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Perception gap identified between businesses and consumers on the control of digital technologies - Deloitte Digital Risk Survey 2021

15 December 2021

Key findings:

  • According to Deloitte’s latest Digital Risk survey of 2,000 UK consumers and 500 businesses, 59% of consumers are ‘somewhat’ or ‘highly’ confident that digital technologies being used by organisations to deliver services or products are ‘safe, secure, and sustainable’. However, for business leaders this figure rises to 78% – a 19 percentage point gap.
  • Whilst 65% of businesses are confident in their ability to resolve a customer services query using digital technology such as a chatbot, just 25% of consumers are confident in digital technologies being used by businesses to resolve such issues – a 40 percentage point gap.
  • Three-quarters (76%) of business leaders are ‘highly’ or ‘somewhat’ confident that they follow digitally ethical practices. However, this view is not shared by a significant amount of consumers, as one in five (21%) say they are not confident that organisations do so.
  • In the event of digital risk exposure by an organisation, 41% of consumers say they would switch to another supplier and 39% say they would request the removal of their personal data altogether.
  • In contrast, should a digital incident occur, 22% of business leaders would be concerned about being reported to the government or local data protection watchdog. Just 12% were concerned that consumers would cease using their products and services.
  • One in four consumers (25%) do not feel adequately informed by businesses in their use of digital technology.

Tom Bigham, digital risk lead partner at Deloitte, commented:

“The proliferation of digital technologies means businesses are facing new challenges when mitigating digital risk. These technologies bring a host of benefits, from delivering or triaging customer service enquiries to applying bespoke consumer experiences based on analysis of data. However, a gap is emerging between the confidence consumers have in digital technologies and the confidence business leaders do.

“While it is positive to see the majority of businesses confident in the ‘security, safety, and sustainability’ of their own digital technology use, this is not matched by consumer perception. The widest gap exists between the high proportion of businesses that perceive their own digital practices as being ethical, but this figure plummets from a consumer perspective; creating a 40 percentage point gap.

“Business leaders must recognise the lack of trust that their customers have in digital technology and, in order to close these perception gaps, businesses will need to improve how they communicate their digital risk strategies. This will go some way towards building brand trust and loyalty amongst consumers.”

Although businesses remain concerned about the regulatory implications or reporting requirements from a digital risk incident, there are also customer implications for them to bear in mind. Two-fifths of consumers stated they would take their business elsewhere following such an incident.

Charlotte Gribben, digital risk lead partner at Deloitte, said:

“One of the more surprising findings from our survey is the potential fallout from a digital incident. Those incidents most concerning consumers relate to human support or customer service interactions. Clearly, customer experience needs to be at the forefront of digital strategy as consumer expectations in this area increase.

“As well as driving digital innovation forward due to demand for business growth, companies must consider customer preferences and perceptions. Ethics is often considered too late in the digital transformation journey and business leaders must ask themselves what the potential outcomes and risks of digital innovation are and, crucially, keep the consumer front of mind when making these decisions.”


About the survey

Deloitte surveyed 2,003 UK consumers and 501 business leaders, headquartered in the UK, between 27th August and 22nd September 2021. Businesses ranged across multiple sectors, including banking (55), professional and business services (46), technology (30), and retail (26).

About Deloitte

In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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