Do you need a Chief Trust Officer?

Another new job title due to hit the workplace… the Chief Trust Officer

This is a contributed piece from Drew Nielsen, Chief Trust Officer at Druva

It seems like there are new additions to the CXO list all the time. What can these new titles tell us about how companies can manage their operations, and why is the Chief Trust Officer joining this list?


Who is in charge of the business?

The first role to have “chief” at the front was the Chief Executive Officer, or CEO. CEOs are responsible for all business activities and revenues, from marketing and sales through to products, operations and support. The rise of startup culture has made the CEO title more prevalent over the past few years, while the role itself has grown in popular media with more coverage of how individuals are responsible for the success or failure of companies.

Following this, the next title to be elevated to the C-level was the Chief Financial Officer, or CFO, in the 1970s. As more companies extended their operations internationally or across multiple product lines, the job of keeping track of financial performance became more difficult. Consequently, the responsibility for financial reporting was consolidated, and the role itself was perceived as a more strategic one.

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As businesses have implemented techniques like marketing, or invested heavily in technology, new roles have developed to manage these commitments. Jobs like Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operations Officer and Chief Information Officer are now common and help to make up the management team of most enterprise organisations. However, these roles have traditionally been linked to one task or department.


How has responsibility changed over time?

Today, the growth of digital means that new roles and responsibilities are being created that cross the boundaries between teams. Chief Data Officers, Chief Analytics Officers and Chief Information Security Officers now supplement those traditional roles like CFOs and CEOs. While these positions normally report into the CEO or CFO, they also take responsibility for how the business approaches and manages a particular facet of their operations.

The latest role that can be added to this mix is the Chief Trust Officer, or CTrO. This position should be responsible for all business decisions around the trust between the organisation and its customers. This goes beyond simply looking at issues like IT security or data privacy; instead, the CTrO position should bear in mind all the aspects of Trust that exist between a customer and supplier.

As an example, customer relationships would normally fall under the remit of the Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO. CMOs have led customer recruitment, sales and support for the past two decades. However, the growth of digital channels through the internet – and the wealth of information that customers now have available to them – means that this is not as simple as it once was.

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Today, marketing campaigns can operate in real time, targeting individuals in ever more personalised ways. Yet these campaigns can easily use data that is sensitive or personal. Who is responsible for ensuring that this data is held securely? For CMOs, the technical remit around encryption, hosting and processing of data may be outside their skillset, while the CIO may not understand the full context around marketing.

The CTrO role aims to bridge this gap – by understanding the business thinking around data, CTrOs can help companies meet their objectives. However, at the same time, CTrOs can act as a champion for data privacy and security.


Why will trust will be critical for organisations in the years ahead?

With more data on customer activities available to firms, how this data gets used becomes important. Being able to create more accurate pictures of prospects through their activities on websites, social networking platforms and via interactions with services can be a tempting prospect for more investment.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) encapsulates some of this thinking already. By encouraging all organisations to treat customer data as valuable, GDPR should help improve data privacy and security planning. The Data Protection Officer role required for GDPR compliance should help, but the Chief Trust Officer position enables these concerns to be heard at the highest level.

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The issue here is not that companies don’t take security seriously; instead it’s that companies have to change their business models and approaches more rapidly than ever. According to Gartner, 56% of companies are already seeing profitability improvements from their digital business investments. This means that these kinds of projects will be all the more likely in the future.

However these new initiatives have to be managed effectively so they deliver both business benefit and remain compliant. By understanding the technical, compliance and user experience issues, Chief Trust Officers can meet this requirement.


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