Companies both large and small only exist as long as they have customers who enjoy their goods or services. But to do this, they must earn and maintain the trust of their customers. Companies also need to understand the various risks involved in their operations while projecting a high level of corporate trust.

In a 2014 article, we discussed how the chief risk officer (CRO) should work in tandem with the chief information security officer (CISO), chief security officer (CSO) and chief privacy officer (CPO). But they are now joined by the newest member of this executive family: the chief trust officer (CTrO).

The Crowded C-Suite

The C-Suite is crowded. Most are familiar with the CEO, COO, CFO, CTO and CSO; these roles need little explanation. The CISO, CPO and CRO roles are becoming more ubiquitous within the C-suites of both large enterprises and medium-sized conglomerates.

The CISO bears the information security responsibilities for the company’s infrastructure and dictates the manner in which the company engages with partners and customers. The CPO role has become more important over the past two years, especially with the changes in Safe Harbor and the arrival of the new Privacy Shield Framework, which was agreed upon in mid-July. These changes require the CISO and CPO to delineate clear pathways to resolving claims of privacy infringement.

The CRO, meanwhile, works hand-in-glove with the CISO and others to identify and mitigate day-to-day risks. This enables the company to form a level of corporate trust with its personnel, clients and customers. The CRO implements business-driven IT solutions and procedures and enforces policies to support the established framework. Should a risk be identified with no immediate mitigation solution, the CRO determines the appropriate course of action.

Maintaining Corporate Trust

The CTrO, on the other hand, is charged with maintaining trust and confidence with the customer base. This executive’s main function is to ensure that customers’ data is treated appropriately. The CTrO enables the company to compete on trust, according to CSO Online, and bring issue of corporate trust to the forefront of every business discussion.

A trust officer must engage with customers and bring their concerns to the rest of the C-suite. When two products are similar in terms of features and cost, customers will always choose to buy it from the vendor they trust. Corporate trust is a key differentiator in 2016, and organizations must be prepared to address the subject in the boardroom.

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