episode 4

Alan Kohler AM explores the world of data with Yasmin Allen FAICD, chair of the Digital Skills Organisation and work futures platform Faethm.ai, and non-executive director at ASX, Cochlear and Santos, Tim Reed, president of the Business Council of Australia, and Lee Hickin, chief technology officer, Microsoft Australia, in Episode 4 of Directors on Digital, brought to you by Microsoft and Company Director, the member magazine of the AICD.

 

Smart digital transformation offers significant opportunities for gathering valuable data about the organisation and the customer.

In this episode, we look at security and privacy concerns, the biases that can underpin AI algorithms, and how boards need to ensure their organisations use data responsibly and understand how to unlock the potential value for their businesses.


Guest 1: Yasmin Allen FAICD, chair of the federally funded Digital Skills Organisation, work futures platform Faethm.ai, and non-executive director at ASX, Cochlear and Santos  

Guest 2: Tim Reed, president of the Business Council of Australia
Guest 3: Lee Hickin, chief technology officer, Microsoft Australia

 

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Transcript

Host: Alan Kohler 

Guests: Yasmin Allen, Tim Reed and Lee Hickin


Alan Kohler: This episode was recorded on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and we’d like to pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

 

Welcome back to Directors on Digital, a podcast from Microsoft and Company Director magazine where Australia’s leading company directors sit down to share their experiences and insights in driving digital innovation on their boards. 

 

I’m Alan Kohler and in this episode we explore how businesses can leverage data to better understand their customers and ultimately add value to their offering.

 

One of the world’s most successful customer data gathering initiatives was created in 1994 when the directors of supermarket giant Tesco were presented with the first loyalty scheme, Clubcard. The then chairman famously told the developer: ‘What scares me about this is that you know more about my customers in three months than I know after 30 years.’

What was remarkable then seems almost quaint today as our mobiles and the Internet of Things provide reams of real time data on the most intimate aspects of our lives. 

 

Of course, gathering customer data can create potential for breakthrough business insights and development of products, services and experiences for the customer. But it's an asset that needs to be leveraged thoughtfully and ethically. 

 

From security and privacy concerns, to the biases that can underpin artificial intelligence algorithms, boards need to think carefully about how to ensure their organisations use data responsibly and understand how to unlock the potential value for their businesses.  

 

So how can directors ensure they have a firm grasp of the issues that intersect with the use of organisational data and understand what data assets they need to create more value than their competitors? 

 

To explore these questions, I sit down with Tim Reed, president of the Business Council of Australia, director of Transurban, and former CEO of MYOB. And Yasmin Allen, chair of the federally funded Digital Skills Organisation, and non-executive director of ASX, Cochlear, and Santos as we discuss the value of data collection.

Yasmin Allen: ‘Data's an amazing resource because it never goes away. You don't actually sell your data. You sell copies of your data. Data is infinite. You can cut and paste and change. So, if you get it right, it's actually a huge revenue driver.’

 

Alan Kohler: Lee Hickin, chief technology officer for Microsoft Australia, also drops by a little later in the podcast.

 

Lee Hicken: ‘Data accessibility is growing at a huge range. And we're taking these evolutionary steps every four to six months now. We are getting to feel the sense of AI's impact on our real world.’

 

Alan Kohler: Let’s begin, as Yasmin and Tim take me through some principles on how they approach data and digital transformation and why you can’t just rely on an expert.

 

Yasmin Allen: The way I'm looking at it at the moment is we are sitting in front of an exponential change. COVID has pulled forward our five year digital plans by about five years to today. And at the same time, we've got the intersection of 5G, Cloud, AI, which is giving us that exponential push into the things that we need to do and we need to be prepared around heading into this. I mean I think McKinsey have said, this is going to be 300 times as fast as the industrial revolution. So we are sitting now on the cusp of something, which I think is quite exciting. I think it's a Renaissance.

But we as businesses, how do we look into that? How do we ensure we have the right skills and how do we bring our workforces along with us? I use sort of a personal framework, around the way I think about data. So that is, three different types of data, one is the internal data that we produce as a company and how we use that to make our businesses more efficient. And then the second data, if you like, the way I look at it streams of raw data or historic data that we can monetise and sell. And that might be trading data, for example, at the ASX, or ESG data, or agenda data, that sort of thing that people need in order to understand the companies that they're investing in. And then thirdly, and I think this is the data that most people like to talk about. That is, the data that we use, machine learning that goes into our AI. So our predictive tools that we may be using in our businesses and that's where I think we start talking about responsible data and the use of data and how we collect and curate our datasets.

Alan Kohler: Tim, how much of a responsibility do you think individual directors have to inform themselves about all that's going on?

Tim Reed: I think every director, it's incumbent on them to be able to do their job and fulfill their duties, that they have an understanding of the way in which data is collected by the businesses that they govern, that they understand the way in which it is being used. They understand the way in which it's being protected and that they understand the way in which it will inform the future direction for the business. I don't think this is an optional, and I don't think it's okay to have a director on the board who is ‘the data person’. Of course, directors play as a team and so really great boards will have directors that naturally have more strength in certain areas than others, but I think it's a legal responsibility of every director to get their head around the way in which data is informing, enabling, and making vulnerable, the businesses that they govern.

Alan Kohler: At the BCA you’re across a whole lot of companies, would it be fair to say that there are a lot of differences between the way companies are approaching this and what sort of spectrum do you see?

Tim Reed: Absolutely - and I'd say any business group that you got together, there'd be differences. If you look in the BCA, we have companies who globally are really leading the thinking about the way in which data is being used, and frankly it is becoming a big part of their social license to continue to operate and provide the community with services that the community feel comfortable in the way in which they're doing that. And then we will have companies in agriculture, in food supply, we'll have companies in utilities, et cetera, where people might not think of them as obviously as exposed or ought to have the same opportunity. But I would actually really challenge that and say it is there where I think a lot of the transformation that Yasmin was referring to will happen over the next decade.

Alan Kohler: And Yasmin, you're in the Digital Skills Organisation, talk us through what exactly that does. 

Yasmin Allen: The DSO came out of the Steven Joyce review into our vocation education and training sector. The DSO is there to try and get industry closer to the output from our Vocation Education Training sector. So a terrible stat that caused me to accept the chair role is that only 46 per cent of our kids who come out of that sector get a job within the first six months. Now there's something wrong with our VET sector if we're not employing over half the kids that come out of that sector.

So there's a lot of different things that we need to do but one that is the role of the DSO is to get industry closer to forming the qualifications that we're building so that when these kids come out, they are employable straightaway. And on my board I have representatives from Microsoft, Atlassian, Telstra, so we are the digital sector. Although I keep saying to the government, digital isn't a sector, it's actually across every sector and they’re skills that will be required across every sector. 

Alan Kohler: Well, you're a living example of that in your boards that ASX, Cochlear, Santos, it's been said I think that every company is a technology company these days. To what extent are all of those boards that you're on also technology companies and having to deal with the data transformation that's going on?

Yasmin Allen: Everything we do is informed by digital and by data. So at Santos, for example, we're using drones and AI to predict maintenance and safety. We're using robots to go into areas that are hazardous for our staff, we're using AI to create more efficient and better outcomes with our seismic research. And at Cochlear, we've actually spent a lot of time using digital to get closer to our customers and particularly the after care service, if you like, once you've been implanted with a Cochlear implant. So during COVID the FDA approved our remote tuning. So the external processor you can tune remotely, which is great for people who couldn't obviously go and see their audiologists during COVID and we've had that technology for over two, three years, and yet it was approved during COVID because it became essential. We're doing things now that we thought we wouldn't be doing for the next three to four years.

Alan Kohler: Remote tuning of cochlear implants. Just one of the many technologies pushed forward as a result of COVID as we move deeper into a technology driven world. We’ll talk more about artificial intelligence soon with Lee Hickin of Microsoft, but first I wanted to discuss how directors get their heads around the issues, and the role of the board in future-proofing the organisation.

Yasmin Allen: It's quite interesting how these things come about. I think a lot of people think that boards, you know we're sort of sitting there and not interested in the future, but in fact, on all my boards, it is the board that is pushing and challenging the management teams to think about things that are outside. When you’re dealing with your day to day, it's very hard to lift your head up. I think it's both the privilege and the responsibility of a board to create a safe space for management to test and try new thinking.

I do spend a lot of time studying and thinking about blockchain, crypto, data, digital, decarbonisation. I just love that stuff. So I'm very curious and I'm doing MIT online courses every second month and going to South by Southwest whenever I can. I think on my boards, I do push a bit harder maybe than some of the other directors, but most directors that I'm dealing with are really keen to keep themselves up to speed.

Alan Kohler: Tim you ran MYOB for 12 years and we'd really love to hear how you led that transformation that occurred at MYOB. It started in 1991 just selling software directly one-on-one to accountants and then was challenged by Xero coming along as a Cloud operator. How challenging was that transformation that you had to bring about at MYOB?

Tim Reed: It was enormously challenging because Xero is a great company and a great competitor. If you look through those 12 years, we had four changes of ownership, so we were public, we were taken over by private equity, sold another private equity, relisted and ultimately privatised again. And so there were lots of different actions where I have five different boards of directors where every director changed through those 12 years.

Alan Kohler: That must've been really hard dealing with total changes of boardrooms.

Tim Reed: Yep, absolutely but it was also, I'd say the most tremendous opportunity that as an individual I ever had and every day I felt privileged to be able to go into work and to be given that responsibility.  

Alan Kohler: Were you hampered early on as a product company in the lack of information and lack of data about your customers and what the customers wanted?

Tim Reed: We were probably more hampered by our understanding that we were hampered by that, if that makes sense. It was more about getting the mindset of our people to the point where they wanted that data all the time than it was actually getting our hands on the data. And then of course there's a huge amount of challenges, data governance framework, such that data can be collected in consistent ways across the organisation so that you can link data together. The first thing I ask is all around that, who governs the data, what are the structures that are put in place and how do you know that data is being collected consistently across the organisation, is there a taxonomy? You can start just collecting data and end up drowning because you can't get any information from it and if you don't put those frameworks in place upfront, then that's probably the path that you're heading down.

Alan Kohler: Yasmin what is the right mindset for transforming, having the right innovation culture, having the right culture that can deal with data. Tim was saying, it wasn't just the fact that they didn't have data, it was the fact that they didn't know that they didn't have data.

Yasmin Allen: Yeah. Look, there's so much in that. I think it depends on where you come from, if you come from a startup where you probably set up to create your data, or whether you're an incumbent who has a lot of data that you don't even know you've got that is really valuable, but it's stuck in silos or stuck in a closed loop. I always like to start with a business plan, because as Tim said, if you start with a data lake, I always think that can end up being a data swamp, because you can run for three years collecting data and making sure the data's right, but if you don't have a plan to use it and monetise it, what is the point?

So, I think you start with a business plan, and that might be around, just some trading data, or it might be around metadata or whatever you think is valuable for your customer, and then start to build and learn. But there are some clear hygiene factors. And that is, as Tim said, consistent definition of the data so that it does all work together or as a group. And then the other thing is how you not only store it, but how you deliver it to your customer, you becoming a service business. People are sort of talking about the liquidity, valuing companies based on the liquidity of their data or data liquidity is sort of a term that's being bandied about.

Alan Kohler: What does it mean?

Yasmin Allen: Not just how much data you've got, but how you understand the value of it. I think it's a little bit like carbon. We've all got carbon and we've actually all got carbon offsets within our own companies. But if we don't understand the value of it, we won't measure it. We won't store it. We can't potentially sell it. But we've all got that, and it's the same with data. 

You don't actually sell your data. You sell copies of your data. So data is infinite. You can cut and paste and change. So, if you get it right, it's actually a really potentially a huge you know revenue driver. Start with a plan and then start building and then seeing what you can do, what skills you have, whether or not you can introduce a service culture, whether you can bring your customers along your journey, how are you going to deliver it.

Alan Kohler: Is there a danger in if you don't do that, what you’re talking about, the board and the directors become overwhelmed by the amount of data and don't quite know how to deal with it?

Yasmin Allen: If an economic case came to the board that was, ‘We're going to build a massive data lake," the first question will be, "Well, why? What's the economic model?’ And so, the board would think of it more in a strategic sense. Okay, so are we building it because we have a revenue model that our customers want, or we can build a new business around it, or what is the plan? So, I think the plan is what comes up to the board, and then the board also wants to overlay a sort of governance structure around, well, how are we protecting if it's sensitive data, for example, people's health records or financial data, how do we protect that? How do we protect our own IP, actually?

Then, of course, there's the ethical considerations around machine learning and how. I was very interested in Australia when the RoboDebt, was trying to find as much information as I could on how that happened, because that was a social outcome, but it started with a business outcome and a AI learning and a digital data plan, but yet it was a terrible social outcome because of the way it was built. 

Yasmin Allen: How far back to the source of truth are you going to go as a director to satisfy yourselves that we are producing the AI though that we are comfortable with in terms of our basic principles and ethics? But when you're getting into AI machine learning and making decisions on behalf of our employees or our customers using AI, then I think we do have to drill down a bit deeper and we do have to set some really high-level and important principles that we won't go beyond.

Alan Kohler:  Data swamps, data lakes, it seems data is a key to unlocking business potential. But how can boards go about this process in an informed manner? For both Yasmin and Tim, there has to be a plan that’s driven from the top.

Tim Reed: Just getting back to the point of starting with a business plan, at MYOB, we looked at three things that we thought we could do with our data. One was lower our cost, two was improve our service, and three was develop new products that would bring new revenue. It's a very simple framework. And so we started there and said, "Actually, let's get data." And once we got some data and started to pull it together, we realised that we weren't managing them proactively, and that was millions of dollars a year as a cost line for us, that once we got that data, pulled it together, we could manage.

In terms of improving service, this is the one that excited me the most and still does, because customers get really frustrated when they assume that you will know something about them, that your frontline team, your product, whatever it is at that moment in time don't. And it's a real delighter when it does. So, for us, those were things like if you coded a transaction multiple times to the same expense account, then we'd just pop up a little thing saying, "Hey, we've seen you did this three times. Would you like us to do it automatically for you next time?" And those were the things that customers really raved about our product. And that was, probably, the most untapped area for us and I'd say for lots of businesses. And then in terms of brand new products, that's where everyone goes, everyone wants to go, and they think about the way in which we can use this data to launch some comparative statistics or to be able to sway the customers from buying that product to buying this product that has higher margin. That's very difficult, and I would say most companies are right at the start if they've even genuinely started on that journey. But you build really good foundations by focusing on the other areas, because it does, to Yasmin’s point, it does require all of the governance. It requires you to think about the security, the responsibility, et cetera and you can do it in a lower risk way by starting on those areas, than really trying to launch a brand new product.

Alan Kohler: Yasmin, it sounds like from what you're saying that the sort of the combination of business plan followed by data is the foundation of innovation.

Yasmin Allen: Yeah, I think so, and as Tim has rightly said, staying close to your customer. I think that is where most of my large listed companies are at. It is around understanding the customer and what we can deliver to them faster, more efficient, more relevant, and data's really important for that. 

Alan Kohler: The stock market seems to still be applauding announcements by companies that they're going to sack 1000 people or reduce our staff by 2000 people.

Yasmin Allen: So, I've famously said, I don't know if it's famous or not, but I said that we'll know that the investors understand the economic value of retaining our staff is when a company says, ‘We're sacking, you know, a couple of thousand people,’ and the stock price goes down. Because there's a whole lot of stats that are now available for the investors around the impact on productivity. So, if you sack a whole lot of people and your announcing, obviously your productivity goes down by about 40 per cent because the rest of your staff are going, "Oh, when's it my turn? Oh, it's another restructure." That sort of doesn't help.

Yasmin Allen: Whereas, if you invest in your staff, your productivity goes up very significantly, because what you are saying by investing in training is that we care about you, we want to retain you. And so, that additional effort that you get from your people actually does grow, and that leads to better client servicing, you know, particularly if you are a client-facing organisation like a Woolworths or a Coles, you get a much better outcome and you've got a happy employee.

Alan Kohler: I'm interested in your views on the difference between legal and ethical.

Yasmin Allen: Every director thinks that they're ethical, and they are ethical. We've got a whole lot of inputs and it's really hard, you have to be high level and principles-based because you can't analyse every single input. And that's why I use that example of the RoboDebt, the output was clearly wrong. So, it's having those checks and balances in place where you see something that is just not something that we should accept as a company, no matter what it earns, because our reputation is always going to be more important than our balance sheet, always, because it's your reputation that enables you to keep investing and attracting customers.

Tim Reed: I think it can be really valuable to try and think of things in other industries and parallels and just say, ‘And what are we really asking of ourselves in these circumstances?’ And let me give you an example, most people have a Gmail account, or many people have a Gmail account. For years on the terms and conditions that Google had in relation to Gmail, and they have changed them more recently, but for years, Google had the ability to read what was in your emails and then target advertising to you based on the content of your emails. Lots of people didn't realise that that was in the terms and conditions, but it was absolutely clear. What's the parallel from an analog world to that?

Well how would people feel if you had a phone account with Telstra and they listened to every one of your calls and then sold that information to other businesses, to be able to market things to you? I think most people would be reasonably affronted by that.

There's a real value there for directors to try and understand what's happening in the business, and then try and put it in parallel contexts for how might the community think about this in something that we all understand today. 

Alan Kohler: Yasmin, what sort of responsibility do directors have in data privacy and also data security and cybersecurity?

Yasmin Allen: We do have a long way to go when it comes to regulation, but for GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] out of Europe, is pretty strong now around privacy and everybody in Australia sort of says, ‘Okay, well, that's where we need to meet that regulation.’ I think it gets harder, If you are using algorithms and AI and the data that you’re using that goes into that because machine learning just sucks up a whole lot of external data that's not curated and so, if you're going to use that, then you are making decisions at speed, using data that is flawed and biased. 

So, I think we need to think about our use of data and curate almost to change the outcomes so that they are fair and transparent. And a good example of that is the America's Cup. So, the New Zealand team used AI, you know, the latest America's Cup that they won, they used AI on the boat and they didn't use just any old sailor in Auckland Harbor to train their AI, they used Olympians. So, they understood, to be the best they needed to curate a dataset that wasn't just a general dataset. They used a dataset that was over and above, and they did win and I think that's quite a good story.

We need to say, ‘What is it we're trying to do, and what is it we will be comfortable with?’ 

Alan Kohler: Cyber security is of course a huge concern for businesses - we’ve recently seen significant worldwide disruption due to hacking, such as the cyber-criminal gang that took a major US fuel pipeline offline. Yasmin says get ready for the inevitable 

 

Yasmin Allen: I think understanding that it's going to happen and how you respond is the most important thing. So being open, transparent, early advice to either the stock exchange or your customers, or whoever's impacted, disclosure, that sort of thing, and then moving really fast to try and limit the damage. But I think we all understand this is going to be part of life.

Alan Kohler: And what sort of tools do you think are most useful for directors in that and also data more broadly?

Yasmin Allen: Oh, look, there's so many. I think last time I looked, there's like 40,000 companies that want to help you on your cyber journey. But interestingly enough, modern technology is being built now with intrinsic cyber protections. There's no such thing as protection or you can't gold plate yourself, but there are more sort of flags if you like. The upgrading of your assets, of your technology assets is really important.

Alan Kohler: With Yasmin and Tim both referencing the major role that AI and machine learning and cyber play in the data space, I decided to delve into these further, chatting with Lee Hickin, the chief technology officer at Microsoft Australia.

Lee Hickin: Right now we are sort of in this accelerating phase of what we call the second era of AI. We've moved away from AI on old computers and we're moving into this AI on computers designed for AI. And so they're accelerating at a rapid scale and the data accessibility is growing at a huge range. And we're taking these evolutionary steps every four to six months now. The leaps and bounds are huge. Of course with all of that bigger datasets, more accurate models and more smarter tools, we are kind of getting to feel the sense of AI's impact on our real world.

We're seeing it impacting the lives of our normal activities and the things we do. So there's no question we're building these bigger datasets and models and we're creating these great outcomes, but it's still very much what we talk about as being narrow AI. So AI that's just really, really big, but really, really good at doing one thing particularly well. So, for example, we have the GPT three model in human speech recognition, 17 billion bits of data goes into it and it's excellent at identifying different speech patterns and conversations. But it's no good at identifying two different cars for example. So it's built for purpose. We're building better models, but we're a long way from that human comparable experience. And I don't think we're going to see a robot uprising anytime soon.

Alan Kohler: So taking a step back to directors and digital transformation - where should directors be focussing their attention? 

Lee Hickin: What I would suggest is that directors need to be alert and start to learn more about the building blocks and maybe some of the bad practices that can creep into an organisation as a result of AI adoption. And so by building blocks I mean good data governance. The basis of AI and these digital services is data. So the more data governance you have, and by that I mean management of your data, curation of it, labeling of your data, managing access control, building training and culture around a data-centric organisation. That's where directors should be really focusing their attentions on how to grasp that, build mechanisms around it.

And then looking for those bad practices that can creep into any organisation. Data being moved between parts of the business without due process on consideration, which can create these uber datasets that we don't understand the power of. Building tools that your business can’t explain. If you've got something out there that nobody in your business really understands how it's operating, you probably want to take a look at that and think about it. And so it's kind of that broad oversight that the directors really start to need to take some ownership of.

Alan Kohler: And what about the risks? You talk about the bad things coming out of AI, but how should directors approach the risks of it?

Lee Hickin: So, as a guiding principle for me when I go and talk to organisations around AI and data usage, I would push them to look at anything they build from these three lenses. Which is first of all your customers. Do they get value from what you're building? Can you explain that value to a customer in plain and simple terms? From your employee's point of view, does it add to their contribution to your business or does it replace it? How does it work with your business to kind of grow together?

And then lastly, the thing that you deliver the service or the value that your business delivers, does this add to it? Does it replace it, does it open up new markets or kind of does it direct you in a different way? And if you look at it from those three lenses, then you start to get a sense of not the risks view, but the bigger picture. 

Alan Kohler: Lee, what about the line between what's legal and what's ethical? How do directors know what's the right thing to do with AI?

Lee Hickin: The best way for most organisations to do this is to think about the principles of what they want their brand or business to stand for. The things that matter to their audiences, to their consumers and their customers. And that matter to the employees of the organisation. Think a bit about that and then do some work to understand what are the risks. So this is the job of the directors and particularly boards today is to really understand the risks of bad data or bad AI around inclusion, you know transparency, accountability, owning the problem so to speak. And then of course privacy.

Alan Kohler: A lot of companies have data that they might have acquired but not used in a way that could benefit the business, which has come to be known as ‘dark data’. Can you explain that a little further? 

Lee Hickin: It's this idea of, its data that it's in your business. It's intrinsically there but you can't see it or more to the point you can't unlock the value of it. We've got it all filed away but we don't know what it is. We don't know how to use it, we can't tap into the value of it. And this is this intrinsic problem we have today. So much data, so little value being derived from it. And the opportunity is huge. The potential is massive for organisations that can wrangle their head around dark data.

And dark data doesn't stay dark data. It can become whatever the opposite of dark data is. You know, lit up value and value creating data. It can be used, but you've got to kind of almost sweep every corner of your business to understand. You've got to classify it understand it, label it and then put the controls around it. APIs to make sure it can be accessed by your business. It's not something that is locked away. We can get value back from dark data, but it just takes effort and work.

Alan Kohler: Technology and data are moving really quickly. What's it going to be like in five to 10 years do you think?

Lee Hickin: So I sit in the IT industry and I have sat in that for a long time. What I'm seeing is quite a significant growth in investment in both the technology. So we're building better models and building more technology and making it more available. And I'm seeing that investment in responsible processes and ethics committees and organisations and peers of ours. But of course because I'm in that world, it's probably something of a bubble. And over the next 10 years what is absolutely going to happen is AI and digital technologies that underpin that are going to become even more of the core of every business in every sector. I have the privilege of occasionally having a conversation with Professor Genevieve Bell whom I'm sure you've heard of.

And we've had this conversation about how is AI going to grow? Is it just going to grow on its own? And the answer is no, it's not just going to grow. It needs a purpose. It needs to grow in the context of its surroundings by the people, the processes, the industry and the outcomes. So we need Australian businesses, Australian industry to sort of recognise that opportunity, embrace the potential for what AI and data and digital can do and adopt it and take some, I won't say take chances, but look at the opportunity. Don't get encumbered by the risks or the unknown risks. Look at the potential you could do. We're seeing it already in retail, mining resources, finance industries. You know they've got money and they're spending a lot on this. I would love to see in the next 10 years that we actually start to see a real advancement in government digital platforms to enable us as citizens to move through our lives in a more seamless way.

People like myself, who are the responsible AI leads for Australia we take responsibility for how that process of assessment, governance process. Do we ask the right questions? Do we ensure that we are akin to and aware of the sensitive uses that AI may have? Is it going to cause someone harm? If we applied it in a certain way could it deny someone access to a service? And we'd walk and talk through these challenges, It's a governance process, it's not a technology process.  

We talk and we think and we work through the issues and what we do is provide guidance, not rules. If you're going to build this, think about this issue, think about inclusivity, think about people's experiences with that technology.

Lee Hickin: I hope that we continue to build the digital services at the pace we have done over the last 18 months during the pandemic. And if we do that and we continue to ask some core questions, what is this AI going to do for people? Where did the data come from? Does this tool help us achieve more? Are we going to explore the risks of harms? Are we building a future where this AI and this data is going to enhance someone's life in some way? And if we think about it from that lens, then, you know, the hope is that we can create opportunities for Australian businesses to grow and compete on the global stage.

Alan Kohler: That’s Microsoft’s Lee Hickin wrapping up this episode of Directors on Digital.  

Huge thanks to Tim Reed, Yasmin Allen, and Lee Hickin for sharing their insights on the power of data to leverage value alongside digital transformation.

So where’s the best place to start? Think about your customers first and about what they need from you that you can’t deliver today. 

Focussing on outcomes and then asking how data and AI can help is a great framework to kick these discussions off.

Please join me next time when I chat with Siobhan McKenna, director of Woolworths and executive chairman of Foxtel, Fox Sports and Sky News. And Peeyush Gupta, director of NAB, SBS and Link Group about best practice in managing risk to create value.

Peeyush Gupta: ‘The opposite side of the coin to risk is opportunity. It's as much about intelligent risk management as about intelligently seeking opportunities.’

All that and more in the next episode of Directors on Digital. I’m Alan Kohler, see you again next time.