Business / Finance

Technology Facilitates every aspect of our lives. Has ‘Trust’ been digitised?

Philipp Kristian believes that over a decade of continuous, beneficial and largely free innovation powered by the internet is driving a trust shift towards digital.

Dec 11, 2017 | By LUXUO


Philipp Kristian Diekhöner is a leading innovation practitioner, keynote speaker and author of The Trust Economy and he believes that emerging technologies are leading towards a “Digitisation of Trust”. This is how the recent Forbes contributor believes it will affect us

Across the 21st century, technology companies have created a plethora of new platforms facilitating every conceivable aspect of our daily lives, from how we discover information (Google) to how we communicate, date, shop, travel and commute. In recent years, this has extended to providing us with new ways to invest (Acorns), budget (Mint), bank (N26) and insure (Lemonade). All have successfully won our trust in a new technology platforms encouraging us to conduct important aspects of our lives in entirely new ways.

Technology Facilitates every aspect of our lives. Has ‘Trust’ been digitised? Will this re-shape the way we currently live?

Historically, pioneers of technologies and unfamiliar business models faced a steep uphill trust battle for their creations to find a willing market. Today, technology is increasingly becoming our greatest ally in this trust building challenge. Our propensity to trust digital platforms is stronger than ever. Before we buy about anything nowadays, we look it up online by default.

In the 1980s, the standard action for communicating with a company would have been picking up one’s desk phone. In the 1990s, this slowly shifted to the mobile phone, then to email, and eventually to mobile messaging apps. This isn’t to say desk phones are dead – they’re just no longer reflective of the zeitgeist. The same applies to how companies get in touch with us: Digital outreach has firmly become part of pretty much every purchase journey, regardless whether the sale is made online or offline. Since our brains are made for habit, we can assume these patterns are here to stay.

As much of the awareness game is shifting to being discoverable in a digital context, making it easy for customers to find the information they are looking for is paramount. The odds will be restacked in favour of companies that serve their customers with great technology assets and interactions across web and digital platforms used daily. A ‘minimum viable’ digital presence misses the point, as it leaves lots of opportunity on the table since so much brand and reputation building takes place online these days. Moreover, digital as a medium allows all kinds of communications between individuals and commercial entities to converge. Beyond making a case for oneself and luring in prospective customers, doubling down on digital opportunities will be about the right presence at the right time: Serving customers well across digital contexts in which they already spend much of their time and are conducting a sizeable portion of commercial and social activities.

Will digital replace existing infrastructure or somewhere in between?

It’s essential to see a well-rounded digital presence as a necessary and value-adding augmentation of traditional touchpoints. The choice to be made isn’t whether to prioritise digital over investments in existing infrastructure, because both should go closely together. Innovators making inroads into established sectors differ from the pack by making full use of the possibilities offered by digital touchpoints in ways customers trust and value. Preeminent tech companies, such as Tesla, demonstrate how a strong digital proposition can create solid differentiation and work in sync with offline touchpoints. This is especially relevant when dealing with high-value goods that require complex or lengthy sales processes, because customers are likely to conduct many rounds of informal research on the products or services in question.

Over a decade of continuous, beneficial and largely free innovation powered by the internet is driving a shift towards technology-enabled platforms that establish trust with their audiences. As the world is getting acquainted with sleeping in the homes of strangers, hitching rides from unlicensed drivers or matching romantic partners with a swipe – all with the help of technology – our notions of how and what we trust is transforming. The moment we see a beautifully designed, well-engineered technology platform that addresses a need of ours effectively, we are likely to trust it. Incumbents struggling to integrate digital across their business will risk having a weak presence in the context where trust is built and reinforced most easily and rapidly these days. Digital platforms are emerging as new trusted entities for enabling our economic and social activity. Innovative companies that are native to the digital age, on the other hand, know how to use this to their advantage. Arming each part of the value chain with digital interactions and infrastructure avoids being left in the wake of a trust shift towards digital.

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