When AI goes into the machine learning space, it opens up a range of issues such as biases and privacy, she says. Boards have to be switched on to this and be able to ask the right questions.
According to Williams, a significant proportion of the challenges caused by AI usage within companies comes from the fact that the technology is far from transparent. Even the people who build it dont really know why it does what it does, she says. The board is critical. If it is successfulin understanding AI, developing strategies for it, and integrating it into mainstream business strategy, the payoff is huge.
Asked to nominate other technology-related issues occupying the minds board members, panel members pointed to a range including security and the ability to withstand cyber attacks.
Cyber security is really at the top of the list, says David Attenborough, managing director and chief executive at betting company Tabcorp. This is because any company is under permanent attack from different directions and you need to be protecting your customers, your networks and youremployees from those attacks.
The other major issue that keeps me awake at night is the resilience of networks because we have multiple systems supporting a massive retail network and a big digital network. On big days, such as the Melbourne Cup, if you have a system that goes down it is incredibly expensive and disruptiveand reputationally damaging.
David Attenborough, managing director and chief executive at betting company Tabcorp, says cyber security is top priority.Jesse Marlow
While information technology is a critical component for organisations of all sizes, the panellists also stressed that Australian businesses must be more than simply technology consumers.
To achieve long-term growth, it is vital to deploy new technologies to underpin sustained and far-reaching innovation.
The board wants too see a pipeline of ideas, says Stops. They want to know that the company is constantly thinking about new ways to do things and that the pipeline is constantly being filled and fed through.
She says innovation is not something that is unique to a particular group. Rather, it has to be a mindset and something that is in place right across an organisation.
The usual approach within a lot of companies has been to carve off a group and call it an innovation team, she says. Companies are now realising that this is not creating an innovation culture - its just putting some smart people in a corner.
Stops warns, however, that its important how innovation and new ideas are handled. Care needs to be taken that it doesnt get caught up in traditional multi layers of approval which can lead to a good idea dying before it can be fully developed.
The board should be keen to make sure there is a way in which those ideas can move through the organisation quite quickly, she says.
Also, there is a need to create a culture in which it is OK to fail. A lot of organisations spend money on innovation and new ideas and if they dont work people are shot and off they go. That is not what an innovation culture is all about.
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