Relationships Run on Trust, not Data

Every once in a while I read an article that gets me going, in a not so good way. Well, today we hit that once, in the while. It is an article that appeared on Mashable, titled “How Data is Redefining Business Relationships”. An added aside is that I typically like the articles which appear on Mashable, wonder if my trust of the content quality will be taking a hit. The premise of the article starts out with one good point, but goes downhill from there:

The business world still runs on relationships, and data is as much at home at a cocktail hour or on a conference call as it is in a slide deck. The game has not changed much at all.

Yes, the business world does still run on relationships. The ole, ‘it is who you know not what you know’ adage and ‘who do you trust’.  I have absolutely no idea what the second part of that phrase means, at all. Data is data, business professionals need information not data. Talking about data at a cocktail party, or sticking it on a Powerpoint, no thanks. The game, as the author refers to it, has changed a lot. But, here is where I really start to get frustrated.

Strategic relationships with colleagues and contacts both create and consume data. In fact, data isn’t cold and impersonal at all — that’s an important misconception to put to rest. Many of your most successful and trusted business relationships now likely run on data.

I suppose that relationships can consume and create data, though I am not sure what that means. If we Tweet back and forth that is data, maybe that is what the author means. The heart of the matter is the last part of the quote above. Relationships do NOT run on data, they run on, depend upon, go no where without, trust. Trust is the fuel that is powering the Social Web. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of data available, but as many survey’s and polls have shown, people trust people like themselves. When I meet someone new, sure, I do a little bit of due diligence. But, the future of that relationship is almost always based on some sort of trust barometer, from a mutual friend, colleague, or possibly looking at what they say and how they say it. Information plus Trust equals meaningful Insights. This goes for the people you would like to form a relationship with and companies you decide to do business with, that simple. Of course, data which leads to information is critical, but this is not new, it is as old as business.

The author goes on to state:

Remember the under-the-table note sharing going on in high school? Well, imagine having the smartest kid in school organize, prioritize and collect notes for you, no strings attached. That’s the kind of information advantage that is now available to us, through an ever-growing array of new social business tools. And it’s not considered cheating, either.

I am still a bit lost. So, someone really smart gives me data, not information, data. The interpretation of the data is up to me. I am not really friendly with the smart kid sitting next to me. As a matter of fact, if he is really smart, then why is he doing it? What is in it for him?

Am I over reacting? BTW, I completely left the “newfangled social CRM systems” comment alone, you should be proud of me!

10 thoughts on “Relationships Run on Trust, not Data

  1. Data is raw information. And trust is built on data + interactions. If trust is all about your history with a partner, does it mean you’ll never trust new partners?

    You say that “Information plus Trust equals meaningful Insights” – i would say that information + meaningful insights = trust

  2. Gabriel,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I am not saying I will not trust a new partner, but trust needs to be earned, no? I will trust based on references from friends and influencers, as a starting point. I see trust as built upon actions, not data. I do what I say I will do, you do what you say you will do. For example, you tell me that you are going to call a mutual client, because they are having issues. There is really no data there, and if you do not do it, trust is broken. I suppose you could say that it is information or data element that you did not call, but it seems closer to actions.

    I stick by the phrase you quoted, as without trust the information does not have meaning. Information from an untrusted source holds no value for me.

  3. Personally, the whole world runs on such strategic relationships. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with any amount of trust you can put into the system. Even in social media, you can equate a certain amount of risk with trust. Trying to add someone who is a mutual friend or even a random suggestion from a friend’s list can prove beneficial and insightful. That’s what fuels social networking- trust and that nagging risk to add strangers into as part of your network cattle. Thanks Mitch!

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