Fairfax Tech Column

Fairfax Tech Column

18.1.2019 Fairfax Tech Column 130


Trust in business is an interesting concept. Without thinking too hard about it, we inherently have different levels of trust expectations in various organisations we deal with. Often it comes down to the importance of what we are purchasing, the price and the length of time we will use it.

When we see a five-dollar ornament at a weekend market, we probably don’t think too much about the trust factor. It isn’t a lot of money and if the ornament falls apart in a week, the world hasn’t come to an end.

There are other organisations where trust plays a much greater role. The medical field springs to mind immediately. In terms of technology, I have always spoken to my staff in my technology businesses that the level of trust required in the technology world is similar to the trust a business has with their accountant. You pay a sum of money to your accountant that is a reasonable sum of money; the relationship is normally multi-year; you don’t want to go to jail but you also don’t want to pay more tax than necessary and you want the best advice on how to structure your business.

In the technology world, the sums of money paid to a technology provider are similarly reasonable sums. They may be via a lease in the case of computer hardware for example or an ongoing bill payment with a mobile phone or an outright purchase but whichever way it is purchased, it is a reasonable sum. The relationship is typically multi-year and people want the best advice to deliver a solution and ensure they aren’t paying too much.

With all of that in mind, there are several surveys recently released that show the level of trust in a range of technology brands based on the experience that real people have with real products and real services. I have drawn this information from both locally and overseas.

In one survey of the world’s most reputable technology companies, I found some interesting results. At the top was Google followed by Canon; Sony; Microsoft; Nintendo; Intel; Philips; Amazon; Netflix and Samsung. Surprisingly, the highest value company in the world, Apple, was way down the list below other big names like Dell; LG and Cisco. Notice a distinct lack of social media sites in this list – possibly reflecting some of the scandals we saw last year. This type of survey relies on the feel-good nature of the business name and the perception in the wider world when people hear the name mentioned.

The next survey I found related to the culture within an organisation.  The top five in this list were Google; Facebook; Microsoft; LinkedIn and Adobe. A common link with Google between culture and reputation. I have always had a belief that if you create a positive culture within an organisation then success is not guaranteed but is much more likely.

If we then start to break down the brands to more specific products, we find more interesting information and possibly even some apparent contradictions. If we look at owner satisfaction with notebooks, Apple is on top of the list followed by Microsoft; Dell; IBM/Lenovo with Toshiba and HP tied. Printer brands show the specialisation in this segment. Fuji-Xerox sits on top of owner satisfaction with Brother up next followed by HP; Canon and Epson. Four of these five brands you would normally associate first and foremost with printing.

For television executives in this country, streaming services are growing at an alarming rate. Users were happiest with Netflix and Apple iTunes Video – keeping in mind that Netflix has eight times the subscriber base compared to Apple – with Google Play; YouTube Premium and Stan following in the satisfaction stakes.

Lastly I looked at Smart Speakers. Despite the hype associated with Smart Speakers, their penetration in the marketplace is still only at a low level. It may be a case of the apocryphal story about the two shoe salesmen sent to a developing country. One came home and said, “Nobody wears shoes so there is no market for our product.” The other salesman sent a message and said, “Nobody wears shoes so please send some containers of shoes!”

The satisfaction level with Smart Speakers loosely matched the penetration of the brands. Google Home came in first with Sonos One next and the Amazon Echo (and variants) followed by the Apple HomePod.

In technology, there is no doubt trust plays a huge role and if you want to see the brands that will prosper over the next year, the ones mentioned here – with the higher satisfaction and trust levels – will most likely be the brands to prosper.

Mathew Dickerson