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The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, which brings together thousands of international leaders from business, government, academia and other organizations, is underway this week in in Davos, Switzerland.
This year’s gathering addresses the theme of “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a New Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” On the first day of the forum, several subthemes regarding the future of work began to emerge: artificial intelligence (AI), data and trust.
“As the people pour into this small ski town today, the discussions among the lanyard-wearing delegates at the coffee shops and hotel lobbies off of the Promenade at the Congress Centre Davos seems to come down to one word: trust,” Tom Patterson noted in Information Age.
For Noura Berrouba, a member of the Global Shapers Community from Stockholm, Sweden, and one of WEF’s six young co-chairs, trust is a building block of any community.
“Leaders need to regain trust from young people,” she said. “We need leaders who take a bold approach.”
In a panel discussion titled, “Trust, Data and Unlocking Value” Accenture’s Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, referred to trust as the “ultimate currency” in the digital age.
“Almost all leaders understand the value of the mountain of data they are sitting on,” she said. “That mountain of data can be a gold mine or a minefield.”
“Trust is the ultimate currency in the digital age. Almost all leaders understand the value of the mountain of data they are sitting on. That mountain of data can be a gold mine or a minefield.”
During the discussion, Shook also announced the release of Accenture Strategy’s latest report, “Decoding Organizational DNA,” which shows that, globally, US$3.1 trillion of future revenue growth is at stake for large companies, depending on how their workforce data strategies affect employee trust. Companies that put in place responsible data strategies could see revenue growth up to 12.5 percent higher than that of companies that fail to so.
“Interestingly, while 62 percent of the C-level executives (surveyed) said that their organizations are collecting data on their workforce, only 30 percent are very confident that they are using the data responsibly,” she said.
Shook and her fellow panelists agreed that the key to using the workforce data responsibly while building trust was transparency.
“Trust and transparency go hand in hand,” said Aneel Bhusri, CEO of Workday. “Trust is something that takes decades to build and you can lose it in a nanosecond.”
Melanie Kalmar, CIO of Dow, said her company uses the workforce data to improve the employee experience.
“You have to be transparent about what you are going to do with the information so that they (employees) are comfortable,” she said. “Having ongoing conversations with employees is key.”
In another panel discussion, “Is Responsible AI Good for Business?”, Accenture CTIO Paul Daugherty spoke about the impact of AI on the future workforce.
“By 2022, there will be a net gain of 50 million jobs, but I don’t think we are reskilling people fast enough,” he said. “Preparing your employees is good business.”
Daugherty and the panel explored the importance of ethics and human judgment, as well as the challenges of bias in AI.
“If you think about every piece of data as a fragment of a person, you’ll think differently about your obligations with it,” he said.
Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer for Bank of America, cautioned against the abandonment of human judgment.
“I don’t think responsible AI is just good for business; I think it’s a mandate,” she said.
To learn more about Accenture’s research on trust and the workforce, register to download the report: Decoding Organizational DNA.
Follow more live updates from the Accenture community at WEF 2019.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our summary of Day Two!