The rapid digital development is about to fundamentally change the way we do business. The development is happening at a pace and in ways so unpredictable that it will challenge and change all sectors and almost every company, says Deputy Director General of The Confederation of Danish Industry, Lars Frelle-Petersen.
I meet business leaders who put a lot of effort into monitoring and trying to understand the digital change and how they should apply it into their own companies. Most senior executives are very aware that they should lead this development, create strong visions and make sure that their companies become better at taking advantage of the new digital opportunities, if they are to stay relevant, competitive and simply survive in an ever-changing market. Some companies are born digital and thus almost by definition better equipped to handle the change happening around them, but for many companies it can be hard to understand the changes that digitalization is bringing: How different and rapidly changing technologies will affect them, and how to adapt or even take the opportunity to rethink every aspect of their business. If you combine this with a demand for digital competences that is far from matched by the supply now, a growing digital mistrust and cybercrime threats of whole new dimensions. I believe this cocktail to be the biggest challenge for leading businesses in these early days of the digital age. We must ensure that all Danes get the right digital skills from the first day of school to the last working day. Our basic digital skills should be in line with being able to read, write and calculate.
IT security is a must
We need to rebuild confidence in digitization. With the scandals like those around Cambridge Analytica and misuse of data, we have seen the beginning of a digital confidence crisis. This can have serious consequences if citizens and companies lose confidence in committing to a digital world, and therefore it is a task that both businesses and politicians must take seriously. There have been far too many unfortunate examples where we have not taken the protection of data and the transparency of the use of data seriously enough. At the same time companies and citizens alike experience that it is becoming more than difficult to protect themselves against cybercrime. Digital responsibility is, among other things, about the fact that enough IT security should be just as natural as locking the front door. Accordingly, there should still be private ownership when we open the door to the Internet, and we should not exploit all the possibilities of the technology to the utmost, just because we can. There are major challenges in all areas, and responsibility is shared. At the same time, we are already up and running – the future is already here.
Denmark should be equal with digital responsibility
If we want data ethics and digital responsibility to live in the companies and among the users, we must make it attractive for the companies to be digitally responsible, and it must be easy for users to choose digital responsibility. Therefore, the time is ripe for solid solutions as a certification scheme for digital responsibility and a strong and unified focus by authorities, companies and civil society that meet the digital challenges and concerns. If we succeed, we have created transparency for both companies and customers in a difficult area to access. It will be a giant leap forward to a more responsible digital culture. From solutions to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to rethinking how to run your own specific business in the digital age and its technological possibilities to offer an opportunity to rethink how we “used to do”.
Connecting every company of the world – any user – that can be used to create economic opportunity for all, if we succeed in maintaining, building and earning digital trust. That is a huge growth potential. I will not go into the potential of specific technologies; general and narrow AI, machine learning, bots, mixed-, augmented-, and virtual reality, second generation biometrics security, blockchain, or drones just to mention some of the technologies already and increasingly reshaping our businesses and ways of living. To achieve the full potential, we must radically rethink the way we use and protect data. Just as Denmark has become known worldwide for its high food security, data “Made in Denmark” must also be synonymous with high confidence and security. If we succeed in creating the framework for safe use of data, high digital responsibility can become a competitive advantage for Danish companies going forward. And this brings me to how business can form digitization and ”change digital” in becoming something that will help us live better lives and create better societies. Together we can show that digital responsibility, “being good”, and “doing good business” are closely linked. We must create a future that works for us all.