58%), experience more privacy breaches (57%) and even lose customers (54%). The survey reveals that the biggest obstacles to achieving high levels of digital trust include a lack of staff skills and training (50%), lack of buy-in from leadership (42%), and insufficient processes and governance practices (32%).

Dimitriadis adds: “It is not down to business leaders alone to lead the charge – digital trust practices should be implemented and aligned across all departments to truly succeed. Our survey has found that many businesses are unsure on what improving digital trust requires in practice, but working with a trusted partner who can provide a step-by-step framework and assist in digital trust training can set the business on the right path to success and security.”

Leveraging Tools and Frameworks to Advance Trust

According to the survey, only 15 percent of respondents’ organizations currently use a framework for their digital trust practices, but almost half (46 %) of respondents believe it is extremely/very important for an organisation to have a digital trust framework. ISACA recently launched its Digital Trust Ecosystem Framework (DTEF), a comprehensive digital trust resource with indicators and controls that can be used and customised for the needs of all organisations. The DTEF roadmap and implementation guides provide a clear understanding of how organisations can attain the level of digital trust that fits their business models, strategies, and goals.

The top three benefits of using a framework include saving time and effort, enabling benchmarking with other organisations in a cost-efficient way, and providing added credibility and third-party validation in support of budget and staff requests.