Trust P&L

Each development contributes to the enterprise’s trust capital through a positive trust bottom line

Trust is the key to a solid digital reputation. It is painstakingly built yet easily destroyed due to a lack of cybersecurity or the careless use of personal data. And with regulation only increasing in intensity, it’s obvious that trust needs to be cherished, just like any other key asset on the corporate balance sheet. This calls for a full understanding of the latest in data privacy and security technologies and a Privacy-by-Design mindset. It brings a new responsibility during solution creation: to be the accountant of the enterprise’s trust balance not only by protecting it, but also by positively adding to it through each and every new development.


  • The digital world is a world of relations. Relations are built on trust; therefore, trust is a necessary ingredient for success in a digital enterprise.
  • Without trust, there is no true connection between enterprise and customers, no distribution of intelligence or roles between B2B partners, no shared data lake, no customer data to learn from.
  • Trust is built at human speed and destroyed at internet speed.
  • Fraud and hacking are obvious trust killers but barrages of invasive advertising, the constant stabbing of the private sphere, and the rain of invasive offers – not to mention (AI-generated) fake news and data – are effective passion killers, too.


  • The digital enterprise has to introduce trust accounting, where trust is measured, assessed, and counted. Every digital initiative or investment has to yield a trust increment or at least avoid trust loss.
  • With trust accounting comes trust accountability. Designers, developers, and cybersecurity experts need to become the guardians of trust and design thinking is needed to address how to cultivate trust between clients, customers, employees, and partners.
  • The new generation of AI solutions (notably in the areas of neural networks and reinforcement learning) are often highly accurate in their analysis, predictions or prescriptions – but as the result of a fully opaque reasoning. It requires an extra effort – against all odds – to explain what’s inside the intelligent black box, in order to raise the trust of humans in AI.


Designing for trust needs to be transparent, bidirectional, offensive, and defensive:

  • Transparent: cybersecurity has to be seen or perceived. The private sphere must be unambiguously recognized, sensitivity to data protection must be patent, and the use of personal information circumscribed.
  • Bidirectional: trust is a two-way street. Trust others so that they trust you.
  • Offensive: seek trust gain by replacing the weak links in the trust chain by a blockchain; and build AI in to autonomously detect and deal with anomalies, potential fraud and compliance breaches in real time.
  • Defensive: avoid trust loss through precautionary measures and cybersecurity.


  • The more the digital enterprise becomes relatable, intelligent, and trusted, the more it gains power.
  • If trust is the currency of the digital world, power is its rule: it can be gained at network speed and dominates globally but runs the risk of vanishing at the blink of a distrustful eye.
  • Using the trust dimension to leverage power intelligently might be the best survival kit in this digital world – or is it a digital jungle after all?
  • With AI rapidly becoming the main engine to boost corporate IQ, new factors – also ethical ones – will weigh in the trust balance of the enterprise.