Blue Bell, Pa. - Almost one in every three of the more than 1,700 senior-level corporate and technology leader respondents in a new international survey do not trust their companies' own abilities to handle private or sensitive information, and that same number are either unsure or don't believe that most of their business partners consider them to be trusted enterprises.These and other findings are part of a broad research project from Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys Corp., called the Unisys Trusted Enterprise Index, a survey designed to measure the importance, impact and influence of trust, privacy and security within the corporate world. Conducted in partnership with the Ponemon Institute, an Elk Rapids, Mich.-based privacy research organization, the study also found that despite a growing awareness of risk management and security issues in the corporate world, more than one-third of companies polled do not task senior leaders with protecting the trust that customers, investors and even their own employees have in those companies.

"Of concern is the disconnect between business and IT executives over how to build a trusted organization," says Mike Gibbons, vice president and general manager, Enterprise Security, Unisys. "Trust must be the cornerstone of every risk management plan. All senior leaders must be aligned on how to measure trust and ensure complete visibility of IT security and privacy matters throughout their organizations. They must think about security and risk management as a proactive strategy that can build trust rather than as solely a defensive measure."

The first phase of the research polled CEOs and other senior business executives as well as senior IT executives at leading U.S. and U.K. companies, and found a clear disconnect between the views of business leaders and technology leaders on the factors that build and erode trust. IT leaders placed a stronger emphasis on protecting privacy and IT security while business leaders focused on more financial-oriented measures.

Business Leaders:

  • Business leaders place value on risk management and good corporate governance practices to build trust much more than do IT leaders.
  • Business leaders believe negative cash flows, a lack of shared values and weak fiscal management are much more likely to erode trust than do IT leaders.

Technology Leaders:

  • IT leaders believe that positive media coverage, IP protection and responsible marketing practices build trust much more than do business leaders.
  • IT leaders find inadequate intellectual property protection, weak privacy and undependable IT erodes trust much more than do business leaders.

Among all industries included in the research, retail banking is the most trusted in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Insurance is one of the least trusted sectors in the United States, according to respondents.
Geographically, the top three most and least trusted industries are:

  • U.S. - Most trusted: Retail banking, healthcare and professional services. Least trusted: insurance, telecomm and entertainment and media.
  • U.K. - Most trusted: Retail banking, local government, education and professional services. Least trusted: entertainment and media, healthcare and retailing.

The research underscores that while more quantifiable factors such as compliance and financial performance tend to get the attention of boards and their leaders, "softer" factors that build trust--how a company treats customers or motivates employees--need equal attention.
Source: Unisys Corp.

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