The collecting and use of personal data excites marketers, but scares the public. With new technologies, such as big data, it is easy to cross the "creepy" line, notes Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner.
In the digital era, Buytendijk points out the need for businesses to relearn the art of ethical discussion when new technology is moving so fast, and they struggle to process all the possible implications of its use.
Businesses that seek only profit and do not consider the moral ramifications of their actions could face serious repercussions, he states.
“An angry public does not care whether or not an organisation is compliant with the law if, through its action or inaction, sensitive information about them falls into the wrong hands or is used in undesirable ways," he says. "Successful businesses will be keenly aware of the moral climate they operate in, and will operate well within acceptable thresholds.”
“People generally avoid talk of ethics and morality in the workplace, but we need to master this way of thinking again,” says Buytendijk.
Ethical behaviour shows what the organisation stands for but also because it provides a competitive advantage that is hard for others to copy.
“Businesses do not exist in a moral vacuum where we measure success or failure solely by clear metrics such as efficiency, effectiveness, profit or shareholder returns,” he says.
“Businesses exist in a world full of customers, regulators, media and activists who judge everything through a moral lens. This collective sentiment directly affects the environment within which any business operates.”
He says taking a more ethical approach to doing business is simply good practice. “Ethical behaviour shows what the organisation stands for but also because it provides a competitive advantage that is hard for others to copy.”
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