Let’s start a revolution
COO for Worldline UK&I and member of the Scientific Community
Digital Transformation Consultant and member of the Scientific Community
Posted on: 22 November 2018
If someone had told me 25 years ago that I would actively seek to pay more for my food, clothing and toiletries I would not have believed them. Then rose the age of the conscious consumer and entire business models began to be built on corporate social responsibility. Now I want my eggs free range, my shower gel organic and to know where my clothing was made, by whom, and how much they were paid. Times have certainly changed.
We envisage this very same transformation in technology. Corporate Digital Responsibility will be a revolutionary movement that we must all be prepared for!
Beginning at the grass roots
Much like the rise in CSR, markets and governments will respond to demands from citizens.
This trend has already begun. People are beginning to worry about the impact of technology on themselves and their children.
There have been calls for less addictive technology design, which have been acknowledged and committed to by firms such as Apple. Studies suggest that Facebook users are on the decline, perhaps due to the recent concerns regarding data misuse.
Distrust and disenchantment are forcing some giants of tech to change their business models and take a wider view of their societal impact.
Policy-makers and governments
The issue is now elevated to policy-makers who are keen to understand the impact technology is having and put some boundaries in place to protect people.
In business, we have seen regulations emerge on data privacy, GDPR and PSD2, which will have a wide impact on the business models and every organization from the high street to the international banking industry.
In health, Britain’s Chief Medical Officer has been instructed to draw up guidelines for social media use following growing evidence of the detrimental impact it can have on young people’s mental health.
We believe that this growing movement will demand fundamental transformation within business to be more cogniscent of the potential impact that their products and services have on society, and the way they respond will be an identifier of their success in the future.
In our thought leadership publication, Journey 2022: resolving digital dilemmas, we talk about how the technology breakthroughs over the last two years in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things and quantum computing, will present both significant opportunities and challenges for business, employees and society as a whole.
Already the debate about the introduction of AI and its impact on jobs has taken hold. Autonomous vehicles, the energy and utilities sector, homeland security and defense must all grapple with the ethics of emerging technology whilst simultaneously ensuring they’re keeping pace with digital transformation.
Baking ethics in
For those at the forefront of research and development the issue is more pressing still.
Let’s not forget that one of the conditions of Deep Mind’s sale to Google was that they set up and invest in an ethics board. Musk also created a research group into the ethics of AI saying in 2014 that AI accounted for “humanity's biggest existential threat”. [reference: Life 3.0, Max Tegmark]
Where from here
Lines will have to be drawn on a personal level and for business they cannot just follow, they must also begin to lead. Modelling the impact of technology, operating models and measures, on their workforce, measuring success in both financial and human terms. Finding the right balance.
Who can forget the scene of Zuckerberg facing congress this year. He claimed a level of naivety on the societal impact of his business. He will likely be the last of the tech giant CEOs who will have the ability to play this card. All business should take note.
Paradoxically, the future of digital is looking less digital.