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 Breaking into Trust with Jim Alkove



An Introduction to Trust

On episode seven of the Trust Podcast, an SAP podcast about cybersecurity, trust and today's landscape, SAP's Chief Trust Officer Elena Kvochko was joined by Jim Alkove,  former Chief Trust Officer at Salesforce and cofounder of Roanoke Data Security Corporation. Before his current role, he also held roles within cybersecurity at Salesforce and Microsoft. So how did Jim Alkove break into trust?

Jim's first opportunity out of college was working on projects with smart card payments as a software engineer at Microsoft. This project introduced him to the idea of cybersecurity through cryptography and security principles. In his next 17 years at Microsoft, Alkove ventured further into cybersecurity with roles such as the Chief Technologist for Microsoft's Digital Rights Management Business Unit, Chief Security Officer for the Interactive Entertainment Business (Xbox) and Corporate Vice President of Windows Enterprise and Security. In these roles, Jim did not only work closely with the technology but he also learned about the value of partnerships and the trust in which those partnerships are founded.
Alkove shared "We work with movie studios and music labels and service providers. And so it really was an educational experience in building big partnerships and negotiating big business deals, which, as you think about, you know a career in trust is another key part of your skillset portfolio."

Importance of Trust

Jim's role as Chief Security Officer at Salesforce helped him further understand the meaning of trust that is focused not just on security but also principles such as "leading with values and doing well". Alkove believes that it is important for SaaS companies to have a trust office because consumers are making decisions on more than just functionality and price. They are focused on factors such as sustainability, ethics, data privacy and more.

The Trust Workforce

This pivot in focus on building trust not only through security principles but also through values and doing good means that the skills needed to succeed in trust have evolved as well. Jim shared that "In the past, there has been a strong focus on domain-specific skills but now we should be on the lookout for people with high integrity alignment to the values of the company and the mission that you're trying to accomplish from a trust perspective." Alkove stated that these are people who excel at communicating, collaborating, and place value in diversity and inclusion.

Challenges with Trust
"Trust is often a fickle thing. Trust has to be continuously earned." Alkove stated.

Trust is something that organizations and people alike take time to build up. Consumers need to see that the company has their best interest at heart and that they are taking action to protect it. Trust is something that needs to be earned every day — the challenge is it a single mistake can ruin all the trust you have built up.

"Everything you do, not just how you're building your products or securing your customers data, but every single interaction including he processes you use to sell and support your products is a part of building trust." shared Alkove. This goes back to his emphasis on the value of diversity and inclusion — you need to have a diverse group of individuals in your organization to bring together different opinions and achieve the best outcome possible.

Evolution of Trust

Having a culture that lives by the right values on a day-to-day basis is a great start. But how can organizations keep up with the evolution of trust as a business category?

More companies are realizing the value of trust which is increasing conversations and investments around trust. However, the trust landscape is getting more and more challenging due to different geopolitical events and innovative ways to breach security. Alkove believes that most organizations may not be currently funded or organized in a way to succeed. Some changes that can be made to provide the support needed to succeed is to invest in infrastructure around trust, have dedicated executive or team to be responsible for trust, and figure out what needs that team can meet in regard to trust.

At the end of the episode, Alkove shared a piece of advice for organizations that are looking to invest in trust, "Talk to all of the stakeholders within your organization often to gather information and then set goals and metrics based on that information…Building trust has to be intentional and it has to be measured and if we don't measure it, we likely won't get it."

To listen to the full episode, click here: