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 per cent) of consumers in India trust organisations offering digital services to protect their personal data.
“The upside for organisations 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 organisations 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,” he added.
The study found that establishing a trusted platform needs to be a priority in organisations’ strategy for digital services. It uncovered that close to half of the consumers (46 per cent) in India have had their trust compromised when using digital services. More than half (51 per cent) of the respondents indicated that they would switch to another organisation while 32 per cent would reduce the usage of the digital service. Nearly one out of three (32 per cent) of consumers would stop using the digital service altogether. Moreover, only seven per cent of consumers prefer to transact with an organisation that offers a cheaper but less trusted digital platform. Close to 73 per cent 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 per cent), privacy (85 per cent) and compliance (82 per cent) 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 organisations to succeed in this digital world as consumers overwhelmingly prefer to transact with organisations with a trusted digital platform. As competition between digital services become more intense and global in nature, advocacy through word of mouth can be a strong differentiator for the organisation and a shot in the arm for the brand,” said Ranganath Sadasiva, Director – Enterprise Solutions, IDC India.
The study further revealed that not just organisations 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 per cent) followed by governments (34 per cent) 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 per cent) and government (39 per cent) 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 Dhakad.