Digital Innovation in Focus: Responsible Business in Action

Businesses in every sector and geography are adopting new disruptive digital technologies to increase their effectiveness and drive efficiencies.
 
Business in the Community's report, Brave New World, written in partnership with Accenture Strategy, reveals the benefits of digital technologies: Artifical intelligence could increase UK labour productivity by 25% by 2035; global carbon emissions could be reduced by 20% by 2030; 450 million people worldwide could benefit from better access to education. The challenges are significant too: The UK economy is losing £63bn a year from the digital skills gap; 65% of primary school children today will work in jobs that do not yet exist1.
Leading businesses are already capitalising on these opportunities and mitigating the risks. For example, our three award finalists include Freeformers who have trained thousands of young people across Europe in digital skills that are essential for employment, ENGIE who are innovating rapidly with digital technologies to reduce our reliance on dirty energy, and Shared Services Connected Ltd who are harnessing the power of automation to improve the public sector’s ability to effectively and efficiently support our communities.
 
To support responsible businesses as they undergo their own digital transformations, Business in the Community (BITC) launched four business priorities: To protect, support and empower customers; embrace the changing nature of work; deliver innovative products and services that serve society; and drive a transparent, inclusive and productive value chain. We have seen many of our members consider these priorities in the context of their own digital transformations, and commit to becoming more responsible businesses. We’re excited to have this agenda led by our 12 Digital Champions, each of whom have made two commitments that we’ll share with you over the coming days.
 
Our campaigns
We are working with our members to embed the four Brave New World priorities within their businesses to help ensure that their digital transformations are responsible and that they are considering the impact on their stakeholder groups.

Additionally, we will be holding a series of events over the coming months that focus on how digital technology can address the societal and environmental challenges that we’re all facing by showcasing existing innovations and convening businesses to work together to develop new processes, products or services.
 
Headlines from the finalists for BITC's Responsible Business Awards 2019: The Fujitsu Digital Innovation Award finalists
 
1. Acknowledgement that digitalisation is the future
Many industries are in the process of major change, and digital is central to the products and services being offered. ENGIE, an energy and services business managing buildings for thousands of customers, is investing €1.5 billion in digital technologies as part of a global, three-year plan for growth.
 
2. Digital products can drive sustainability
For example, ENGIE’s flagship digital products and services include online services for domestic customers, providing building residents and real estate managers with smart sensors so that they can control the energy performance of their properties more easily. More than 2.5 million energy bills have been analysed for 70,000 buildings.
 
3. Using digital to build skills for the future
One of the many benefits of digitalisation is that it becomes easier to build skills capacity among young people, quickly and efficiently. Freeformers has teamed up with Facebook to 5,000 young people across Europe develop the confidence and skills they need for future employment in a digital economy over the next two years.
 
4. Helping others to help themselves can achieve scale
Freeformers’ Digital Skills Training Programme enables customers to deliver the training for themselves. “Our initial interventions are often face to face at first, but then when a programme scales up it is delivered by local partners who use our learning platform to deliver the course contents,” says the company.
 
5. It’s not just about the technology…
…It’s what you do with it that counts. Shared Services Connected has rolled out many a digital transformation programme, including the creation of Europe’s largest Single Operating Platform to standardise and streamline how 22 government departments process and use data. But the organisation has also prioritised improving user experiences to help organisations become leaner and more productive.
 
References
1. Digital Skills Inquiry (2015), available at https://parliament.uk