From the point of business, trust in technology is incredibly important for acquiring users, raising capital, hiring the best talent, and growing a modern company. Here are some statistics on trust in technology, as well as tips on what actions to take to improve trust in your tech product.
We base the material on Edelman trust in technology research. An online survey in 28 markets with more than 34,000 respondents of 18+ age.
What is trust in technology?
Trust in technology is a result of the users, employees, investors, and other stakeholders’ willingness to take factual information or advice and act on it, as well as by their recognition of the technology as helpful, capable, and useful.
Trust is a multifaceted phenomenon. As a business, you need to earn it not just by words but most of all by actions, things people notice and feel in their daily lives. The words in turn are mostly important for fairness, transparency, and clarity.
Reasons why your tech company should care about trust in technology:
- more loyal customer buyers and advocates
- stronger employer brand
- easier to receive investment
- resilience in the face of crisis
- great competitive advantage
- no problems with PR campaigns
Successful organizations can use technology in a way that better serves people’s goals. So we can say trust from stakeholders = prosperous company.
State of trust in technology for 2021
Good economic conditions still indicate a rise in trust in developing markets around Asia and the Middle East. However, in the developed world, major violations of the social contract—corporate malfeasance, government corruption, fake news—have negatively changed this relationship.
The main worries in tech that lead to distrust:
- 61% of respondents consider technology is out of control
- 76% are concerned about fake information or false news being used as a weapon
- Over 1 in 2 worry about job automation
The most trusted technology across markets:
The majority of respondents are unconvinced in tech’s positive impact. Personalized medicines/gene mapping is considered the most promising (50% choose positive impact in the category). Then goes driverless cars, artificial intelligence/robotics, cell-cultured meat/gene editing, and finally blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Speaking about AI, 50% believe it will have a positive impact on personal safety, and 47% — on personal well-being. The least respondents believe in the positive impact of artificial intelligence on privacy (38%) and jobs (40%). The reason to address your customers’ concerns on these areas.
Respondents from 26 countries were asked to rate how much they trust those technologies. The average figures in percent are the following: IoT — 65%, VR — 61%, 5G — 65%.
Why does awareness raise trust?
The majority of respondents know little or nothing about AI (67%), driverless cars (68%), blockchain (76%), cell-cultured meat (77%), and personalized medicines (78%) with less than 7% knowing a lot across all mentioned technologies.
70% of those who know a lot about a certain technology topic feel it will have a positive impact. And only 27% of those who know nothing about technology believe in positive impact — in 2,5 times less!
Top actions to increase trust are just communicating advantages and disadvantages.
The CEO role
95% of tech and non-tech employees consider CEOs to speak out on the issues: training for jobs of the future, automation’s impact, ethical use of tech, income inequality, diversity.
74% think CEOs should deal with tech distrust issues and do not wait for the government.
79% of employees think companies have a duty to retrain employees affected by automation or innovation. However, they do not believe businesses will do it.
42% think that companies should deal with workforce retraining issues while 32% choose the government. What is related to the issue of protecting workers in the gig economy, the majority (40%) think it is a government responsibility.
Actions to take for increasing trust
1. Work on the trust of all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Moreover, 38% of respondents think that customers are the most important group and 37% — employees, and only 13% — shareholders.
2. Increase employees’ trust to build trust in innovation among other stakeholders.
Develop and implement activities with the HR department and managers. Make employees believe that they all participate in tech for good. It may include: gamified education programs for all employees about main tech products; teams who work closely with the product explain how it works, what are the disadvantages; top-management regularly speak out about plans, achievements, goals of the company.
3. Diminish employees’ worries about job automation. Some of the good practices are:
- First of all through training: offer employees opportunities to develop new skills to remain competitive and relevant on the market
- Encourage them financially or in other ways to use tools for automation of some of their tasks
- Educate them about how technology will automate part of their repetitive tasks, what job opportunities through automation they will have, how it makes their work easier while salary might even become higher
4. Provide quality information, addressing the benefits and risks of the technology.
- Through various content forms: cases in media, research papers, digital books, video guides, and courses tell about your technology in the most honest way. Ensure distribution and the content reach
- Prioritize transparency. Prepare reports about your work based on data
- Explain to customers how exactly your tech is delivering benefit to them
5. Make your best talents speak about your technology in public. Among the sources of information about technology, people trust most company technical experts (68%) and academic experts (66%). While the government is least trusted — 33% of respondents rate it as very credible and the numbers are decreasing comparing to 2019.
In times of uncertainty, fear, and change, people do not believe such traditional voices as politicians and other members of the elite anymore. They want credible information sources who deliver the truth in a language that does not only convey genuine understanding but also a clear and direct approach.
- find spokespeople of your company among employees — those who actively speaking out on various online and may be offline platforms about what they do and what your organization does
- ask them to mention your company name across the information channels the employees use
- discuss what they shouldn’t mention like sharing trade secrets or company financial data, talking about other employees
- make their sharing and social activities a part of their job, which they are measured on and paid for or incentivized in some other form so that they will not be overloaded with additional tasks
- motivate them to train and mentor others to do the same. After all it might turn into a company-wide trend
6. CEOs to guarantee and lead the positive change for trust in technology.
- Heads of organizations should speak out in public about such issues as training for jobs of the future, automation’s impact, ethical use of tech
- It is on the CEO’s shoulders to prioritize and shape the company’s directions. They should include trust in technology in long-term strategies.
- In order to ensure the company’s efforts are having an impact, CEOs should devote their personal energy toward that goal
- Embark on their own personal transformation journey to show employees, customers, and other stakeholders new types of behavior
- Building a committed and strong team so that everyone can contribute to achieving the most trust to tech
7. Develop a code of ethics. A code of ethics is needed among tech teams to make sure and show stakeholders that their intentions are good when building software products. Many organizations around the world lack a unified code of ethics, but they can take immediate action by fostering a culture that places ethical behaviors at its highest priority. A guideline companies can leverage to develop their code of ethics are the five principles of Scrum.
8. Set up an expert commission to monitor. Attract trusted figures to control and report on your technology-driven organization’s activities. You may as well partner with well-known experts in the industry to be your advisors.
Trust in technology is a very problematic and not so obvious issue for businesses to address. While the role of businesses in trust in technology is not limited by the success of their own company as they greatly influence their industry and new complex technologies in general.
From the quality and honest work of development team members to the leading role of a CEO every participant of a technology-driven company should put an effort on the way to better trust in technology and as a consequence its further development.