In the past two years, issues of trust have become a top priority for business and technology leaders. Whether it’s expanding into adjacent markets, maximizing employee productivity with data, or rolling out a disruptive business model, no digital initiative has a chance of success without the trust of customers, employees, and partners. And in areas where every stakeholder is demanding action — like environmental sustainability and diversity, equity, and fairness — technology can drive key levers for trust such as empathy, integrity, accountability, and transparency.

Savvy leaders who have embraced the trust imperative know that trust is not a buzzword and that it doesn’t happen accidentally. In the coming year, these leaders will take concrete steps to build this trust. And conversely, brands that fail to build digital trust will languish.

In 2022, we predict that leading companies will seize trust to benefit the planet, empower the organizations and individuals they serve, and seize the opportunities presented by new digital models. Here’s a peek at some of our 2022 predictions for digital trust:

  • Many companies will welcome a new chief trust officer. We expect that industries that require significant levels of trust, such as infrastructure technology and financial services, will appoint a new chief trust officer, reporting to the CEO and aligned with other C-suite roles such as the CISO. By our count, at least five firms have already taken this step, and we expect that another 15 firms in the Global 500 will follow suit in 2022. The role will have heft, with responsibilities that initially span board advisory, technology, risk management, and governance but will quickly include more human-centered aspects of trust like brand strategy and corporate values.
  • Bias bounties will target AI systems. It’s becoming obvious that many technologies embody the same implicit biases that afflict their creators. In 2021, to help combat this problem, Twitter launched the first major bias bounty program and offered a cash award to a student who showed that an image-cropping algorithm favored lighter, slimmer, and younger faces. In 2022, many other tech companies such as Google and Microsoft will also implement similar programs, quickly followed by nontechnology companies in industries like banking and healthcare.
  • The number of firms committing to the Climate Pledge will triple. With intensifying expectations and scrutiny, environmental sustainability has become a highly visible driver of trust levers, particularly empathy, integrity, accountability, and transparency. The Climate Pledge initiative asks firms to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040; as of writing, 201 firms have already signed. We predict that, due to changing consumer sentiment, investor demands, government investment, employee activism, inevitable regulation, and partner pressure, firms will prove their sustainability bona fides by signing the pledge. This will trigger significant investment in sustainability management software for accurate carbon accounting and frequent reporting.

Trust is complex, ephemeral, and essential, and more businesses are realizing that no digital initiative has a chance of success without trust. Read our full predictions on digital trust and download the Predictions 2022 guide.