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A case for building digital trust for a more sustainable world

Jean-Baptiste Perrin
28 Jun 2022

Trust in technology is dropping in an increasingly digital world


The use of technology to build the future business model of many businesses has been increasing exponentially – it helps them get closer to their customers, facilitates daily operations, and increases corporate opportunities. At the same time, digital technology is vulnerable to issues like breach of security, misuse of personal data, or even algorithmic bias and lack of transparency. Close to 60% of organizations, for example, attracted legal scrutiny, and 22% faced customer backlash in the two to three years prior to 2020 due to decisions made by their AI systems.

It is therefore not surprising that public trust in technology is dropping significantly. The 2021 Edelman Trust in Technology report shows that globally, trust in technology has plummeted to 68% in 2021 from 77% in 2012. Customers believe organizations are not doing enough about key ethical issues: a Capgemini Research Institute study reveals that the share of customers who believe that organizations are being fully transparent about how they are using their personal data fell from 76% in 2019 to 62% in 2020.

In an unfortunate world where, in true Orwell’s 1984 fashion, we have real examples of authoritarian states using technology to subjugate their citizens – how can businesses ensure customers understand and trust organizations’ digital transformation agendas?

Elements of transparency, security, privacy, and responsibility constitute digital trust

Decisions taken by technology affect a major part of an individual’s life today. We have cars driven by AI, insurance premiums based on big data analytics, nursing homes staffed with robots, and targeted ads and recommendations based on the information we put on the internet. With all the data that organizations have amassed, consumer apprehensions are not only expected but warranted.

However, organizations are also becoming increasingly sensitive to ethical issues. In a 2020 study, 62% of organizations said that they adhere to all data protection regulations applicable in their region (e.g., the GDPR in Europe), vs. 48% in 2019.

To alleviate consumer concerns about technology and become ambassadors of trust, businesses must continue to demonstrate a mature stance towards digital ethics and security. To earn digital trust, organizations need to focus on the four areas of ethics and responsibility, privacy and data governance, transparency, and security.

The role of technology in advancing sustainability

A lack of trust in any technology leads to its adoption being hindered. This is truly a shame when the same technology could potentially be used in a multitude of ways to improve our world. Big data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digital twins are among the many digital tools that could help us become more sustainable in various ways.

According to a study, AI-enabled use cases helped organizations across industries reduce GHG emissions by 13% and improve power efficiency by 11% from 2018 to 2020. AI use cases have also helped reduce waste and deadweight assets by improving their utilization by 12%. In another study, the Capgemini Research Institute found that 34% of organizations with ongoing digital twin programs have implemented the technology, at scale, to understand and predict energy consumption and emissions, and 16% is the average improvement in sustainability realized owing to digital twins.

The figure below highlights some of the use cases of technologies like AI/ML and digital twins to help boost sustainability.

Source:
1) Capgemini Research Institute, Climate AI, October 2020, https://alternate.ucwe.capgemini.com/research/climate-ai/;  
2) Capgemini Research Institute, Digital Twins: Adding Intelligence to the Real World, May 2022, https://alternate.ucwe.capgemini.com/insights/research-library/digital-twins/.           

Digital trust can result in increased sustainability, faster

The need for digital transformation to accelerate and scale solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change and to help disadvantaged communities is evident. We have the technologies we need and we want to change the game. But there is still resistance to adopting them and scaling them. We need to build digital solutions that are perceived as enablers rather than intrusive – respecting digital human rights and opening new frontiers for society.   

So, where do you stand? Do you want to participate in building trust in technology for a more sustainable world? Connect with us and help us get the future we all want!