Co-op Group’s digital lead delivers keynote speech on ethical digital transformation

‘Leaders need to frame their thinking around balancing three things: people, privacy and profit’

The Co-op Group’s technology engagement lead, Emer Coleman, is delivering a keynote speech on the role of digital co-ops in the development of technology at this week’s Leaders’ Summit in Adelaide, held by the Australian Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) – the country’s representative body for co-ops.

Ms Coleman is working with the Co-op Group to help build The Federation, an open community of digital businesses and innovators, built on co-operative values. She said: “In my experience, senior leaders can be a bit put off by very high level discussions about technology – as with AI, Blockchain, etc. And they are so shiny, people get blinded by their promise, while the actual work of real and meaningful digital transformation is all about culture change – and that’s a people thing – not a technology thing.

“Leaders need to frame their thinking around balancing three things: people, privacy and profit. Using this lens, you can take a more holistic look. For example, you might want to use data to drive your business but what is the privacy exchange for your users? What’s the balance between privacy and profit? I’ll be including this concept in my talk.

“And the problem with the Silicon Valley model is that it is completely devoid of any ethics whatsoever, so are they really the people that we should be learning from? I’d argue they have more to learn from us when it comes to ethical approaches to developing technology – such as we are exploring in The Federation.”

Melina Morrison, BCCM’s CEO, said. “We are delighted that Emer Coleman is joining us. We look forward to hearing how she has taken the theology that is at the core of our members’ businesses and our own organisation and has been applying it to the data sector.”