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We live in an ever-increasingly digital world. Even before the pandemic, we shopped, socialised, played games, took courses, did our banking and so much more online and using digital tools. As business analysts, this digital transformation of society has changed and shaped our roles, bringing us closer and closer to customer-facing tools and products. Many companies now have a digital product offering in addition to their core product or service, be that an app or website.
Driven by the ever-changing trends online and competitive technology markets, the pace of digital product development is necessarily fast and the product-to-market time is short. However, this opens society up to risk. It seems that barely a week goes by when a tech company is not in the news for breaching users’ privacy, losing user data, skirting along the edges of regulation around ethics or not ‘doing the right thing’. It’s not just the tech giants though; many digital products and experiences are designed to capture attention, engage users and invoke some kind of action – often conversion to sales or brand engagement. Many of the techniques used to do this can be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of users. Then there are unintended impacts and uses of technology – those cases where technology is used by an unintended audience, where it is misused, where groups of people are excluded from using technology or where bias is unintentionally built into digital products.
As business analysts, we are well placed to challenge, to push for ethical practice and ethical product design, to use our toolkit to carry out more thorough impact analysis and to use empathy to truly understand our customers and users. In doing so, we can contribute to a safer, more ethical, inclusive digital world, where we can leverage the many benefits of technology, whilst mitigating against potential negative impacts.
About the Speaker
Rachel Drinkwater has been a Business Analyst for almost 20 years, which often comes as a bit of a shock. She is passionate about the profession, is a Senior Business Analyst for Coventry University and volunteers as the Blog Strategy Manager for the IIBA UK, helping to bring quality knowledge and information to Business Analysts. Rachel is a writer and blogger and has been published in the BCS’ ITNow magazine, as well as self-publishing to her own blog (www.racheldrinkwater.com). Rachel is fascinated by the effects of the digital world on society and following her Masters degree in 2016, she continues to undertake academic research in the areas of ethical digital practice, digital in society and cyber-psychology and enjoys sharing her findings as a guest lecturer at various universities in addition to speaking at industry conferences. She is also an actor and former Board Director of Teatro Theatre School, a charity who help disadvantaged young people build their confidence through the arts. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking around the English countryside, doing yoga, playing board games and going to gigs and festiva