Framework for Responsible Digital Innovation

Ahmad Haidar & Christine Balague


Within this digital era, it’s projected that global expenditure on digital transformation
will surge up to $2.8 by 2025 trillion.

Also, the European Commission ambitiously forecasts that by 2030, 90% of Small and Medium Enterprises will incorporate digital technologies into their daily operations.
Yet, as we witness this rapid digital expansion, it’s critical to consider the potential sustainability issues and the resulting challenges that managers might face.

To navigate these complexities, a robust and thoughtful framework must be addressed in order to bridge the gap between digital and responsible innovation. Within this vein, we carried out a qualitative study from June 2020 to 2021, including 18 digital innovation managers from various sectors (e.g., recruitment, telecommunication, etc.) who expressed their interest in
Responsible Digital Innovation (RDI).

All managers are members of cap digital,
a hub for digital and ecological innovation in Europe that has been recognized as a “Cluster of Excellence” by the European Commission since 2014. The findings fell into three main categories.

Firstly, defining RDI reveals five core aspects: enhancing environmental and societal impacts; fostering digital trust; aligning innovation with shared values; being intentional about what we want to transform; and treating RDI as an integral component of competitiveness.

Secondly, the study affirms five main dimensions for RDI with 25 sub-dimensions and various practices.

  1. RDI Strategy: This dimension involves establishing a mission-based company status, integrating RDI into Corporate Social Responsibility, positioning products or services as RDI “by design,” and promoting an RDI-centric corporate culture.
  2. Specific Digital Issues: This dimension concentrates on the influence of digital innovation on the environment, data and Information System security, enhancing trustworthy AI and algorithms, inclusiveness, and digital sovereignty.
  3. Organization and KPIs: This heavily emphasized dimension highlights the roles of collectives and partnerships, extensive training initiatives, careful selection of partners and suppliers, HR and organizational considerations, and the development of specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  4. User Role: This dimension underlines the importance of co-innovation with end users, maintaining transparency, advocating for data collection frugality, and returning control to users.
  5. Catalysts: This final dimension focuses on elements like top management support, benchmarking, embracing a trial/error approach, and the necessity of securing appropriate funding.”

The final area of interest is the barriers to RDI. Interviewees have revealed various significant barriers: scaling issues, technical complications, insufficient dedicated funding, controversies regarding effects, lack of RDI knowledge, scarcity of indicators, and organizational challenges.

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