It’s time to design for trust

Consumer trust is at an all time low. Questionable data practices, outdated business models and zero-sum experiences have made this so. But who is responsible for closing the gap? My experience has led me to believe it’s largely the responsibility of designers.

To give designers a toolkit to make this a repeatable process, I worked together with Data Transparency Lab to develop practical plays and a take to work playbook. In this talk I’ll guide the audience through the 3 plays they must make to close the data trust gap and make the trustworthiness of their experiences a sustainable competitive advantage.

Nathan Kinch – It’s time to design for trust

Nathan has been taking notes watching the presentations…

  • The attention economy was designed. We tend to forget that.
  • The internet is dying! We know that it has to change, so much has happened since its innocent early days.
  • Reframing eye tracking… we look forward to the twitter banter with Jared Spool!
  • Jobs To Be Done has some great discussion going on right now
  • Facebook… that’s all about trust
  • Diving into the evolving role of the designer… we forget opportunity cost when we’re in the process
  • Design vs code is a false dichotomy
  • Mindfulness – while it’s been part of Nathan’s life he’d never thought of it in the professional context
  • Cory-Ann – such a great reframe but I’m never playing poker with you
  • Conversational design – it’s reassuring that even big companies find this tough
  • Ethics – we are in a unique position of power

Themes that emerge:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Designing for people (not “users”!)
  • Ethical and trustworthy design

Which brings us to Nathan’s topic, trust.

What’s going on in the world right now? Breaches. Data breaches, or data policy breaches. Facebook isn’t as interesting to look at as Equifax, because Equifax was such an intentional abuse of data and power to make money. We have to be aware of this stuff because there are huge consequences. People committed suicide after the Ashley Madison breach, this is serious shit!

If you talk to people in industries like AI and IoT, you find that people still consider security and privacy as unsolved problems. We are going there before we’ve figured it all out.

Standards are emerging though – there are standards coming for tracking of consent, not every organisation has to solve all the problems from scratch. There’s no reason for us to make it hard to understand what we’re doing with someone’s data… all interactions are designed. There are humans behind the decisions.

We’re heading to more participatory business models, rather than the blunt attention/surveillance model. Participatory models are based on sharing profit with the users who provide the data.

The EU is trying to codify human rights in the digital world, which is something we haven’t seen before.

There is a data trust gap – people trust businesses more than they trust those same businesses to handle data. This varies by industry, eg. we trust our doctors more than the media.

A loose definition of data trust is whether the user will willingly share their data.

Three plays to build trust:

  • Get to know the market
  • Get to know your customer
  • Then evolve design practice to include data trust experience mapping

Book: Designing for Trust

It’s a book that becomes useful when you have a job to be done.

Where are we going with this?

  • we are in a very low point for data trust right now
  • there will be more data sharing in future
  • Greater Than X is working to open source their data trust framework – an example they’ve released recently is a pattern for up-front consent to use data

Let’s design for trust together. The time to design for trust is right now, but we cannot do it alone.

Give people power, respect their agency, give them control. This is great for business – trustworthy brands are more meaningful; and more meaningful brands perform better financially.

Designing for trust is not just good for people, it’s good for business. Together we can design for trust.

@nathankinch |

(upbeat rhythmic music) – Morning everyone, thank you very much for having me. I was planning today to start with a story and I ran it by my wife and she advised against it so I’m gonna do something slightly different. I unfortunately missed both Sarah’s presentations. I promise I don’t have anything against Sarah’s, it just happened to go down that way, but what I have done whilst observing in the audience is just take a few notes.

The reason I did that is early on yesterday I started noticing some fairly consistent themes. Now, I can’t promise you but I will do my best to try and tie those themes into my narrative today. So, really quickly when we think about what Stephanie spoke about, the thing that stuck out to me was that the attention economy, the kind of status quo of the digital economy today was designed and I think that was a beautiful insight. Sometimes we forget that and it happened quite a long time ago, so thank you Stephanie wherever you are.

Stephan, I love people that say the F word on stage so I made, I don’t know where you are, but you’re cool in my books.

The fact that the internet is dying, I fundamentally believe in that.

Centralised power, surveillance capitalism as the attention economy is sometimes known, decreasing agency, or at least the view that agency is decreasing.

Now, when it comes to distributed ledger tech, there are many uncertainties and I think highlighted limitations but in terms of the broad underlying protocol, it’s the type of thing that we as designers probably should be paying attention to.

It may well impact some of the stuff that we do going forward.

Eduardo is right here in front of me so I can, mate, I didn’t know that you’re a famous actor. Can I get your autograph afterwards? And look, that was really brilliant.

The thing that I loved most was the just like reframing iTracking, and I’m interested to see what Jared Spool has to say about that.

Has there been any Twitter banter yet? I haven’t been on Twitter? John, no? Mate, send him a Tweet.

Dave, we had a chat yesterday, amazing job to be done, sort of intro.

If you’re familiar with Jobs Theory and I did actually, I questioned Dave on this, sorry I can’t really see anyone properly so if I’m looking at you and you’re not Dave and you think I’m weird, just, I’m cool with that. There are a lot of competing ideas in the job to be done practitioner field and there are two guys specifically that are like going at each other at the moment. Both have valid points, both have fantastic proof points, I think when it comes to jobs to be done try out a bunch of different stuff and this is what Dave was saying, he’s kind of come up with his own tool kit based on a bunch of other stuff that other practitioners do.

Love that approach so thank you.

Facebook guys, we had, and Holly, we had a good laugh last night and although it wasn’t explicit and it wasn’t something that you mentioned, this was my key take-away from your presentation, totally biassed but you know, it was actually about trust, I think trust in the process, trust in the strategy, and trust in the value of working together to solve problems more effectively.

So, thanks Ben and Jamie.

Dianna, I love the idea of diving into the evolving role of the designer. Opportunity cost is something that I as a business owner have to think about all the time but sometimes when we’re engaged in the practise and the process of design, we do forget that, right? And I love the fact that you brought that up. Focus really matters.

And this thing, remember the designing code is a false dichotomy so thank you so much for bringing that up.

Rem, mindfulness, oh, man.

Mindfulness has actually played a huge role in my life, like it really has.

But I never like consciously thought about it in the context of my practise and so that reframed my thinking a little bit and I was like shit, and I caught myself on the phone a few times but I was writing notes, Rem, so wherever you are, I had a purpose.

And you know, I’m gonna be a dad soon, which is really exciting, and mindful listening, like I, you know, speaking of me being on my phone whilst Rem was speaking, but when I thought about that in the context of being a parent I was like, wow, that’s really powerful.

So, personally that was probably the biggest take-away. The fact that you brought up Centre for Humane Tech and that was brought up a couple of times yesterday. Hillary and I were speaking last night we spoke about something called the tactical technology collective, it’s

They’re based in the UK, I suggest checking them out if you’re interested in the space.

They do some really interesting stuff.

Coryann, I loved how you challenged us to reframe how you think about the future.

It was just a brilliant presentation ’cause it just was unexpected.

I just really liked it and although I like poker, I’m never playing with you. It’s just not a good idea.

I’ll lose my money.

Dallah, a great way to end the day.

I think conversation design as a broad discipline, broad area of focus is super interesting.

Really loved the pyramid, broken down front end verses back end, that was quite impactful.

I thought that kind of synthesised a fairly complex set of capabilities, team compositions, however you wanna look at it in a really nice way.

Actually first working conversation design and financial services a few years ago and even like, just when you’re getting started, the conditional logic and stuff like that, it’s tough, like it really is hard and I appreciated that you exposed the difficulty that you guys are going through at one of the biggest companies in the world but I am, I’m really excited about conversational design and I love this, the magic is in the voice. I wish you’d have finished with that, actually. Like, the magic is in the voice and then just walked off.

That would have been really cool.

Hillary and I, we actually conspired together to make up our presentations so we didn’t really, but when I think about what Hillary’s talking about and IEEE’s work, what I’m actually gonna be chatting to John Havens, the chair of the IEEE’s ethics board next week, it is probably one of the biggest challenges and opportunities that we face.

And I agree with Hillary fundamentally that we are in a unique position of power.

I’ll talk a bit more about that soon.

So, to bring it all together, key themes, diversity and inclusion, that’s the big one.

I’m not gonna say too much more about that. I’ll hopefully touch on it throughout the presentation. Designing for people not users.

I fucking hate the word users.

Again, I’m not gonna go into it, but I think we have to focus on designing for people. A lot of people used the word human beings yesterday. I don’t know, that still sounds a little bit like Navalua, Harari, or whatever, the guy who writes sapiens. It seems a bit like that to me, I just like the concept of designing for people and again that’s me synthesising, this is not gospel up here but I really took that away.

I think people are starting to focus on designing for people and not users.

And lastly, ethical and trustworthy design. Right up my alley, so we will kick off as soon as I relog in and I’m gonna start by talking a little bit about what’s going on in the world.

I’m gonna skip the whole introduction to me. I don’t think it’s gonna add a huge amount of value given that we’ve only got 20 minutes.

So what is going on in the world, I’m gonna start with data breaches.

Everyone’s spoken about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, guys, I’m not gonna stand up here and have a crack at you. It’s certainly not your fault.

The issue that we’re facing is much more systemic than any one company anyway and it was a data policy breach, not a data breach in any case.

The one that I like to talk about the most is Equifax. It’s not because of the scale or anything like that, it’s not even because they were social security identifiers, it’s actually because executives three days after a completely preventable data breach, which is just the result of gross negligence, they sold 1.8 million bucks worth of stock. Like, good for them, right? And then 37 days later, that’s when the notified the regulators.

It’s kinda like, what are you thinking? Like, seriously.

That is not the type of leadership behaviour that we expect and it’s certainly not the type of leadership behaviour that inspires trust.

So data breaches are on the rise, they’re proliferating, in terms of impact, in terms of quantity and frequency, again, not gonna touch on it too much but we have to be aware of this stuff because there are consequences to businesses, the average data breach costs about $3.6 million, the average and it negatively impacts people’s lives. People died or were killed or committed suicide after the Ashley Madison hack.

That is serious shit so we need to be thinking about data breaches very, very seriously.

Internet of everything or connected devices, I think IDG’s estimate is something like 20 billion connected devices by 2020.

Like, that’s a shitload of surveillance capability, right? Not inherently against it.

Absolutely not inherently against it, but if you go speak to an IOT security specialist or you go speak to a customer identity and access management company that focuses on connected devices like for DRAC, they’ll probably tell you that a heap of the security and the privacy stuff that we need to figure out is yet to be figured out.

So, we’re innovating, we’re doing good stuff but then it’s like, oh, shit, what’s gonna happen if something bad goes wrong here? We just need to be conscious of it.

Standards, the IEEE’s work, it’s really good. Like, you should check it out.

It’s worth the investment.

Big-ass report, but maybe get the short one to start off with and then if you have an appetite for it, dive deeper. Other interesting stuff is happening.

Come on, this might keep happening so I’ll walk over every now and then.

Kentara has released something for consent, a consent receipt specification and standard. Consent is something that in the EU many organisations are trying to rely on as their legal justification to process data. It’s probably gonna end up being the same here in Australia.

Consent will probably be the processing justification for things like open banking, consumer data rights, so that type of stuff is worth familiarising yourself with.

Another one that’s just super cool, like if you do data work, is the classification of everyday living, the cold standard, behavioural taxonomy, really, really impressive, robust work.

So standards are emerging in a variety of different contexts.

Digital ID is another one that we should probably pay attention to.

The reason that I think it’s important is ’cause we don’t always have to solve these problems. We can tap into stuff that exists, really good work. And standards, more broadly, should enable us to achieve inter-operability faster, which is absolutely critical if we’re to realise the potential of sharing data. Consumer behaviour, man that’s like, that’s pretty broad.

So I’m gonna go narrow, ’cause I’ve only got a few minutes.

The thing that I’d like to touch on, is too forward, I suppose.

So when I go into organisations and I’ve had the good fortune of working with many of the world’s leading organisations, focusing specifically on this space, and sometimes I speak to executives, and they basically say, “Man, no one cares, so why should we?”.

And interestingly, when I carefully guide them through the data that we have on this, they learn quite quickly that people do care. Like Hillary was saying, people feel like they’ve lost control.

It’s almost like there was a war, they lost it, miserably.

And now they’ve given up.

It’s a bit sad really, but it’s also been designed.

Like we, we make it so hard for people to understand how we’re using their data. Like, do you expect someone to read 26 page terms and conditions? Give you an example, right.

Seven lawyers tried to interpret Apple’s, and Apple’s often sided as like the privacy king.

26 pages, seven lawyers, seven days.

Had no idea what Apple was doing with the data after it.

What chance do we have? The answer’s none.

Business models, again, surveillance capitalism, attention economy, that’s kind of the defactor, unless you have a SAS play or something like that, which is cool, is more of a, you know a value exchange. What’s interesting though, is there are emerging business models in the personal information management services sector, like PIMS.

When someone first said PIMS, I was like, “I’m so thirsty”.

And then I was very very deeply disappointed. Their business models are much more participatory, as in, they will make use of your data in some type of way, right? They’ll orchestrate the flow of your data, and then if it creates a valuable outcome for you they participate in the value.

Isn’t that a novel idea? Very cool.

Data regulations, GDPR, e-privacy regulation, hands up, who knows about those regulations? Who’s heard about these regulations? A few of us, that’s actually pretty good.

I keynoted a big event in Germany last year, and the Germans are terribly privacy conscious. Like, really really progressive in terms of how they think about privacy.

It’s a massive room and like two people put their hands up.

So that’s really impressive, well done.

Basically what the European Commission are trying to do, is digitise the EU charter of human rights.

We’ve never had that before.

We really haven’t had rights online.

So that’s super exciting.

Hands up if you’ve heard of Consumer Data Rights? Here in Australia? Oh that’s surprising, less.

Well that’s basically coming into effect now, and it’s probably going to impact all of us. I’d suggest checking it out.

There’s some good guidance, it’s not super long, it’s not like the GDPR, you don’t have to read through like, you know, 400 pages worth of stuff.

Check that out.

And then the other thing is Mandatory Breach Notification.

Hands up if you’ve heard of that? A few more people.

Okay, interesting.

So all of those things are happening, right? And again, like this isn’t a five minute snapshot state of the world.

It’s a five minute snapshot state of the world in the context of data trust.

So, be explicit about that.

But what has it led to? Well, in 2017, who follows the Eldman Trust Berometer? Anyone? Interesting resource, really good resource. In 2017, trust was at a measurable all time low, and it was across, like we weren’t discriminating, right. Like trust was at a measurable all time low, across industries, across borders, all that type of stuff. This year the data’s pretty similar, pretty stagnant. Now, what’s interesting, given the context of what we do, at Greater Than X, is the Data Trust, so the trust a person places in an organization’s data practises is even lower.

So lets just say I trust my bank, right? To manage my money.

I don’t really have a great relationship with my bank. I’d move at the drop of a hat if there was something better.

But I trust them kind of, right? I trust that they will do the right thing by my money, I kinda trust in that they’re delivering me a kind of appropriate value proposition.

But if they came to me, if Commbank came to me and said, “Nathan, can you give us some of your health data for this thing?”.

I would, “Excuse me? What the fuck do you want that for?”.

You know, it just doesn’t align to the context. And so, when we measure data trust, at the moment people have a very low propensity to willingly share.

Remember, today’s status quo is that we’re forced to share, we don’t have a choice.

Zero sum game.

Tick the box or you get nothing, right? You bugger off somewhere else.

We’re talking about willingly sharing.

So, there’s not really a definition for data trust. Actually in our playbook you’ll notice we came up with a definition for data transfer, and see that I’m really happy with, ’cause it was like, there was nothing, I was like googling and all this type of stuff, like it, worst definitions, not meaningful at all.

But basically that’s the thing there, that’s the key thing, will they willingly share their data? Again, we’ve had the good fortune of working with a bunch of big brands on this. I’m very much struggling with this clicker. So if you see me looking stressed, I’m pretty comfortable up here speaking to you, but that, like that’s getting to me.

And, we’ve noticed a lot of consistent themes. And, one of them that was particularly pressing, was that some organisations, they kinda had an inability to get started.

It was like they were all intimidated by the challenge.

They needed to go from zero to one, you know, the trust gap that they face today to, not even a return on trust, not trust as a competitive advantage, but just get moving in the right direction. So we partnered up with the Data Transparency lab in Barcelona and we put together these three plays, put them into practise, and eventually converted it into a playbook. That was one of the big things of my presentation, John, and you gave it away, so, it’s gonna be a bit underwhelming at the end maybe.

Let me talk about these three plays really quickly, and they are contained in the playbook, so it’s not like you need to have me or one of our team members in the room to execute them. Play number one is about getting to know the market. Now, I spoke about this at a really high level a couple of minutes ago.

Getting to know the market doesn’t mean listening to some random guy on stage for five minutes, it means establishing a clear point of view. It means getting to know the behavioural regulatory and technological drivers that are impacting your ecosystem position. Again, establishing a point of view enables you to have a potentially meaningful role within the ecosystem that you operate, and inter operate within. Play number two is about getting to know your customer. Dave is probably well aware of this, it’s like, it’s so rare, that organisations understand the situational context, in which their value proposition becomes relevant. There is a systemic misunderstanding of the job to be done.

Now getting to know your customer isn’t just about jobs to be done, but it’s certainly part of it.

It’s about getting close to the person that you intend to serve.

You cannot become inherently trustworthy, if you don’t know who you serve and you don’t deliver a valuable, meaningful, and engaging proposition.

So once we’ve done that, we work with organisations and the playbook helps with this, to evolve design practise.

Now I don’t mean some crazy, elaborate, $100 million idea and design programme, I mean some really simple stuff.

We take two specific approaches.

Remember, we’re going from zero to one, not from one to 100 yet.

Zero to one.

First is, we’ve kind of dubbed, it’s not really official but, like data trust experience mapping.

Just taking like, existing service and experience design tools that basically every single one of us are super familiar with, and it’s just adding a different layer.

So it’s really easy to adopt, it’s really easy to make use of, and it gives us some pretty good qualitative insight.

When we start with qual we tend to back it up with quan.

So approach number two is data trust design experiments.

We use an experiment card, something we created at Greater Than X, basically it just makes experiments systematic and repeatable, and that’ll enable us to put to the test some of the hypotheses that we framed.

We wanna support or review what we think we know about how people might choose to share or not share, when we ask them to do so.

Again, put all these plays into practise, pooled them together in this playbook.

We actually started off selling it and it did really well, it was kinda like a timely thing in the EU. Again, the market’s very different here.

Like, if you don’t comply with the GDPR like it can get serious, like up to 4% of annual global revenues are the fines like, this probably isn’t a toothless tiger regulation, this is the most significant data regulation we’ve ever seen globally.

So it did really well, John and Rose have been kind enough to, you know, offer this to you guys for free.

I’d say, worse case scenario, you know, take it, have a skim through, if something is of interest, dive a little bit deeper.

It’s not like an ebook, you know, where you just sit on the train reading it. It really should be something that like you keep in your pocket, and it becomes useful when you have a job to be done at work.

That’s the intention anyway, let me know if we live up to that promise, my word. Okay so where am I going with all of this? I think there will be more data sharing in the future. I think more data sharing is actually good. The problem today is that we’re amidst this state of systemic mistrust. There is a power imbalance.

And you know, Facebook is part of contributing to that, but they are not alone, right? If you look at the World Economic Forum’s work from 2011, they define personal data as a new economic asset class, brilliant, that’s great. The key thing that they talk about when referencing how do we go from where we are today, to realising the value potential, and it’s massive. Forecasts are huge, of data sharing.

And it’s that we must design, consciously design, an inherently trustworthy ecosystem where individuals, us, organisations, and connected things, can share data, and participate in the value that sharing data creates.

Now we’re a long way off of that.

So in the future, more data sharing, but we need to establish this trustworthy ecosystem. What are we doing to contribute to that? Well, we were basically working on an internal data trust design system, and then it got to the point we were like, we should probably just try and OpenSource this. And so that’s what we’re doing.

Principles, patterns, practises, to help organisations design transparent value generating consequence accepting products and services.

We actually released the first, oh.

We released the first pattern recently.

Those are our six guiding principles.

The thing at NAB a few weeks ago, right, one of the chaps, can’t remember his name, but he was very entertaining, he came up with like this synthesised list of all of the design principles, and there was like 400 of them. I really don’t mean to throw another six at you. These are used in a very specific context.

And I don’t know how they compare to the other 400.

But for us they’ve been working really well. We released our first design pattern maybe about a week and a half ago? Two weeks ago? For upfront terms and conditions, why did we do that? Upfront terms and conditions are ubiquitous, they’re absolutely broken, we know that.

If you head to our website, greaterthanexperience.designtopnavinsights that will take you straight to our medium blog.

It’s probably to most recent blog on there from memory. Check that out, provide a bunch of guidance, and we’re gonna release a number of other patterns. Upfront consent, just in time consent, consent revocation, zero knowledge proof, so stuff that’s relevant to distributive ledger tech as well.

Why I’m here today though is, it’s not even really about the data trust design system.

Like I would love for us to collectively come together and contribute to that, I think together we are stronger but, it’s kinda because I’m aligned to Hillary and the belief that we are in a unique position of power.

We can actually influence the product services and experiences, that make their way into the hearts, minds, and wallets, of people all around the world.

And as Spiderman’s uncle down here said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Now, Greater Than X, tiny little firm, we’re only nine months old.

We can’t do it alone, right? But together, potentially we can.

And that’s what I put to you today.

The time to design for trust is absolutely now. But we cannot do it alone.

Now, talking about ethics, talking about trust, when I think about it, designing for trust is about designing for people.

It’s about giving people power.

It’s about respecting their agency, respecting their rights, and it’s about giving them control.

It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also really good for business.

So if you’re not totally motivated by just doing the right thing, and you need an economic incentive this might help. Trustworthy brands are inherently more meaningful. Meaningful brands out perform the stock market by 206% on average.

In fact, 50% of people will pay a premium to the brands that they trust the most. Designing for trust is not just good for people it’s good for business.

And I believe that together, we can start designing for trust today.

Thank you very much.

(electronic music)

When thinking about how to communicate this, a colleague of mine suggested a little Golden Circle action. So thanks to Simon Sinek, I’m going to start with why, talk about how then get into the what. To set a clear expectation upfront, this is a multi-part content series that will progressively expose the reasoning behind the Data Trust Design Principles and Patterns, whilst also progressively disclosing specific patterns you can use and contribute to.

I’m cool with uncertainty, so let’s also set the context that this is a multi-part series because I actually have no idea how many individual pieces of content will contribute to it. Maybe it’ll just constantly evolve, who knows.

With that out the way, let’s start with why!

Why does data trust matter?

Hideaway terms and conditions, implicit consent and other dark patterns being pushed to the users of digital products and services simply aren’t working. People don’t understand what they’re getting into. Their trust in brands is at an all time lowData breaches continue to rise at an astounding rate, often times with far reaching consequences. Major regulations like the GDPR and ePrivacy are upon us. Many people have become sick of the model. They’re beginning to take action to protect their privacy and rights.

We’ve got more data that ever before. We’re also more reliant on data than ever before. These capabilities and this focus gave rise to the belief that privacy is already deadThis view is misinformed and falsely assumes privacy equals secrecy. It does not.

New(ish) developments like Distributed Ledger TechnologyZero Knowledge StorageHomomorphic Encryption and a variety of other approaches, projects and capabilities are supporting Eve’s view of privacy by giving some of the power back to people. These emerging capabilities, specifically Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) and Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) are beginning to change the way people, organisations and things interact with identity and other data attributes.

All of the above is forcing the personal data landscape to change, quickly. How organisations ask for, process and generate value from data is transitioning. It’s shifting the power dynamic away from centralised towards a more distributed and decentralised model, where the people the data relates to consciously engage in the personal data value chain.

To cut a long story short, if we’re to use both big and small data in ways that generate real value for people (meaning we need to be sharing and processing data at scale, often), communities and society we need to establish a more trustworthy model as the new normal. We need Privacy and Security by Design (PSbD). We need positive sum thinking. We need radical transparency and we need an ecosystem that is inherently participatory. We need to focus on how data can be used to create mutual value.

If we can achieve this by collaboratively designing an inherently trustworthy data ecosystem, we can share more of the right data, just at the time’s it’s needed most. The impact of such an ecosystem could be anything from assisting with positive behavioural change that collectively impacts the health of our planet through to real-time outcomes like personalised meal prep that fits your ethics, budget, genetics and health goals.

So even though we’re starting very small, we’re thinking as big as we can.

How can data trust and DTbD help us achieve this?

If people have a high propensity to willingly share their data, if organisations are incentivised to process data ethically, and if an entire ecosystem is optimised for individual, communal and societal outcomes, data can become an asset that positively impacts us all.

To make all of this happen we shouldn’t push it on people. We should take ownership. In fact, we have the power to impact the types of products, services and experiences that make up people’s daily lives. We therefore have the opportunity to empower the people using these products and services. You know what Spider Man’s uncle would say here. And it’s true — this is a responsibility.

Our experience at >X leads us to believe this has to start with values, ethics and guiding principles. Those principles need to be actionable — we need to operationalise them in meaningful ways. This means they must help us design better customer propositions. They need to help us reduce costs and mitigate risks. They also need to enable us produce data-driven propositions that boost top line and competitively differentiate our brand.

This is a big ask, so to answer the how question, we’re proposing the principles we’ve developed become part of your daily consideration set. We trust these principles and the patterns that follow will assist us all in empowering, informing and enabling the people we serve as customers to make choices about how the engage in the digital world. To draw on an analogy, think of Customer Development Lean Startup — they’ve become movements. Together with Human Centred Design they comprise the broadly accepted approach to defining, designing and deploying new products and services. By adding DTbD to this movement we can ensure our products and services are inherently trustworthy and inherently human centric.

We‘ve already observed that DTbD changes behaviour. It changes how we approach product design, product development and product marketing. As we operationalise DTbD in more situations across a broader set of organisations and industries it’s our expectation the products and services themselves will change. We’ve observed this also changing the relationship people have with their data. For the first time ever, people actually get the gist of what’s happening. They have clear visibility of the tangible progress their data is helping them make.

Over time — through a heap of trial and error — we’ expect the market to develop new design patterns that are widely accepted and used by billions of people in ways that make data sharing more valuable, meaningful, engaging and of course, safe.

So we’re starting by socialising these principles. We’ll then progressively release different patterns for interactions like upfront terms and conditions, just in time consent, consequence clarification, progressive disclosure and the various actions people can take (particularly in the EU) as part of their data subject rights. We’ll pull this together into a coherent design system — something that complements existing design collaboration workflows and the tools we use on a daily basis.

We’re very keen to make it happen quickly, so get in touch if you’d like to work with us on this.

With the why and how out of the way, here’s the what.

What is data trust?

Through years of dedicated work we’ve come to learn that data trust is the sum of data transparency, value delivery and consequence acceptance. A brand must therefore say exactly what it will do and do exactly what it said, whilst accepting and clearly communicating the positive and negative consequences of their actions.

“…data trust is the sum of data transparency, value delivery and consequence acceptance”

In simple terms Data Trust is the trust a person places in an organisation’s data practices. Data trust has been earned when people have a high propensity to willingly share their data. As we now know, this is not the case today.

What is Data Trust, by Design?

Data Trust by Design is the practice of designing transparent, positive-sum, value-generating experiences that give people the ability to make free and easy choices about how their data is and isn’t used.

DTbD Principles

Data trust design principles give organisations a foundation to design processes, workflows and experiences that are inherently trustworthy. These principles align to the stages of a person:organisation relationship. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. They provide a simple frame of reference for how to treat people and their data at each stage of the relationship.

There are 6 principles guiding this practice.

Principle 1

First contact: Define shared objectives

People and organisations have stuff to achieve — stuff they’re motivated by. For a person:organisation relationship to really work, objectives need to be clearly stated by both parties upfront. If common ground is reached, proceed. If common ground can’t be reached, maybe it’s not meant to be. In either case the upside is that you may have just won yourself a brand advocate. Remember, people value transparency.

In practical terms, this means truly practicing data minimisation. Simply communicate your objective whilst finding ways for your potential customer to do the same. At this point in time there is no need for identity or any unnecessary attributes to be exchanged. KISS and decide whether it’s worth proceeding with further data processing quickly.

Principle 2

Before every interaction: Make the purpose clear

To make use of people’s data to fulfil a value proposition, your purpose has to be explicit. It has to be understood. People need to be informed, and only once they’ve made a choice in your favour do you proceed.

In practical terms this means catering to the context. If the interaction is simple and transactional, give people the most important information first. But give them the ability to drill down deeper if they feel it’s necessary. If specific requirements have to be met, ensure these are communicated explicitly. People need to understand the context if they are to assess it.

If you can explain your purpose in a sentence, picture or simple interaction, do it. If it requires more granularity and support, you’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile. Remember, people need to be informed and empowered so they can make a choice.

Principle 3

Establish a baseline: You are equals

The most successful relationships are built on a foundation of mutual respect and trust. Mutual respect starts with attitude, behaviour follows.

In practical terms, clearly state the control and access rights the person you’re building a relationship with has and relate it to your data processing purpose. Just like you, people need ways to make use of their data, withdraw your right to use that data and take their data to other relationships.

If you can do it, so can they. In this new world, people and organisations exchange value as equals.

Principle 4

Take your time: Trust has to be earned

Trust compounds over time. It’s the sum of radical transparency, consistent value delivery and a willingness to accept consequence.

Data trust relies on a show, don’t tell model. Give people the opportunity to try before they buy. Give them simple, light touch ways to engage with your brand. Show them that you do what you say, and you’re willing to own the consequence of your actions.

Design for the long game. Quarterly reporting isn’t the metric that matters most. Sustained customer value creation is.

Principle 5

Mutual success: Share in the value you co-create

They call it value exchange for a reason. By focusing on the value you create, rather than the value you take, it’s very likely you’ll begin delivering superior outcomes to the people you serve. If you do this consistently people will trust you to deliver.

Practically this means evolving your design practice and business metrics. It means focusing on the value, meaning and engagement you create for the people you serve, not just the metrics of old like CAC to LTV ratio.

When utilising people’s data to create value for them, make sure they understand how their data is being used to create that value. Magic tricks are great but feeling like the magician is much more rewarding.

Principle 6

Say goodbye: Make endings matter

Even the best relationships must end. The trusting relationships you have with the people you serve are no exemption. When the time is right, regardless of who activates the ending, make it simple and easy for both parties to get out on the best of terms.

Practically this means giving people options. It means giving them ways to get all of their data, and helping them use that in whatever comes next for them. Think beyond people’s right to portability. Endings are contextual to each relationship. Some people might want assistance enforcing their right to be forgotten. If so, make this happen seamlessly. Give them visibility of tangible progress and show them clearly you’ve done exactly what they’ve asked you to do.

We’ve been formally putting these principles into practice for a few months now. We’re currently working through the challenges that relate to how we operationalise them, how we reference them as part of our design workflow and how we use them to design specific patterns that are new, inherently trustworthy, yet familiar enough that we don’t lose sight of the leaps and bounds of progress our industry has made over the past few decades. We’ve got zero intention to make it harder for people than it needs to be.

The output of this work will be shared with you progressively. The first of which will be a design pattern for upfront terms and conditions.

DTbD: Upfront Terms and Conditions

I’d like to say a massive thank you to our team for all the help, guidance and support they constantly offer. I’m looking forward to experiencing the impact designing for data trust will have with all of you.

Stay tuned for more or get involved if you’d like to be part of the action sooner.


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