Africa, Enterprise, Middle East, Technology

Data helps build customer trust: MEA business leaders

Business leaders in the Middle East and Africa strongly believe that data helps build trust from its customers, its own business processes, and across its partner ecosystem, according to a recent study by IBM.

The 20th edition of IBM’s bi-annual C-Suite Study, “Build Your Trust Advantage,” polled nearly 900 C-level executives across MEA and examined how companies in the region are achieving market leadership by emphasising trust in their use and sharing of data.customer trust

The study, which was conducted by IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) in cooperation with Oxford Economics, found that 91 percent of leaders in MEA, compared to 82 percent of their peers globally, strongly believe data helps create a strategic advantage in strengthening their level of customer trust as well as their bottom lines.

It also noted that business leaders in MEA also outpace their peers in the region by 48 percent in their capacity to respect customers’ data privacy as a core competitive advantage. Globally, torchbearers outpace their peers by 22 percent.

“Today, data is considered one of the most important assets that any organisation possesses,” said Hossam Seif El-Din, vice president, Enterprise and Commercial, IBM Middle East & Africa (MEA). “Not only does data have the power to differentiate businesses from their competition but transform entire business models. According to the recent C-Suite study, we are seeing that the majority of leaders in our region strongly believe data helps create a strategic advantage in strengthening their level of customer trust as well as their bottom lines.”

While the study focuses on the need for transparency on how companies handle customer data, it also highlights the importance of trusting data that’s within an organisation. Leaders in MEA were found to take great pains to ensure that the data within its own walls is accurate and clean so they can leverage it to make the best-informed decisions on important business ventures, such as developing new business models and entering new or emerging markets.

In MEA, 80 percent already extensively use data to develop new business models, compared to a global average of 70 percent, the study noted.

It also pointed out that while 73 percent already use data to make informed decisions on entering new markets, compared to a global average of 66 percent. Furthermore, the IBM report also revealed that 70 percent of C-suite executives in MEA believe that automation of decision-making processes will increase in their business landscape over the next 2-3 years, compared to 65 percent of their peers globally.

The study underlined the importance of creating trustworthy ecosystems. Data that simply stays within the organisation is more likely to drift out of date than to grow in value. Leading organizations are liberating their data while simultaneously de-risking data exchanges in a shared ecosystem – allowing it to circulate widely, without sacrificing their responsibility to secure permissions and safeguard it.

While the study provides the guidance that companies should always practice transparency, reciprocity and accountability when handling data and engaging customers and business partners, other recommendations include:

  1. Strengthen relationships with customers by becoming trusted custodians of personal data, demonstrating transparency by revealing data about offerings and workflows, and using the trust advantage they’ve earned to create differentiating business models.
  2. Build confidence in data and AI models enterprise wide. Stimulate a culture of true data believers and data-based decision makers, and in turn, elevate experiences for customers and partners along their value chains.
  3. Learn how to share data on business platforms without giving away competitive edge. Turn the corner from amassing data to determining how best to monetise it, including how to build ecosystems to create new exponential value.
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