The report, 'The State of Responsible Technology,' draws on survey of 550 senior executives from nine countries and regions—the United States (12%), Canada (10%), Brazil (10%), the United Kingdom (12%), Germany (12%), India (12%), Australia (11%), Singapore (10%), and China (12%) - and in addition, it features a series of in-depth interviews with technology experts from organisations including H&M Group, MOIA and California Polytechnic State University.
Among the key Australian findings are:
- 55% of Australians surveyed believe technology should be used without causing harm to external or internal stakeholders, a much higher response to our US and UK counterparts who consider ROI more important
- When asked about tangible business benefits of adopting responsible technology, the top Australian responses were:
o Attracting and retaining top talent (50%)
o Prevention of negative unintended consequences (50%)
o Improved brand perception (47%)
o Better customer acquisition/retention (43%).
● The most important factors in Australian organisations’ responsible technology practice are:
o Accessibility and inclusive design (63%)
o Elimination of bias in AI (58%)
o Sustainability and environmental impact (52%)
● For Australian businesses, the main barrier to embedding responsible technology practices more firmly in their operations is a lack of senior management awareness (63%), followed by organisational resistance to change (52%) and internal competing priorities (43%).
Among the global key findings are:
● Nearly 75% of respondents agree that, eventually, companies’ technology decisions will account for ‘responsible use’ just as much as business and financial implications.
● When asked about tangible business benefits of adopting responsible technology, the top responses were:
o Better customer acquisition/retention (47%)
o Improved brand perception (46%)
o Prevention of negative unintended consequences (44%)
o Attracting and retaining top talent (43%)
o Improving sustainability (43%)
● The majority of survey respondents’ organisations have some level of official policies in place for enacting responsible technology initiatives.
○ Of respondents, 67% said their organisation has methodologies, guidelines, or frameworks for implementing specific types of responsible tech.
○ This was more common among public sector respondents than those working at financial services companies.
● The main barriers to adoption when embedding responsible tech more firmly in operations were a lack of senior management awareness (52%), organisational resistance to change (46%), and internal competing priorities (46%).
Commenting on the report’s findings, Dr. Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at Thoughtworks, said, “The reach of technology is extending into more sensitive and complex arenas, from credit decisions and medical diagnoses to criminal sentencing. It impacts everyday interactions with ourselves, friends and family, as well as our employees, customers and citizens.
“It is no surprise that companies are thinking more about how they’re building more responsible technology rather than focusing solely on parameters such as convenience or cost. At Thoughtworks, we’re advising organisations on their digital innovation strategies, and how responsible tech can build customer trust, reduce risk and attract talent, adding value and managing any unintended consequences of their digital products.”
MIT Technology Review Insights’ global editorial director, Laurel Ruma said, “As technology becomes a fundamental part of every business, and as we see consequences of its misuse play out, responsible technology use has become a critical business expectation. How companies interpret that obligation, however, and the degree to which their execution is matching up to their aspirations, is rapidly evolving.”
“At its core, the notion of responsible tech is about ensuring that everyone benefits from the deployment of technology. I’m encouraged by what I see in this report: today’s business leaders are not only starting to understand the urgent need for the responsible use of technology but they’re also seeing the solid, enterprise-enhancing reasons for doing so,” Dr. Parsons concluded.
The State of Responsible Technology’ is available for download here.
This new Thoughtworks-MIT Technology Review Insights research follows the launch of Thoughtworks’ Responsible Tech Playbook, which provides companies with technology tools and techniques to identify strategies to be more inclusive, aware of bias, transparency and to mitigate negative unintended consequences. Using these approaches helps technologists examine their product and technology choices from multiple perspectives, increasing the likelihood that harmful consequences will be uncovered.