Unveiling the results of a new consumer study, Microsoft has called for an increased focus to strengthen trust in digital services in the country.
The study, Understanding Consumer Trust in Digital Services in Asia Pacific, found that only two out of five (41%) of consumers in India trust organizations offering digital services to protect their personal data. A study sponsored by Microsoft and conducted by IDC Asia/Pacific, aimed to understand consumers’ expectations of trust and their experiences with digital services and provide tangible insights to organizations to help bridge the gap by earning and sustaining the trust of consumers in the digital world.
“The upside for organizations with a trusted digital platform is tremendous as India is one of the largest and fastest growing digital services markets in Asia Pacific where almost all of the transactions and interactions here would be digital in the near future,” said Keshav Dhakad, Group Head & Assistant General Counsel – Corporate, External & Legal Affairs (CELA), Microsoft India. “However, despite consumers’ increasing dependence on digital services, there is still a considerable trust gap that needs to be addressed. Most consumers still do not perceive organizations to be trusted data stewards. It is clear that businesses need to do a lot more to understand what drives consumer trust and focus on how they can build trust and make it a key competitive advantage for their digital services,” Keshav Dhakad added.
The study found that establishing a trusted platform needs to be a priority in organizations’ strategy for digital services. It uncovered that close to half of the consumers (46%) in India have had their trust compromised when using digital services. More than half (51%) of the respondents indicated that they would switch to another organization while 32% would reduce the usage of the digital service. Nearly one out of three (32%) of consumers would stop using the digital service altogether. Moreover, only 7% of consumers prefer to transact with an organization that offers a cheaper but less trusted digital platform. Close to 73% consumers highlighted that they would recommend a trusted digital service to others even if the cost is higher.
The study, which was conducted amongst 6,400 consumers across 14 markets, surveyed 459 consumers in India. It asked respondents to provide their opinions on the five elements of trust jointly defined by IDC and Microsoft – namely privacy, security, reliability, ethics, and compliance– when using digital services. The study revealed that consumers feel that all five elements of trust are almost equally important to them. Specifically, security (86%), privacy (85%) and compliance (82%) emerged as the top three most important elements. Consumers also have the highest expectations of trust from financial services institutions, followed by education institutions and retailers.
“Trust is critical for organizations to succeed in this digital world as consumers overwhelmingly prefer to transact with organizations with a trusted digital platform,” said Ranganath Sadasiva, Director – Enterprise Solutions, IDC India. “As competition between digital services become more intense and global in nature, advocacy through word of mouth can be a strong differentiator for the organization and a shot in the arm for the brand.”
The study further revealed that not just organizations providing digital services, but the broader industry, including institutions which set rules and regulations, should be responsible for building trust. Consumers in India feel that technology companies (46%) followed by governments (34%) should be responsible for building trust, indicating the need for a stronger partnership between the private and public sector. When it comes to fostering trust in AI technologies, consumers feel that the technology companies (43%) and government (39%) should take the lead in ensuring AI is used in a trusted manner.
“To establish a trusted framework for the development and usage of AI and technology in general, we must first consider its impact on individuals, businesses and society. This would require a broader debate on ethics, policy and regulation that involves the appropriate stakeholders, including the government and technology companies. These dialogues would need to be backed by actions, including forging closer partnerships and facilitating greater knowledge exchange and industry best practices. These are all necessary steps that will enable us to collectively establish a well-balanced, holistic baseline for trust for the entire industry, concluded Keshav Dhakad.