How Good Data Could Solve the Global Trust Crisis

02/09/2017 11:50 am ET

There are many reasons for mistrust today.

Just ask this year’s political pollsters, consultants, and our two major presidential candidates. Not only were a vast majority of our “trusted” polls wrong, but overall voter sentiments also revealed that neither candidate could be trusted. This phenomenon isn’t confined just to the United States, but the same can be said around the world – from Brexit to China’s corruption trials and Italy’s Referendum – there’s a lack of trust in government globally.

This global confidence crisis in trust also extends to businesses, as we’ve seen corporate credibility compromised time and again, across financial institutions and in sectors spanning tech, food, automotive and retail. Can you trust the airbags in your car? Or that the lettuce in your taco is safe? What about the water you drink?

Customers buy with the confidence that the product or service they’re purchasing is going to be exactly what is promised to them. When companies fail their clientele, the most basic of business contracts is broken. In my view, a strong trust foundation starts to erode when institutions lack careful oversight of their data, which may lead to vulnerable operations and practices, and an increased risk of a substandard product or service entering the market.

In the new world of big data, government and businesses alike, are challenged no longer on making judgments without enough information, but with navigating the wealth of trends, numbers, and patterns to corroborate that the data itself is accurate. Trusting the quality, completeness and accuracy of an organization’s data before making choices ― coming to terms with trusting your data over months, years and decades is more important now than ever before.

In the corporate landscape, what’s more is that with every new business partner, supplier or third party vendor that a company has, the risks that come with accurately certifying and securing all of this data also multiply. Some big corporations have vendors in the thousands, as outsourcing strategic parts of their business to third parties has become a strategic way to remain profitable in today’s competitive landscape. Businesses are spending a great deal of money and time to repair damage wrought by third parties, or by policies and programs that put profit before trust.

I can’t stress it enough ― data continues to expand as the risks for maintaining stakeholder trust increase. Trust is imperative.

Trust is built over time on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis. Thanks to technology, governmental institutions and corporate bodies can leverage the massive amounts of data available to their competitive advantage, but also as a way to build, regain and strengthen trust. By closely monitoring their own data and the data of their third party partners, risks are minimized and trust is earned.

It may feel like the concept of trust is truly broken. But that can’t be. In ways big and small, trust is the linchpin for our economic systems and institutions, government and politics, and is integral to our way of life. Where it has failed us, we need to rebuild it. Where it still exists, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure it remains. As we look to solve difficult problems and build trust, we are doing work never more necessary than it is today whether that’s in business or in our personal lives or our highest offices.

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