Posted: 11 Apr. 2022 8 min. read

Five digital trust takeaways for the cloud data leader

 An interview with Deloitte’s Chief Cloud Strategy Officer David Linthicum conducted by Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research’s Diana Kearns-Manolatos and Jay Parekh


While the threats to digital trust are well known to leaders, most still grapple with finding the best solution to address today’s needs. As companies continue to embrace a hybrid digital workplace model and digital attack vectors increase, it’s increasingly important for data to be protected as a greater number of unencrypted home networks now have access to company data. To take a pulse on how organizations can utilize cloud innovation and security as an essential technology to an organization’s digital trust strategy, we sat down with Deloitte’s Chief Cloud Strategy Officer David Linthicum and asked what he’d suggest for a CEO thinking about digital trust of data and information and advanced technology solutions.

He said, “I think it would be cloud migration; get as much of your data into the cloud as you can because that’s where the protections are, and they no longer exist on premise. People say, ‘I can go in to see my server, and therefore, I think it’s safe,’ but if you look at the big breaches over the last 10 years, the cloud’s nowhere near them, and that’s for a reason. The traditional data centers and folks that are leveraging security software are not updating and progressing with the times and, therefore, people can figure out ways to get at the data.” 

We unpacked that statement with some follow-up discussion, probing into the many opportunities cloud technologies bring to enable digital trust business models and other technologies.

Here are five key cloud strategy takeaways from that discussion:

1. Data security is continuing to mature in the public cloud.

Most of the data security encryption systems today exist in a public cloud, and while they may be expensive relative to traditional counterparts and require self-provisioning, they also allow for greater innovation and flexibility. They bring next-generation identity access management capabilities, tagging, and innate capabilities that just don’t exist on premise. Companies only have so much money to spend on tech, and public cloud seems to be where they’re placing their innovation bets. According to a study, the proportion of cloud spending within an organization’s IT budget has increased by almost 20% between 2020 and 2022; whereas hardware spending declined by approximately 10%.1

2. Federated cloud security models can enable greater digital trust.

Being in a federated cloud security model opens up the ability for data to move around more; but at the same time, it may force companies to have conversations about standards and controls. They may need to update their own policies or better manage consumer expectations around data custody. Data can be better distributed with cloud technology, but companies need to protect the data at all endpoints in the federated model.

3. Data trusts can act like a bank for your data across a third-party ecosystem.

Organizations continue to explore new business models and technologies that enable them to make data more consumable to different internal and external audiences while enabling trust through security by design. One example is data trusts, which are independent third parties that validate, control, secure, and share information, governing the data’s proper use and managing legal data rights on behalf of beneficiaries. With data trusts, organizations benefit from reduced risks of data breaches and mismanagement, while ensuring greater control and confidence in the insights generated.

In our new research, Earning digital trust: Where to invest today and tomorrow, we further explore how data trusts can enable digital trust, among other advanced solutions. And, from a cloud perspective, as organizations think about data and network cost and models across an ecosystem, typically everyone’s cost sharing across the network, and you are going to pay based on your consumption with that utility.

4. Financial operations and governance also have a role to play in digital trust and the cloud.

Cloud data governance comes down to the ability to figure out where data is being consumed and to allocate that knowledge to the consumers with documentation, chargebacks, or other approaches depending on the level of technology and financial sophistication. Financial operations and cost governance systems can help track data consumption and manage chargebacks and reporting to understand who’s doing a good job and leveraging digital trust by how much they’re investing in and adopting systems to enable it. Back to the network and ecosystem example, if a consortium spent a million dollars divided across 50 organizations equally, and one organization isn’t using the technology, it can erode trust.

5. Companies are too focused on encryption only and assume encrypted data is secure, but data is meant for consumption and needs to be secure across its entire life cycle.

A data fabric and data virtualization give companies the ability to maintain physical stores that are abstracted from the individuals or organizations consuming them. Companies can change the models to adapt to a given data analytics software application.

With a tiered data model, organizations can simultaneously enable trust in both the digital and physical realm, dealing with physical data in one way and abstracted data in another—aligned to compliance regulations and best practices. In this way, an organization can understand through abstraction when highly secure encrypted data may have object or functional relationships with unencrypted databases or APIs at every point of consumption and across all intermediaries. 

These five takeaways are just a starting point. Digital trust is a robust topic, and beyond traditional solutions and opportunities enabled by the cloud, AI monitoring, data trusts, blockchain, and quantum are a few other potential solutions gaining traction to enhance digital trust today. To learn more about these solutions, check out our recent Deloitte Insights article, Earning digital trust: Where to invest today and tomorrow.


1 Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD), The 2022 state of IT, 2021.

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David Linthicum

David Linthicum

Managing Director | Chief Cloud Strategy Officer

As the chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte Consulting LLP, David is responsible for building innovative technologies that help clients operate more efficiently while delivering strategies that enable them to disrupt their markets. David is widely respected as a visionary in cloud computing—he was recently named the number one cloud influencer in a report by Apollo Research. For more than 20 years, he has inspired corporations and start-ups to innovate and use resources more productively. As the author of more than 13 books and 5,000 articles, David’s thought leadership has appeared in InfoWorld, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Gigaom, and Prior to joining Deloitte, David served as senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, where he grew the practice into a major force in the cloud computing market. Previously, he led Blue Mountain Labs, helping organizations find value in cloud and other emerging technologies. He is a graduate of George Mason University.