Posted: 18 May 2022 10 min. read

Four tech innovations to enable digital trust today and tomorrow

A blog post by Diana Kearns-Manolatos, senior manager, Center for Integrated Research, Deloitte Services LP and Jay Parekh, senior analyst, Center for Integrated Research, Deloitte SVCS India Pvt Ltd. 

In today’s digital economy, digital trust—the  confidence among customers, employees, partners, and other stakeholders in an organization’s ability to create and maintain the integrity of all digital assets—is one of the core four dimensions of Trust that a modern business needs to consider.   

As technology evolves, so, too, do the threats it enables—putting digital trust at risk. It’s high stakes, and organizations can’t afford to get it wrong. Digital trust can be swiftly lost if customers or other stakeholders feel exposed or mishandled amid a security breach or cyberattack. According to a recent Deloitte study, three large global corporations with market caps of more than US$10 billion each lost 20% to 56% of their value—a total US$70 billion loss when they lost their stakeholders’ trust. 

Earning and preserving digital trust is top of mind for many leaders. And while leaders understand that today’s threats are bigger than ever, many find it cumbersome to decide on the right emerging tools and technology solutions to invest in, in addition to the existing traditional cybersecurity measures. 

Given the importance of digital trust, our new research article, "Earning digital trust: Where to invest today and tomorrow", draws on insights from 15 interviews and a global digital trust patent analysis to identify four technology "enablers" that can enhance digital trust. These include: AI-based data monitoring, cloud-enabled data trusts, blockchain, and quantum technologies. Combining these emerging technology solutions with traditional measures can bolster organizations’ ability to better understand user behavior, detect cybercriminals, prevent fraud, and quickly identify compromised data for not just today but tomorrow. 

AI and data trusts can enable digital trust today

While any approach to digital trust will need to include a robust integration of process, regulatory, and existing technology solutions across data, applications, and infrastructure, organizations can and should also be sensing for advanced technologies that can augment existing solutions or that may become standard digital trust infrastructures of the future. Our research revealed two advanced solutions organizations can consider adopting today to enable digital trust: AI-based data monitoring and data trusts—both enabled by a continuously maturing cloud market. Our analysis of global digital trust patents granted between 2015 and 2020 found at least 2,000 patents related to digital trust filed annually.1

Artificial intelligence-based data monitoring

The role of AI and machine learning (ML) cannot be understated for organizations looking to enhance digital trust. These technologies enable the development of systems that can learn from past events, identify unusual activities, and predict future scenarios—all potentially mitigating risks and threats.   

Organizations can improve digital trust with AI solutions focused on monitoring data, who accesses it, and how it’s used to ensure the following outcomes:  

  • Data is correct and unaltered: AI-based data monitoring can highlight if data has been tampered with, providing organizations with accurate information and insights.  
  • Identity and access management is governed: AI-based monitoring can help organizations monitor and detect unusual behavioral patterns, such as an unknown user accessing an account from a country that’s not typical or an unknown device using known credentials to access sensitive information. Behavioral analytics and machine learning algorithms, can help prevent data breaches and have a lower cost impact on companies.
  • Information is used as intended: AI solutions help organizations to monitor public sites or platforms to identify intellectual property or copyright infringements. Organizations can also think about emerging privacy-preserving techniques when leveraging digital trust to simplify data access and usage management. For example, an organization can ensure that data is only shared with the intended audience and used for the precise purpose it was collected.

Data trusts as an approach for digital information-sharing

Another promising emerging solution that our research revealed as increasingly viable for today is a data trust. Data trusts are a business model in which independent third parties validate, control, secure, and share information, governing the data's proper use and managing legal data rights on behalf of its beneficiaries.2  Some believe that this approach makes it possible to develop models for sharing information across industry sectors and between enterprises, governments, academics, and individuals. The benefits of data trusts vary based on the vantage point of the individual or organization. For example:  

  • From a consumer perspective, data trusts can empower customers with greater security and control for their data-sharing and usage. This can translate to greater trust and loyalty and more recommendations and endorsements. 
  • From a business perspective, data trusts unlock benefits such as reduced data silos, improved brand reputation, and ethical and transparent data collection and use.
  • From an IT perspective, data trusts can minimize the risks of data loss, breaches, mismanagement, or fraud by adding a layer of privacy and protection.

Blockchain and quantum can enable digital trust for tomorrow

Organizations need to be prepared for what’s next for digital trust and ready to ensure trust is created and preserved for not just today’s infrastructures but tomorrow’s emerging digital infrastructures. Deloitte’s Tech Trends research continues to show that blockchain and quantum are important technologies growing in their maturity. Our digital trust patent analysis shows that they can also have an important role to play here. Blockchain has witnessed a roughly 200% year-over-year increase in digital trust-related patents granted in the past three years. This could mean blockchain technology may have promising growth potential as an increasingly viable digital trust solution. Additionally, the number of quantum patents granted annually (related to digital trust), though being few in number, doubled in 2020, when compared to 2019—indicating that the technology could be seeing an early growth spike.

Given the time that will be needed to adopt blockchain and quantum as digital trust technologies of tomorrow, organizations can begin to keep a pulse on new opportunities and risks related to these technologies. 

Blockchain and data provenance and ownership

Data provenance and ownership are crucial for digital trust, especially when it comes to sharing data. Blockchain provides a mechanism to trust individuals, organizations, and contractual details through a trusted ledger. Blockchain can create an immutable audit trail for all transactions and processes, and it provides the ability to demonstrate where data has come from and who has handled it. It can also enable ecosystem participants to share a single “golden record” of data to create trust across the network. Blockchain can help to advance digital trust by enabling organizations to:

  • Maintain a trusted record of transactions to establish data authenticity and integrity
  • Help with trusted decentralized, tamper-proof, self-sovereign identities
  • Validate asset ownership, including via non-fungible tokens (NFTs) 
  • Enable faster, automated, trusted legal agreements with smart contracts

Quantum technologies

Additionally, quantum technologies can likely impact digital trust in three ways: immense computing power to support processing and analysis of massive datasets for AI-based detection, enhanced components for cyber systems using methods such as quantum key distribution (QKD) for encryption, and quantum-resistant cryptography to protect existing data and systems against quantum attacks. 

Quantum technologies are only now in their early growth stage for digital trust. At the same time, the number of digital trust patents being granted in 2020 mirrors where cloud computing was just five to ten years ago. Given the pace, speed, and complexity of today’s technology systems and change processes, thinking through future data and platform strategies and where quantum fits into your organization’s future digital business model—and digital trust model—would be prudent. 

Solving the digital trust puzzle?  

While there is no single solution to the digital trust puzzle, organizations that invest in new technologies today will likely be the ones to benefit most from enhanced digital trust tomorrow. AI monitoring, data trusts, blockchain and quantum are four emerging approaches organizations can consider. 

To learn more about them, access "Earning digital trust: Where to invest today and tomorrow" by Deborah Golden, principal, Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory, and US Cyber and Strategic Risk leader; Jesse Goldhammer, managing director, Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory Jay Parekh, senior analyst and Diana Kearns-Manolatos, senior manager, both with Deloitte Center for Integrated Research, Deloitte Services LP; and Curt Aubley, managing director, and Mike Morris, managing director, both with Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory. 

For additional insights on cloud data strategies check out "Five digital trust takeaways for the cloud data leader"


1 All information on patents is sourced from Derwent World Patents Index via Quid ( ). The purpose of the analysis is to identify general themes in digital trust. Deloitte did not review individual patents while preparing this analysis.

2 Sylvie Delacroix and Jess Montgomery, “Data trusts and the EU data strategy,” Data Trusts Initiative, June 8, 2020; Open Data Institute, “Data trusts: How do we unlock the value of data while preventing harmful impacts?,” 2019.

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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.