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A Chief Trust Officer – are you kidding?

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I attended a number of events at the recent Myriad festival and had the pleasure of seeing several of our clients presenting, sharing their journeys and drilling into their experiences. It was also an opportunity to catch up with the folks in the startup ecosystem who flock to these events.


The cynic in me was struck by how many of the issues being discussed (on and off-stage) have been part of the business cycle for decades – the importance of trust, foundations for success, how hard it is to raise money, and people talking about how to raise money who never have. But I had to press pause when I met a young guy one evening who put me right back in my place.

It seems many of the players in the startup ecosystem think that the issues and problems emerging out of the digital economy are new. That large corporations around the globe have never before breached their customers’ trust the way Facebook, Uber and Google seem to be doing on a daily basis with impunity.

The fact is, however, that when you mix ego with money and competition, our human nature – being what it is – will lead us to pursue an edge at any cost. Winning becomes more important than “doing no evil”. And we can claim that it is an age-old problem and continue having the same old conversations.

During my chat to this very young (and obviously talented) AI developer at QUT’s ART of Digital event, it dawned on me that the millennials we are doing business with place a very different meaning on trust and integrity. While I initially laughed at the suggestion that organisations will need a Trust Officer in the future, it seems this generation of business owners understand they need to re-learn what trust means. In the internet of everything these concepts aren’t necessarily taught and, it seems, need to become part of the corporate mantra.

In cutting edge companies we will see senior management with titles and responsibilities that are all about engendering trust and ensuring integrity, not just within the organisation but in the marketplace as well. These roles and the responsibility they entail, will have the same importance moving forward as data security and integrity.

The folks attending Myriad are embracing uncertainty, and the messiness of change. They appreciate they have lost their understanding of trust and integrity, and acknowledge they need to bring them back to the centre of business.

I have a sneaking suspicion, based on my comeuppance, that these guys will come up with fresh solutions that will blow us out of the water. Maybe not a Chief Trust Officer – but you never know.

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