The more dominant and prevalent technology becomes, the stronger is our need for ethics and humanity. Each article in this issue of Agility Update offer a different lens to view our world of change and its impact on people. From artificial intelligence (AI) to consumer engagement with social responsibility and to circular economy models, the message is clear: zero-sum games between corporations and their workers and customers are not sustainable.
Reaction around the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is mixed. At one extreme is the utopia of freedom from work and the potential of new realms in human capability. At the other is the dystopia of increasing inequality and widespread unemployment. Management consultants Booz Allen Hamilton offers executive leaders six guiding principles to help them traverse the minefield:
1. Human experience + machine insight > gut feeling alone.
Couple instincts with insight produced by machines to see possibilities that may otherwise be ignored.
2. Machine models can powerfully augment our mental models.
Use machine models’ increasing precision and capability to ingest and interpret data for a variety of business purposes, while taking a “trust but verify” approach.
3. To break through without experience, start by experimenting.
You can’t beat the odds by insisting your people “do it right the first time.” Instead, identify one or a few narrow areas in your business where you can tolerate some risk, and select motivated talent you already have to lead the charge.
4. Complexity is an asset, not a liability.
Complexity means competitive advantage exists. Decisions that require fusing information from many parts of the business offer opportunities for mathematical corporations.
5. In artificial intelligence, you can create value by giving it away.
The value of artificial intelligence goes beyond short-term returns and cost savings. Transparency, sharing, and openness will enable organisations to learn and benefit from artificial intelligence more quickly, and to take on an important role in the next technological revolution.
6. Honesty is always the best policy.
As AI becomes more prevalent in business and society, some jobs particularly those focused on rote tasks and labour will eventually go away. Acknowledge this reality with your workforce and begin to create strategies now on how to help affected employees develop the skills to transition to new roles.
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There is a potential untapped opportunity of €966 billion out of a €2.5 trillion total market for sustainable goods, with the largest payoff in emerging countries. Unilever’s survey of 20,000 adults from five countries, found more than one in five (21 percent) said they would actively choose brands that made their sustainability credentials clearer on their packaging and in their marketing. A separate Accenture and Havas Media Group survey of 30,000 adults from 20 countries found the majority of consumers (81 percent) expect more from their expenditure than the acquisition of products and services, but 42 per cent believe that companies are failing to meet their expectations.
Clearly, sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for business. Also, clearly, traditional ways of communicating corporate social responsibility and sustainability issues are failing to engage and persuade the consumer.
Unilever advise businesses to prove their social and environmental credentials and show consumers they can be trusted with the future of the planet and communities. Accenture offers three recommendations:
Australia’s recycling crisis and plastic bag ban could uncover substantial business opportunities in circular economy models. Finland, for example, estimates the added value provided by a circular economy for its national economy could be at least €3 billion per year by 2030. A circular economy is one in which materials are reused and recycled to minimise waste. While some circular economy businesses are founded on innovations, others rely on professionals who know how to service and repair products to extend the useful life of the product. Examples of circular economy models include businesses that:
Explore other businesses compiled by Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the first national road map to a circular economy that Sitra helped Finland draw up in 2016. In 2018 the World Circular Economy Forum will be co-hosted by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and Sitra in Yokohama, Japan, between 22 and 24 October. In 2019, the World Circular Economy Forum will be held again in Helsinki.
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