Strengthening Trust in Data and AI: Understanding Digital Context

white staircase on a blue background with flags

In today’s digital era, business leaders are well aware of the critical importance data driven technologies play in delivering business results. Shaping the lives of individuals and transforming society, it’s also no surprise that at the heart of successful digitalization is the relationship between the use of technology and the customer.

Yet, why do so many digital transformation initiatives miss the mark when it comes to trust? From data breaches to the existential risks of generative AI, the deficit of trust between enterprises and individuals continues to grow.1 It’s a well known challenge and one business leaders have been addressing for more than a decade. Yet given the uncertainty, complexity and volatility of today’s economy, strengthening digital trust is now more important than ever.2

As University of Washington’s Scott David notes, when it comes to strengthening stakeholder trust, “the source of our problem is the source of the solution.” We need to address the primary factors driving the trust deficit and redouble our efforts to mitigate them.3

“Digital trust is individuals’ expectation that digital technologies and services – and the organizations providing them – will protect all stakeholders’ interests and uphold societal expectations and values.”

— World Economic Forum4

Strengthening Trust: Personalization with Purpose

So where do we start? Strengthening the transparency, accountability, and equity of digital experiences are three areas that hold great promise.The payoff for investing in strengthening these three areas means that enterprises can gain a closer relationship with their customers and be better equipped to navigate the complex (and at times contradictory) decisions that shape how individuals act when it comes to sharing their data. The result: personalization with purpose. Because individuals are actively sharing contextual details on how they value and perceive a given offering, the resulting experiences are more relevant, rewarding, and resilient.

Wheel of digital Trust: Privacy, transparency, accountability, equity, audit-ability, redressability, interoperability, and cybersecurity
Sourced from World Economic Forum 4

Transparency: Shedding More Light on How Data is Used

For too long the economics of the data economy have been built on keeping folks in the dark over how their data is used and monetized. That’s not sustainable. Enterprises can establish trust with their customers by providing transparency about their data practices. This can be done through clear privacy policies, easy-to-understand terms of service, and regular updates about data usage. When people have a comprehensive understanding of their data’s use, they can make informed decisions about their digital outcomes.

Accountability: Taking Responsibility for Ethical Practices

As the adoption of generative AI and other emerging technologies continues to accelerate, it is essential for providers to take responsibility for the uncertainty and ethical implications of how these rapidly evolving tools behave when commercially deployed. This means proactively ensuring fairness in decision-making, addressing potential algorithmic biases and establishing mechanisms for rectifying issues and feedback. Developing accountability demonstrates commitment to the well-being of users and their communities.

Equity: Ensuring Inclusive Digital Experiences

Digital technology has the power to bridge gaps and create opportunities, but it can also amplify and perpetuate social and economic inequalities. It is crucial for providers to embed equity and fairness into the design and deployment of their solutions. This means considering diverse user perspectives, fair value apportionment, addressing digital divides, and ensuring equal access and representation. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, digital experiences can be deployed which ensure the unique needs and aspirations of under-represented and vulnerable populations can be addressed.

Navigating Context

When it comes to understanding context it’s important to recognize its two key dimensions. There are the objective observations of outsiders (location, time, date, device, OS, etc.) and the subjective perceptions of individuals (preferences, beliefs, cultural norms, emotional state, personal values, etc.). When individuals willingly share and connect data about their subjective perceptions of a given situation with data that is observed about that same experience, a richer, more relevant and more sustainable customer relationship can emerge. Individuals feel seen and understood and are more likely to engage with digital experience providers in meaningful ways.

From Personalization to Participation: The Connected Wellness Use Case

Moving from personalization to participation is not only good for individuals, it’s also good for business. One example of where a balanced multi-dimensional sense of trust and a rich understanding context are yielding positive results is in the domain of Connected Wellness. Individuals and insurance providers have collaboratively built a trustworthy data ecosystem differentiated by its transparency, accountability and equity.

“44% of consumers are likely to consider connected insurance services to help stay healthier.” 5
Because insurers have designed their offerings to have a context-based understanding of the intentions and needs of individuals as it relates to health and wellness, they have access to a rich array of personal data. Individuals share and connect personal data from an array of digital devices (watches, wearables, sensors, mobile applications, etc) to achieve their goals and share their results with a variety of corporate stakeholders. This constant flow of real-time personal data not only helps individuals meet their personal health goals but also provides improved risk assessment and pricing via sophisticated and predictive analytics. Policyholders, in return, are actively engaged through rewards and incentives for better health outcomes.6Vitality, a wellness program founded by insurance firm Discovery in South Africa serving more than 20 million members across 28 countries, is one such example of a successful connected wellness insurance provider. It combines strong analytics and an enticing reward network to build enduring customer relationships. Estimates are that its members have hospital costs that are 30 percent lower than other life insurance customers.7

“Vitality has delivered real value to clients from day one and in turn is driving better consumer outcomes while reinventing the way insurance is delivered in the market.”

Adrian Gore, Founder & Chief Executive of Discovery Group8
Establishing trust in today’s complex business environment requires commitment and discipline. By proactively focusing on the transparency, accountability, and equity of their digital strategy, enterprises can unlock the true potential of digital transformation through authentic relationships built on trust and mutual benefit.In our next blog post, we’ll look at how credit unions and community banks are deepening digital trust and applying the discipline of contextual intelligence to position themselves for the trillions of dollars in cross-generational wealth set to be transferred during the next twenty years.

Subscribe to our blog

Stay up to date on the latest CX news, resources, and service tips.