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Open, Federated and Trustworthy Platforms Power Digital Business

Trustworthiness has always been a factor that underpins business-to-business relationships and consumer brands. Digital business is no different in that respect – it’s just that the task is now exponentially greater and more critical because everyone in the value chain, from customer to broker, supplier and distributor, is now digitally connected. One breach at any point in the network and everyone feels the pain.

Gartner is one of the many analyst groups exhorting enterprises to embrace the practices and technologies that implement and measure digital trust. “CIOs building a digital business should use a digital trust index to improve transparency as they leverage business ecosystems of people, businesses and things to create and deliver value, and to help enhance the overall performance of the business,” writes analyst Kristin R. Moyer.

This approaches digital trust from a conceptual viewpoint, which always makes motivation an uphill task. Executives in the boardroom will question why investment is a priority if they can’t see the immediate gains – or pain. But an initiative by DXC Technology and the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany to build a Smart Connected Manufacturing platform beautifully illustrates the paramountcy of digital trust in a concrete demonstrator.

Johannes Diemer of DXC Technology and co-author of the Implementation Recommendations for the Industry 4.0 Future Project for the German federal government explains that: “A critical issue where we have achieved breakthrough is the question of what role trust and acceptance would play in the establishment of a federated manufacturing platform. We have built an ecosystem secure enough to reassure and attract potential users.”

Achieving acceptance for the demonstrator, called Virtual Fort Knox, calls for a clear value proposition for each participant, a convincing security approach, including the organizational set-up and finally trust. “We call it the triangle of acceptance, and trust is an essential third factor, built upon transparency and communication, which transfer the other two values,” Diemer continues.

Further contributory factors in establishing trust are active participation by platform users and the assurance of data sovereignty. Securely exchanging data while ensuring data of record maintains its sovereignty is necessary to realize the potential of Industry 4.0, but from the legal point of view, this has not yet been solved in many European legal systems.

“In law, data has ownership and thus copyright once it is used. But for the purposes of Industry 4.0, there is a requirement to protect data in a precompetitive scenario while it is being exchanged during value creation,” points out Diemer. The emergence of open, federated and secure platforms, such as the DXC /Fraunhofer Smart Connected Manufacturing demonstrator, will provide the means to build digital trust into value networks.

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Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.