IT Brief Australia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Where do ethics lie in regard to AI implementation?
Wed, 2nd Oct 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Australian organisations need to ethically consider consumer concerns around data management to successfully harness artificial intelligence, according to new a study.

The study, commissioned by WP Engine and conducted by researchers at The University of London and Vanson Bourne, explored the present and near future of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven human digital experiences on the web, and the often tenuous but rewarding relationship between consumers, brands and AI.

The study reveals that though AI improves financials for 91.3% of Australian enterprises, organisations will need to ethically consider consumer concerns around data management to successfully harness the emerging technology.

The study which surveyed consumers and enterprise companies (1,000 employees or more) in Australia, the US and UK, found that 93% of Australian consumers believe organisations should be able to explain how they use personal data. In an era of purpose-driven consumption, values—such as transparency, trust and humanness—are key drivers of value in AI, the study showed.

"The degree of long-term benefits AI will bring to an enterprise's digital initiatives is deeply linked with the importance of aligning brand values with a core set of ethical decision-making values," explains Mark Randall, Australia and New Zealand country manager at WP Engine.

"The Australian brands who successfully integrate the revenue-driving power of AI with the trust, safety, and values customers expect will be successful in creating winning, powerful digital experiences," he says.

The study indicates that organisations are starting to see a measurable impact on the bottom line when using AI effectively. In fact, it showed that performance leaders may owe their success to investment in AI, with 89.3% of Australian brands, saying AI has helped them increase or widen their competitive advantage.

Further, a majority (91.3%) of enterprise IT decision makers indicate AI improves financial performance.

"Since these benefits are so pervasive, it comes as no surprise that 34% of enterprises plan to increase their AI budgets by significant amounts (50-75%) and that is on top of a base of more than $1 million a year spent on AI by the majority of enterprises surveyed (72%)," Randall says.

Randall says the value of AI to organisations is clear, as the following additional survey results show:

-     91.3% of Australian enterprises say AI helps them optimise efficiency

-     86% of brands see a positive return on investment on the AI systems they use to power the digital experiences they offer their customers

-     86% of enterprises say AI allows them to improve customer service

However, in an era of increasingly purpose-driven consumption, values-related topics came out even higher than the value created in terms of priority and importance to Australian consumers and enterprises.

"AI provides organisations with a powerful format to promote their core values, surfacing utility and aligning benefits more closely associated with their brand and its value proposition to consumers," Randall says.

"Therefore the opportunity for organisations to increase their bottom line is interlinked with the importance of ethical commitments to the people, community and environment with and in which they do business," he explains.

"If enterprises can promise a safe space of privacy and trust, the ability to offer incredible digital experiences becomes almost limitless."

According to Randall, while organisations are starting to see the benefits of AI, they have yet to truly capitalise on these strengths in a way that delivers true utility and aligns with the human needs of consumers.

The study shows a clear preference from consumers for the following values-based imperatives:

-     94% of Australian respondents believe that protections for personal data shared on websites should meet established data security and privacy standards

-     93% of the respondents believe organisations should be able to explain how they use personal data

-     92% of Australian consumers believe maintaining trust during personalised digital experiences is important

The study found the interplay of value and values across three core pillars—personalisation, data exchange and meaning—is required to build safe, reliable and compelling digital experiences.

"When the power of AI is added to each of these pillars, digital experiences truly take off, becoming more engaging and offering a more personable and human interaction that today’s Australian online consumers demand," says Randall.

Australian companies are already putting AI to use in today's digital experiences. The study shows 86% of enterprises say they see a positive ROI on the AI they invest in to power digital experiences.

"The return on investment of AI is clear for businesses, with 49.3% of those surveyed seeing a visible increase in sales volume, but it's not too early to think about how AI will be able to make tough but ethical decisions," Randall explains.

According to the study, 57.2% of Australian respondents believe AI will have a positive impact on the world, but 45.2% believe bias in AI could cause unequal representation of minorities. At the same time, 54.2% believe AI is an opportunity to overcome human bias.

Dr. Chris Brauer, director of innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, says the research shows enterprises investing in AI are already seeing astounding return on investment and performance. outcomes," said

"Consumers are demanding that innovating with AI in digital experiences clearly prioritises and expresses values around privacy, trust, and transparency," he says.

"Only by laying a solid foundation of ethics and values that guide the implementation of all facets of an AI solution, will companies truly be able to fully harness the value of AI."