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More CXOs Considering AI for Making ESG Investment

More CXOs Considering AI for Making ESG Investment
Photo Credit: Pixabay
17 Mar, 2022
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Using emerging technologies for sustainable business practices will be a critical aspect of future competitiveness. A new research from enterprise data cloud company, Cloudera, reveals that as CXOs are betting big on their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) strategy and are turning to AI/ML to simplify the operations related to analysing and extracting information from the ESG data available - using ‘AI for good’. 

The study surveyed over 2,000 enterprise business decision makers — including 54 per cent C-Suite representation — and 10,880 knowledge workers in the USA, EMEA, India and APAC and said that ESG is identified as a top priority for business leaders and those who fail to act for the good of communities put business growth and talent at huge risk. At the same time, it examines the shift in attitude towards AI/ML and Data Analytics across enterprise decision makers, including C-Suite, and knowledge workers.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of business decision makers and over one in five (22 per cent) knowledge workers believe that their company should be publicly supporting sustainable business practices. In addition, the vast majority of knowledge workers (81 per cent) argue there is a need to use AI to deliver more sustainable business practices that benefit both their organisation and the communities it serves.  

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They believe that their emphasis on algorithms and machines are meant to reduce the inherent biases of human analysts which can often tilt corporate reports in unanticipated directions. Hence the study recommended that 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 and 23 per cent of knowledge workers and 27 per cent of business decision makers believe employees would leave the business. This could be a business destroying move amidst a global talent shortage, especially if all of a company’s competitors are addressing the gap,” it said.  

The research findings also dispel the long-held belief that workers were afraid of AI taking their jobs. An explosion in the volume of data now available to businesses has made AI/ML a common thread to many job roles and a powerful ally. Over half of knowledge workers say their daily tasks have been augmented or automated by AI (55 per cent), ML (51 per cent) and Data Analytics (63 per cent) in the last 12 months. 

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The biggest benefits of this have been saving time (37 per cent) and allowing them/their team to focus more on strategic work (35 per cent). What’s more, 80 per cent of knowledge workers are now comfortable taking on a new role due to AI/ML/Data Analytics.  

“The results of this study reveal a new wave of economics, focused on doing equally great things for profit, planet, and people — driven by automation and AI — is emerging,” said Mick Hollison, President, Cloudera.

“For business leaders this means it’s time to refocus how they think about technology investment — identifying not only the data that will support growth, but also the technology that will help employees and communities gain meaningful access to it,” he said. 

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The study recommends that businesses have to do more and invest in employee reskilling, considering many CXOs still have limited knowledge on the application of AI in ESG practices. 

Good news is, nine in 10 (91 per cent) CXOs believe their organisation will commit to continuous investment in reskilling employees as more tasks are automated. 

But the investment in people can’t stop there. Companies also need to make employees partners in the upskilling and reskilling processes to ensure a level playing field for staff, said the report.  

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