The Most Important Tech Trend Of 2017

Organizations across every sector are harnessing digital technologies to become more consumer-centric. But this laser focus on serving and pleasing customers can have unintended consequences. Consider recent debates about Airbnb’s alleged impact on local rental markets, fake news’s influence on the U.S. presidential election, and the role of social media in Kim Kardashian’s $5 million jewelry robbery. In each case, the companies gave users what they wanted. But at what cost?

In 2017, consumers and media will challenge the actions of organizations that impact their lives, forcing digital ethics up corporate and legislative agendas. Institutions will focus more closely not just on their customer and employee experiences but also on “social experience”—how their business and design decisions affect society as a whole.

[Photo: mbi/iStock]

We’ve already seen some progress on this front. Take the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, a research center launched by Cambridge University to explore the opportunities and challenges that the development of artificial intelligence poses to humanity.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is expected to launch an office dedicated to responsible innovation and implement a formal framework to improve its ability to identify, understand, and respond to financial innovation affecting the U.S. federal banking system. This is a model many other government departments around the world will surely follow.

[Photo: ArthurHidden/iStock]

But much of the work will have to come from companies and organizations themselves. Here’s how to get started:

Question Your Organization’s Social Experience
Organizations readily consider customer experience and employee experience. Now they must address social experience, too. They must question what impact their actions will have on society or the environment, where there will be hidden costs, and where they are most likely to be exposed.

Prioritize Diversity
Organizations must consider more closely the diversity of the people they are designing for and the people who design for them. A digital service is only ever the product of its designers and coders. As such, ensuring the diversity of teams creating these new products and services will be essential. Companies will need to design automation. The more perspectives introduced into that development process, the better, more inclusive that automation will be—and the fewer unintended consequences you’ll end up with.

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