Business leaders are ignoring the ethical challenges of emerging technologies according to the latest Trendlines report. In doing so, they risk losing the trust of both their customers and employees.
The survey conducted by Avanade canvassed 1,200 C-suite, senior-level IT and business decision makers in 12 countries to reveal that while most respondents (82 per cent) agreed digital ethics is the foundation of any successful artificial intelligence (AI) program, an almost equal number (81 per cent) said they lack confidence that their organisations are prepared to address ethical issues related to AI, robotics and similar technologies.
Aaron Reich, Avanade Senior Director, Emerging Technologies and one of the report’s authors, said digital ethics is one of the fastest growing concerns for many businesses; accelerating up the boardroom agenda even faster than security.
“Increasingly, clients are coming to us to have business-critical discussions which reinforce the central role a robust, digital ethics framework has in building long-term trusted relationships with customers, employees and other stakeholders,” Reich said.
While many large companies already have compliance officers, Avanade predicts a significant increase in senior digital ethics positions over the next one-to-three years.
These roles could have broad-ranging scopes across the business areas impacted by digital ethics, including compliance, risk management, product development, marketing, brand and reputation management, corporate citizenship and more.
“While digital ethics is fast becoming a boardroom discussion item, it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that their company is considering the ethical consequences of their actions,” says Reich.
“Taking action means establishing guiding principles and making them transparent internally and externally, creating playbooks, providing training, engaging ethics hackers to identify potential ethics issues, and participating in public discussion and advocacy. Most importantly, it means enabling employees with best practices and tools to build ethics-by-design into their work.”