A new report shows that 73 percent of business leaders see the responsible use of technology as a pressing business need.
Thoughtworks and MIT Technology Review Insights partnered to explore how organizations understand responsible technology use, what motivates them to adopt more responsible practices, and what benefits they hope to gain from such adoption.
The report, “The State of Responsible Technology,” surveyed 550 senior executives from nine countries — the United States (12%), Canada (10%), Brazil (10%), the United Kingdom ( 12%), Germany (12%), India (12%), Australia (11%), Singapore (10%) and China (12%). In addition, it features a series of in-depth interviews with technical experts from organizations such as H&M Group, MOIA and Cal Poly State University.
The report found that nearly 75 percent of respondents agree that, ultimately, a company’s technology decisions will have as much impact on responsible use as business and financial impacts.
When asked about the tangible business benefits of adopting responsible technology, the top responses were: better customer acquisition/retention (47%), improved brand recognition (46%), prevention of negative unintended consequences (44%) ), attract and retain top talent (43%), and improve sustainability (43%).
Most of the organizations surveyed responded to have some level of official policy in place to implement responsible technology initiatives. Of those surveyed, 67 percent indicated that their organizations have methodologies, guidelines, or frameworks for implementing specific types of responsible technology. This was more common among public sector respondents than those working in financial services firms.
According to the report, the main barriers to embedding responsible technology more firmly in operations are lack of senior management awareness (52%), organizational resistance to change (46%) and internal competing priorities (46%).
“The technology’s reach is expanding into more sensitive and complex areas, from credit decisions and medical diagnoses to criminal sentencing,” said Dr. Rebecca Parsons, Chief Technology Officer at Thoughtworks.
“It affects our day-to-day interactions with ourselves, our friends and family, and our employees, customers and citizens. Not surprisingly, companies are thinking more about how they build more responsible technology, rather than just focusing on things like convenience or cost.
“At Thoughtworks, we advise organizations on their digital innovation strategy and how responsible technology can build customer trust, mitigate risk and attract talent, add value and manage any unintended consequences of their digital offerings.”
Laurel Ruma, global editorial director of MIT Technology Review Insights, added: “As technology becomes a fundamental part of every business, and we see the consequences of its misuse unfold, responsible technology use has become a key business expectation .
“However, how companies interpret this obligation, and the extent to which their execution matches their aspirations, is evolving rapidly,” Ruma said.
“At the heart of the concept of responsible technology is ensuring that everyone benefits from technology deployment,” Parsons said.
“I’m encouraged by what I see in this report: Today’s business leaders are not only beginning to understand the urgent need to use technology responsibly, but they’re also seeing solid, enterprise-enhancing reasons for doing so.”