Planet and Profit: Reshaping Business Priorities for Good

Planet and Profit: Reshaping Business Priorities for Good

The global pandemic has ushered in a new wave of economics. Driven by the rapid convergence of changing circumstances, data, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), businesses today have to contend with a whirlwind of internal and external pressures. Companies are experiencing pressure from growing customer demands, and amidst a global talent shortage, a workforce no longer driven purely by profit but altruism and purpose. Employees at all levels, including business decision makers, now believe that doing good goes hand-in-hand with driving profit. 

In Cloudera’s new study – Limitless: The Positive Power of AI – environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is identified as a top priority for business leaders. The study shows that those companies who are ready to accelerate their AI/ML/Data Analytics strategy now in support of doing good for their company and community have a significant advantage over laggards. Why? Business decision makers and knowledge workers both agree that failing to use data for the good of communities puts growth, and talent, at huge risk.

Social good supports both business and talent growth 

Today, almost a quarter of business decision makers (24%) and one in five knowledge workers (22%) believe that their company should publicly be supporting sustainable business practices. In fact, sustainability is now so important that over a quarter (26%) of business decision makers are putting increasing investment in ESG ahead of developing new products/services (24%) or accelerating financial growth (22%). And the vast majority of knowledge workers (81%) argue there is a need to use AI to deliver more sustainable business practices that benefit both their organization and the communities it serves. 

That said, less than a third (31%) of business decision makers are active regarding the implementation of these technologies with a limited understanding of how they work. If businesses truly want to embed sustainability at their core, leaders must start to use data to deliver more sustainable outcomes – and quickly. 

Failure to act will have grave consequences. Almost half of business decision makers (47%) and 40% of knowledge workers revealed that they believe their company will see its growth decline if they don’t start to use data to make more sustainable business decisions in the next 36-months. Furthermore, 23% of knowledge workers and 27% of business decision makers believe employees would leave the business for this reason — an untenable position to face during the “Great Resignation.”

Fear of losing jobs to AI is replaced by a focus on investment in reskilling

As recently as pre-pandemic, there was a popularly held belief that employees were afraid of losing their jobs to technology but this is no longer the case. Eight in ten knowledge workers (80%) say they feel comfortable taking on a new job role due to AI/ML/Data Analytics job roles. This is excellent news, as knowledge workers believe their jobs will change, 64% due to AI, 63% due to ML, and 69% due to Data Analytics over the next 36 months. 

These knowledge workers aren’t wrong. The vast majority of business decision makers (91%) revealed to us that they’re achieving success through their existing AI programs and similarly 89% with Data Analytics and 87% with ML — indicating that more change is to come. Business decision makers say they have a clear plan to implement new AI (83%), ML (77%) and Data Analytics (82%) programmes/solutions into their organization in the next 18 months.

In good news, businesses will not be implementing technology to the detriment of current employees. Nine in ten business decision makers (91%) said their organization will commit to continuous investment in reskilling employees as more tasks are automated. Employees are already feeling the benefits, with over three-quarters of knowledge workers (77%) revealing that they feel their companies are investing enough in reskilling them and their colleagues to work alongside AI, ML and Data Analytics technologies. 

Ultimately, the Limitless: The Positive Power of AI Study proves that there is dynamic change ahead in business as far as both technology and the workforce is concerned. The results reveal that globally a new wave of economics, focused on doing equally great things for profit and for the good of the planet, driven by automation and Artificial Intelligence, is emerging. The ability to use data, gain insight and actionable intelligence from it, will continue to change how organizations view themselves, how they operate and how the people that drive them live and work. 

Data and analytics has to be easy and accessible, for everyone. 

About the Limitless: The Positive Power of AI Study

Both the business decision maker and knowledge worker portions of the research were conducted by Sapio Research, an independent market research consultancy based in London, UK. 2,213 business decision makers, including 54% from the C-Suite, working at companies with 1,000+ employees, 400 IT decision makers, completed an online study during August 2021. At the same time, the knowledge worker — end users who are in full-time employment with access to technology as part of their day-to-day jobs — study was also conducted amongst those employed at organizations with 1,000+ employees during August 2021.

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