How to develop Trusted Relationships in a Global and Digital Business World?

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TIAO Managing Director and co-founder Joost Visser

TIAO Managing Director and co-founder Joost Visser about TIAO’s mission: helping companies develop new business opportunities online in a safe and trusted way – TIAO ‘Trust Is An Outcome’.

Trust is the cornerstone of any business relationship.

Small and medium sized companies (SMEs) have always relied on trusted personal relationships with clients, suppliers and staff members. Traditionally the people trusted the most have been family members and close friends or institutions such as banks and governments, using laws and contracts. In a globalised and digitalised business world building trust the traditional way is becoming more and more difficult.

TIAO’s big idea has been to create a digital business development platform for SMEs in which trust is inbuilt from the outset, decentralised and distributed by continuously strengthening the individual components that build trust: 

  • delivery of results
  • transparency – clarity about who you are dealing with and how results are delivered
  • accountability – people taking ownership of their actions and being responsive.

TIAO’s insight was that there could not be a single ‘silver’ bullet that would create Trust, the essential part of its business match-making platform.

TIAO’s solution is to continuously work on adding more trust-building elements – in partnership with Chambers of Commerce:

  • Only existing members of Chambers or new members vetted by Chambers can join the platform – reinforcing transparency and accountability, all users are ‘known’ to the Chambers they are member of, if there is a problem a Chamber linked to the user is accountable
  • All users develop a so-called TIAO ‘trust’ score on the platform which expresses how active they are in the platform (delivery – how often are they on the platform and number of opportunities posted) and how detailed their company and personal profiles are populated with data (transparency)
  • Having a moderator available at any point in time to help verify information (transparency), to assist in making connections (accountability) and helping identify business opportunities (delivery of results). 

Decentralised and distributed governance of the TIAO platform. The primary relationship on the platform is between SME and its host Chamber. This goes for all users – TIAO has no direct users.  Collectively Chambers sign off on the platform’s terms of use and data privacy policy, as well as admission standards.

As the platform grows – we expect to have more than 30 Chambers and over 20.000 companies on the platform by the middle of 2019 – we will continue to take further steps that build trust: 

  • In partnership with an academic partner we will be introducing artificial intelligence inside the platform that will assist the user with improved search results and recommended matches in a transparent way (the platform will explain to the user how results were obtained).
  • Adding more ‘trust validators’ to user profiles that signal increased trustfulness of a company such as memberships of reputable organisations, certifications or other ‘seals of approval’.

Building Trust is a journey that you take step by step – we at TIAO are in it for the long haul, keeping two old sayings in mind, one Dutch and one Chinese: “Trust arrives on foot, but leaves on horseback and “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step”