Corporate Digital Responsibility: Approaches of the Leading IT Companies

Corporate Digital Responsibility: Approaches of the Leading IT Companies

Peter Jones (University of Gloucestershire, UK) and Daphne Comfort (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7712-7.ch013
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Abstract

Digital technology is reshaping businesses across much of the world, but as companies introduce digital technologies into their business activities, they are facing new sets of responsibilities. While many businesses have enthusiastically embraced the economic benefits of these digital technologies, the social and environmental impacts of these developments have received much less attention. With this in mind, this chapter reviews how the leading information technology companies publicly address their social and environmental responsibilities. The chapter includes an outline of digital technologies and their potential social dimensions and environmental impacts, a brief review of the emerging academic and professional literature to provide some reference and context for the review, details of the method of enquiry and frame of reference adopted by the authors, a review of how the leading information technology companies publicly reported on their social and environmental digital responsibilities, and some general reflections on these social and environmental responsibilities.
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Corporate Digital Responsibilities And Definitions: An Emerging Literature Review

Digital technologies are electronic systems that generate, process, and store data, and Accenture (2020), the multinational professional services company, suggested, “digital innovation and the rapid adoption of new technologies are changing everything - the way people work, how they live - and what the future will look like” (p.10). More specifically, digital technologies enable immense amounts of data to be compressed and stored in small devices, and to be transmitted at very high speeds. On the commercial side, Elia et al. (2020) claimed “in the last ten years, technology trends such as… cloud computing, Internet of Things, big data, and robotics supported new ways of collaborating, organizing resources, designing products, matching complex demand and offer, and developing new standards and solutions”, and that “such rapid development has profoundly changed the competitive environment and reshaped traditional business strategies, models and processes” (p.1). More socially, digital technologies make it easier to stay in touch with family and friends remotely, to communicate by words, audio, video, for users to be updated on local, social, and sporting news and events, and to use a variety of social media platforms.

In taking a wider perspective on the emergence of the digital technologies, Grigore et al. (2017) suggested that there are underlying features of the digital economy that lead to new areas of responsibility, namely, that digital technology allows for a blurring of boundaries, for example, “between employees and consumers in the case of co-constructed value, between commodities and services in the case of digital consumption, and between content and advertising in the case of promotion by social media” (p.57). Further, Grigore et al. (2017) argued that in all three cases “there is a pressing need to define what constitutes responsible business practice” (p.57).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Divide: Defined as the gap between those who have access to computers and the Internet, and those who have no, or at best limited, access. Arguably the greatest divide is at the global scale between developed and less developed countries, but digital exclusion also has demographic, socio-economic, and local locational dimensions.

Cybersecurity: The application of technologies, processes and controls to protect computer systems, and the data they hold and transmit, from unauthorised use, theft, damage, and disruption. Within the business world, cybersecurity is widely seen as one of the major barriers to increasing business adoption of digital technologies.

Sustainable Development: Widely defined as development which looks to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of natural systems and resources to enable future generations to meet their needs.

Corporal Digital Responsibility: As companies increasingly adopt digital technologies, so they face a new set of responsibilities. These corporate digital responsibilities embrace people, the economy, and the planet, and can be simply defined as making sure the new technologies, and the data they generate and transmit, are wisely used.

Digital Technologies: Electronic systems that enable large amounts of data to be compressed and stored in small devices, and to be transmitted at very high speeds. The adoption of these technologies is disrupting and reshaping business models across the world.

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