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Technology’s True Impact on Society

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the perspectives of IIBA. 
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Now, more than ever, business analysis professionals and business architects must step up and be advocates. Advocates for creating solutions that will not only enable change and deliver value to stakeholders but, more importantly, will ensure they elevate our capacity to face the complex challenges and threats of today’s world.

Technology is in a constant state of development. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the metaverse are two of the most recent types making waves. Before that, it was blockchain. These technologies are having a profound impact on our world and how we interact with it, a trend that will likely continue.

As trusted advisors, our challenge is to responsibly and ethically engage with new technologies to influence their development for the benefit of the world.

Changing the Technology Ecosystem  

Change is afoot, and society is slowly waking up to the influence technology has on humanity and the environment. For example, the Center for Humane Technology has been established to drive a shift toward technologies that enrich our lives and support collective well-being, democracy, and shared information—not profit.

As part of that work, the Center has created the “Ledger of Harms.” The ledger aims to show, through unbiased articles and research, the clear effects of technology on humanity, specifically the negative effects. Despite being a work in progress, it’s already comprehensive in scope.

What this means for us is simple. As companies integrate new technologies into their business models, we must provide critical thinking and problem-solving expertise. We need to address how these new technologies will be applied and what impact they’ll have on society.

We must also understand how to influence stakeholders and guide them in the development of technologies so that any impact on society will be positive. Social media is a good example of this, with its constant development and permanent goal of ever-greater user engagement. In this instance, we must recognize our responsibility to influence the design of technologies, ensuring it respects our attention and intentions.

Leveraging the Toolkit We Have  

The good news is we don’t need to start from scratch. We already have the toolkit required to achieve this. We can draw upon tools such as SWOT analysis, Root Cause Analysis, Brainstorming, and Design Thinking.

These tools already have the capabilities to face this challenge, but we need to elevate them to help influence the solutions and technologies companies aim to develop. To do so, we can ask two questions:

  • How do we go about challenging and asking better questions to ensure the solutions we help design respect human nature and help people thrive?
  • How do we influence and perform our analyses to minimize the harmful consequences of the solutions we help design and focus on creating better solutions that facilitate a positive impact?

Let’s Remember Our Strengths

As business analysis professionals, we align strategic objectives, operational goals, and tactical execution through a well-defined business architecture approach. Ingrained in us is also the ability to step back and ask questions, aware of the innate human tendency to make assumptions.

Separating conscious and unconscious biases, we can use these abilities to meet this challenge head-on. To do so, we always need to ask: “What impact will this solution or technology have on society?”

The answer to this question can be found through our ability to research, analyze, and articulate all the consequences a new solution or technology will have. With this knowledge, we can steer developments to benefit the world, while at the same time delivering on the company’s business goals.

There are examples of this in practice. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future through 17 interconnected goals. The development of ethical technology needs to play a crucial role here, across all sectors and all industries.

Now Is the Time

If we fail to act, what then? Will carbon emissions continue to harm the environment? Will fake news dominate further on social media? Will AI end up conquering all mankind?

Sure, that's all very doom and gloom. But as the saying goes, isn’t it best to plan for the worst and hope for the best?

This is our chance, as business analysis professionals and business architects, to step up and help ensure new solutions and technologies nurture open societies and form a more collective capacity for better sense-making and choice-making.

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About the Author
Jared Gorai, Director, Chapters & Membership Engagement, International Institute of Business Analysis™, IIBA®

Áine Byrne is a Business Analyst and Business Architect at adexe. She is passionate about adding value and making a difference. Áine uses business analysis and analytical thinking to help her clients navigate complex challenges, identify their true needs, and deliver better outcomes. With over two decades of experience in various industries in business and technical roles, she provides advisory, consulting, and mentorship services. She’s also a keen runner.

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