Talking tech since 2003

Accountability in tech and artificial intelligence (AI) is a matter for every leader and innovator to consider. On the one hand there is a desire to protect the status quo, especially with issues like job security and even the collection of tax revenue, but on the other hand, nobody wants to stifle innovation. Today I’d like to discuss the types of risks and disruption that can arise with innovation, with examples of how it can be better managed.

Be proactive: scan the horizon and act when risks appear

With the fast pace in the growth of technology, there is a need for the technology companies to ensure that they too are keeping taps on any risks that could arise from their products soon as it appears to them. Looking at the potential risks a product poses to the user before it is even launched for use is essential in ensuring that the prospective customers will build trust in using the product. This means that the tech companies must purse integrity in their business and innovations as a way of handling risks posed by their products before they become full-blown. This strategy should go beyond just a public relations exercise to installing actual technological practices that will solve any problem perceived. Being proactive in solving problems before they arise is essential in ensuring the safety of the users of technology as well as allowing the companies to develop trust among their customers.

Monitor your products and Improve agility

In the fast-paced business environment, managers need not to solely depend on technology to handle all the business operations and risks. There is a need to look beyond technology and develop agility beyond just research and development in an isolated market. There is a need to have the technology companies similarly take responsibilities as they pursue the development of their products. They must think beyond a single market and look after integrating broad market aspects into their technology. When the company is growing too fast and there are risks in the direction it is heading, there is a need to adjust fast and put precautionary measures to avert the looming risk. This could mean coming up with new strategies and taking up criticism to help in charting out a new direction for the company to take as it responds to the criticisms and risks identified.

Offer Incentives to encourage responsibility

The technology company thrives through risk to innovate new products. Given the need for innovations, tech companies often reward employees that keep on trying, regardless of their success, to develop new products. This has led to a desire to introduce o the market new products that are not yet ready for application as they try to keep up with the market competition and pressures.  This move helps them to get investors who look at their potential and choose to invest in them. Further, it gives the target market a chance to look at the company’s products and what they can expect from them in the future. However, as companies look at displaying their potential in the market, they need to be responsible for the risks their products can cause to the users and the market. Further, they should focus on the long-term aspect of their products and ensure that they are taking care of any risk that can disrupt their operations and expectations for the product they have rolled out.

Cooperate with regulators

While a company seeks to introduce a new product into the market, it should aim at meeting all the requirements set by the regulators in the industry. This will help avoid any friction in the operation of the business in the industry. If there be any outdated regulation, the business can work closely with the regulator to out maneuver the constraint and also help in the updating of the regulations. By working with the regulators, technology companies can reduce the involved risks without hindering their innovation efforts. To achieve this, any company should always consider the potential reaction to any innovation they make, come up with solutions for any issues that they might encounter with the regulator, educate the regulator on the new product developed, collaborate with the regulator to come up with fair and rational regulations, and partner with other firms in the industry to carry on their innovation. One space where this is crucial is health technology – as can be seen from this crucial research, it is a game-changer in the world right now. My favorite example is PharmEasy – a med tech company that helps both consumers and regulators: it lists only legal pharmacies and is a valuable resource to consumers who are not sure. This invaluable resource attracted the attention of so many investors who want to be involved in a good cause.

Collaboratively, come up with common standards, openly

Collaborative efforts in the technology industry will help the tech companies to go beyond the statues and laws in their area of operation as they seek to upscale their technology and increase security and privacy in their innovations. For instance, in technologies like those in the autonomous vehicle, there is a need for collaborative efforts to help attain the set goals and objectives in developing an autonomous vehicle. We see this often where cybersecurity, AI and chatbot ecosystems converge where we discuss industry problems collectively and resolve them as a matter of priority. Avi Benezra and his team at SnatchBot represent one such example – they bring together various industries to resolve common challenges through better policymaking.

Always, uphold Integrity

Given the need to have control of the market and the high competition in the technology industry, many companies may be tempted to employ dubious means to get their products to the market. Further, they can take advantage of their clients to make malicious products that will make them gain profits fast. However, any company that needs to build a strong brand and business, it has to ensure integrity in its dealings and products. An example of this, is where fintech companies move to protect the integrity of an industry – although I’d say that the recent decision of PayPal to charge retailers for refunds, is an example of “how NOT to boost integrity”, something the e-commerce sector are talking about right now.

Final scoop

Risk management at a time of hyper-innovation in tech is a key aspect to work on. Yes, we have young minds involved who often do not think strategically where short tactical victories are available – but that is the purpose of every board, to guide and assist and steer the ship in the right direction.

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