The beneﬁts of digital technologies are well-known by now. They can be a critical element of business growth, innovation, and operational continuity. The adoption of digital technologies has been linked to organizational beneﬁts, such as enhancing product and service innovativeness (Blichfeldt & Faullant, 2021), improving efﬁciency (Subramaniam, 2021) and generating new sources of value (Vial, 2019). Yet with many organizations dependent on data, analytics, digital tools, and automation for their processes, they are also discovering that these same technologies are introducing ethical dilemmas. These include smart devices constantly recording data, and biases associated with algorithmic decisions. The ethical dilemmas that stem from the development and application of digital technologies include concerns around privacy, trust, and digital security.
This means that organizations face increasing pressure from diverse stakeholders to act responsibly and in a more sustainable way as they engage with digital technologies. For example, in July 2022 the European Parliament voted in favor of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA). The two bills address the social and economic effects of the technology sector and the digital tools and services it provides by setting clear standards aligned with the EU’s fundamental rights and values. These new rules set out accountability standards for organizations involved in producing digital technologies and online content, seeking to rein in a “digital world that has developed into the Wild West, with the biggest and strongest setting the rules.”
As societal expectation for the accountability of digital technologies continues to grow, the term “corporate digital responsibility” (CDR) has recently emerged to describe a company’s emerging digital responsibilities. If managed effectively, digital responsibility can protect organizations from threats and enable them to differentiate themselves in the minds of consumers.
So, how can organizations get started on their journey towards CDR? The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation (DBT Center) at the Institute for Management Development (IMD) and the Swiss Digital Initiative (SDI) have developed a roadmap for adopting best practices in relation to how to launch and sustain an organization’s approach to CDR. Key elements include:
• Anchor your digital responsibility journey within a clear set of corporate values
• Build a holistic approach to CDR encompassing data privacy and protection, risk management, and compliance
• Invest in initiatives such as digital upskilling and policies to ensure that CDR programs are sustained over time
It is vital for organizations to take responsibility for their digital activities. By taking a proactive approach, forward-looking organizations can build and maintain responsible and sustainable practices linked to their use of digital tools and technologies. The key to this transition is to just get started.
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