Innovation is critical for competitiveness and long-term growth. Companies require agility and flexibility to continue their path to growth. Leaders need to balance the delivery of new products and services while complying with global regulations, and internal policies and procedures. Managing this is challenging enough, but today’s leaders must also anticipate future regulation and governance on new technologies.

At IBM’s recent Chief Data and Technology Officer Summit, “Balancing Innovation and Growth with Risk and Regulation,” we had a great discussion with C-suite leaders on how companies can get ahead of the curve with innovation as regulations continually progress.

Over the last decade, there has been tremendous growth in the regulatory environment globally – from privacy regulations to data localization laws to the Cloud Act, and now cybersecurity and AI regulations. All of these regulations were designed to drive better behaviors and better outcomes. Much of this regulation has been in reaction to the explosion of customer data collection and the growing concerns by consumers that companies and governments aren’t transparent about who has access to their data and how it is being used and protected. In addition, the velocity at which we’ve seen these new technologies be developed and adopted has made it difficult for regulations to keep up. This combination of factors has led to eroding public trust in tech. Without the trust of society, the potential of new technologies to resolve society’s biggest challenges can founder.

Trust is our license to operate  

Trust has become a game-changer. When you become a source of trusted technology, you can innovate and grow, and at the same time, be responsive to risk and regulation. Industry must prove that we can be responsible with new technologies, and that we recognize the importance of protecting personal information and are committed to processing it responsibly and in compliance with applicable data protection laws in all countries in which it operates. IBM’s Principles of Trust & Transparency demonstrate our longstanding commitment to protect client data and take a human-centric approach when bringing technology into the world.

IBM has made trust the cornerstone of our leadership in AI innovation. We feel strongly that we are taking the right steps to build this trust and maintain the highest ethical standards – to put people and their interests at the heart of everything we do – as we work to build a better and more prosperous future.

We will continue to engage stakeholders worldwide as they explore the critical questions posed by the advancement of AI, to ensure its full potential for positive impact can be achieved. We will continue to advocate for Precision Regulation that can strengthen trust without stifling innovation or limiting AI’s potential to help us make the world smarter, healthier, and more sustainable. We’ve called on policy-makers to regulate the end-use of AI, not the technology itself. This will help to ensure regulations are future-proof as technological innovation continues to progress.

Regulation leading to Innovation

Innovation and compliance with regulation can work together. For example, the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) forced many organizations, including IBM, to scale their privacy programs. Although IBM had longstanding processes in place to manage compliance with privacy laws at a local level, the GDPR required a global approach.

To meet this challenge, the IBM Chief Privacy Office and Global Chief Data Office implemented a three-year corporate GDPR Readiness Program that mobilized thousands of resources from across the company. What initially involved a lot of manual work led to automation enabled by AI and intelligent governance workflows. The lessons learned and the technology solutions developed are now helping strengthen our offerings.  IBM Cloud Pak for Data has benefitted from the tech we’ve developed in partnership between our Chief Privacy Office and Chief Data Office, and with that offering we are helping our customers fully understand and manage how sensitive data is used throughout their own organizations.

So for us, this was far more than just a compliance exercise; it was an opportunity to innovate, develop new services and governance frameworks that would facilitate future industry and regulatory compliance efforts at scale. You can read the Case Study here.

At IBM, our value proposition is about bringing trusted innovation to our clients and the world.  Trust is our license to operate.

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