Let's Be Clear: Transparency As A Strategic Advantage

Dan Wellers and Christopher Koch

Customers are becoming more interested in basing spending decisions on their personal beliefs. If companies’ values don’t align with their customers’, it could mean lost business.

As technology makes discovering an organization’s values increasingly easy, companies must ensure that customers like what they see. That means pursuing greater transparency, so that customers can trust that organizations are who they claim to be.


In 2017, 28% of customers punished companies for bad behavior a 9% increase since 2013.1
Public reports of misconduct slash a company’s market value by an average of 41%.2
A good reputation lowers the cost of doing business, attracts investors, and can justify higher prices.3
Ethical leadership correlates with a nearly fivefold increase in return on assets.4

Link to Sources


The vast amounts of company data generated by digital technologies are reinforcing customers’ desire to advance their values through their purchasing decisions.

It will also force companies to respond to that desire because people are more easily finding evidence of a company’s authenticity and trustworthiness, or a lack thereof—and broadcasting it around the world on social media.


Customers Want to See Everything

Companies and organizations are responding by applying a wealth of new technologies to the challenge of increasing transparency. Emerging examples include:

  • A secure registry of workers and contracts to identify signs of forced labor.
  • A traceability platform for gemstones to thwart counterfeiting and black-market sales.
  • Produce monitoring with blockchain to trace food-borne illnesses to specific farms, crops, and even individual items.
  • Groups that monitor the performance of brands’ and companies’ environmental, social, and governance-related business practices.

The Difference Between Exposed and Transparent

Companies should commit to making sure their products or services mesh with their core customers’ values. To do that, they must understand who these customers are and what they value most.

Transparency is only a liability when companies have fallen out of step with customer values. Proactively building transparency into operations gives customers ongoing proof of how companies’ values align with theirs. Those that do this well can make it a strategic brand advantage.


Download the executive brief Let’s Be Clear: Transparency As A Strategic Advantage.


Read the full article Your Values in Plain Sight: The Future Is Transparency Through Tech.


About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Digital Futures Global Lead and Senior Analyst at SAP Insights.

About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing.