As we become more reliant on technology to work, communicate, and be entertained, we are having to place our trust in it more than ever before. When I choose to work from home instead of travelling to the office, I am trusting that my laptop is fully operational, my Internet connection is stable, and that my ability to access the cloud-based applications I need for my work are available. Subconsciously, however, it is natural to worry more about your devices and connectivity breaking down when working from home than it is when you are in the office, with the IT team sat in the same building.
This is because putting our faith in technology often requires putting confidence in the unknown. Ultimately, this is what trust is all about. Am I confident enough in someone or something that I can overcome the uncertainty of the outcome? If you do not trust, you will not take risks or take a step into the unknown, which means you will never change. So, as organisations continue with their Digital Transformation (DX) journeys, how can they ensure that a lack of trust towards technology does not prevent them from taking the necessary risks that come with any attempt to initiate change?
In some ways, the process of trusting a piece of technology is very similar to trusting another human. We have a number of mechanisms to draw on. The first is our gut instinct. You often know whether or not you find someone trustworthy within 30 seconds of meeting them. This is also true of technology. Everything from the brand logo to our first interaction with the user interface adds to our perception of whether or not a device, website or communication is trustworthy or not. Various studies suggest that we are more likely to accept phone calls from numbers we recognise. We become suspicious about providing personal information about ourselves when registering for services online, when we would have no hesitation giving the same details to a bank clerk or mortgage advisor.
While our instincts are indeed powerful attributes, they can sometimes let us down. In the real world, this might be believing one of our friends when the story they are telling us is really a joke or accidentally driving towards the office on a Sunday because our brains are on autopilot. In the digital sphere, the consequences of us trusting our instincts or not thinking properly can be clicking on phishing links, compromising personal security information, and accepting fake news as a truth.
However, trust is not all about our gut reaction. Trust is earned over time through our own experiences, but also through other peoples’. When you can read up on experiences shared by those other people, who you never have met, you can reduce your uncertainty and posed risk. This way you can take a confident step towards the unknown. This can be referred to as distributed trust. We are more likely to trust a professional decorator with a job in our home if he/she has a high rating and visible track record online where maybe even examples of their work are displayed. This is an example of distributed trust, and the same concept also applies to technology. For example, the majority of people are not early adopters. These are the fastest people to get on board with the latest products available or use new technology concepts before they become mainstream. Technology assists us with reducing the uncertainty by giving access to a huge pile of information. This information is what you can call a trust enabler.
The majority of technology users and IT teams prefer to wait and see. Whether it’s buying a new smartphone or migrating data to the public cloud, many of us seek endorsement from people who have tried it first – including our peers, other businesses, independent consultants, and total strangers on the other side of the world. There’s a reason the IT industry has a saying that no one gets fired for hiring certain brands. Those brands have built a visible track record through being reliable, consistent, and delivering a great customer experience. People trust that their products and services will do what they say they will, based on years of success, so perceive their risk of investment to be lower than working with a brand they are less familiar with.
One of the major trust issues organisations have regarding new technology is whether or not it is secure. Will their data be safe and protected? They also want to know what happens when things go wrong. What happens if the technology fails? How do we get our services back online and quickly recover our data? So, with DX on the agenda of every business boardroom, CIOs and IT teams need to feel reassured that the technology providers they put their trust in are fit for purpose. According to the Veeam Data Protection Report 2021, over a quarter of business leaders in the Middle East (26% in UAE and 27% in Saudi Arabia) see cyber threats as a challenge to their DX initiatives in the next 12 months. This heightened awareness towards the impact of cybersecurity breaches on their bottom line will weigh heavily on the minds of organisations when choosing their DX partner.
Furthermore, organisations are starting to understand that one of the most sure-fire ways for a business to lose trust is for their data to be compromised – whether it is stolen or simply lost. Our research indicates that 50% of business leaders in UAE and 45% in Saudi Arabia think downtime and data loss could negatively impact customer confidence. 40% of respondents in both countries fear damage to brand integrity. Over a third (34%) of UAE organizations think this could result in a loss of employee confidence and 35% of Saudi Arabian enterprises think this could result in reduced stock price. All this shows the inextricable link between data protection and trust.
In terms of how successfully organisations in the Middle East are currently protecting data, 27% of all backup jobs and 24% of all restore jobs fail leaving 45% of data potentially unprotected. The issues of data protection and cybersecurity, therefore, pose a threat to DX. It is clear that humans’ relationship with technology, whether they are a customer, a business decision maker, or an employee, is all about trust. So, businesses must turn to trusted technology advisors who can help them ensure that their DX is built on solid foundations, with a data protection that is fit for purpose.