Corporate Digital Responsibility: Facing the bigger picture of technology change


Posted on: December 12, 2019 by Christopher Joynson

Now more than ever, whether through messenger-bots, data analytics or voice applications, financial services organizations are leveraging technology to forge a more intimate relationship with their customers.

As the sector pushes the boundaries of technology, and in doing so becomes more influential in the lives of customers, it needs to be careful that it does so with the right values at heart, staying on the right side of the public conscience. Huge media attention has highlighted the failure of some organizations to do so in recent years.

This is what Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR) seeks to achieve; to guide the progress of technological change and application in the years to come.

A grand ambition, admittedly, but for me the inspiration and passion for CDR lies very close to my heart.

Digital Exclusion: A new form of vulnerability in the digital world

Not too long ago, I asked my Gran why she doesn’t use online banking on her iPad.

This was her response;

Because I am terrified of it, that I would do something really silly, put too many noughts on the end of something. No, I really would not be happy, and all this talk about security - it just scares me even more.

My Gran is not alone in feeling this way. In 2016, the Federal Reserve found that only 18% of people over the age of 60 used online banking.

The reasons why people have chosen to snub technology are deep-rooted – often they extend beyond a lack of access or connectivity, to a lack of trust, comfort or practicality. They have not been persuaded that this technology should feature in their lives.

Conversations with my Gran make me realize that not everyone has embraced this ‘Digital Revolution’ that we hyperbolize so often. This is what we, in the Atos Scientific Community, have coined as the new Digital Divide in our society.

But let us not fall into the trap of thinking this is all about age. As the pace of technological change increases, and the concepts become more radical and invasive, the Digital Divide will affect all of us in one way or another.

›       How do you feel about having a voice assistant in your bedroom, listening to everything you say and do?

›       How do you feel about meeting strangers in virtual reality chat rooms?

›       How do you feel about having adverts pop-up on your social media feed for something you were just talking to your friend about?

You wouldn’t be alone if you felt discomfort with any of those concepts (indeed, you would have me for company), yet these things exist today. This feeling of Digital Exclusion is a new form of vulnerability in our Digital Society.

This is a prime example of how financial services organizations and those companies who push the frontiers of technology to bring digital products and services to the citizen, need to do so in a manner that is ethical and conscious of its impact on people like you and I - the people that embrace the change, and perhaps even more importantly, those who don’t.

It is one of the main reasons why we feel that Corporate Digital Responsibility is the way forward.

So what is Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR)?

CDR is a set of guiding principles that support organizations in developing their digital strategy with these broader societal elements in mind. It helps organizations to balance the vast opportunities that new technologies bring with the cautionary question: is this the right thing to do?

In the years to come, we feel that Corporate Digital Responsibility will become a standard against which all organizations are held accountable. It will gain public visibility much in the same way that Corporate Social Responsibility has. CDR will act as a differentiator for why an individual may choose to be employed by or buy a product/service from a particular company, or even to be employed by them.

To be part of the continuing discussion about how we bring Corporate Digital Responsibility to life, reach out to Rob Price or I to continue the conversation.

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About Christopher Joynson

Digital Transformation Consultant and member of the Scientific Community
Christopher is a Digital Transformation Consultant with experience of strategic projects across financial services and central government. As a member of the Scientific Community, Christopher brings his background in law and a fresh innovative mindset to offer holistic perspectives on the implications of technological change for our society. His main area of interest is the digital divide, and how we can ensure that sections of our society are not left behind by the digital world.

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