Digital transformation across industries can help save trillions of dollars in cost and consumers stand to benefit more from it provided there are policy incentives to improve societal outcomes, says a report.
The findings of the World Economic Forum Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI) found much of the value that digitalisation can potentially generate for society would remain trapped unless efforts are stepped up to align private sector investment incentives with long term public good.
“More than half of the value that digitalisation offers is in the form of societal benefits. These include net job creation and reduced income inequality, improved health outcomes and fewer accidents, reduced carbon emissions and time and cost savings for consumers,” it said.
Bruce Weinelt, Head of DTI at WEF, said majority of the benefits of digital would accrue to society, but only if collective action is taken to assess the potential, using consistent criteria to evaluate the outcomes of specific policy actions.
“Digital transformation across industries could save millions of lives and trillions of dollars in cost,” the report said, adding that digitalisation could benefit consumers more than businesses.
Among others, the report has emphasised the need for rapid re-skilling and greater alignment of education with the new demands of fast-changing markets.
While new technologies have the potential to increase economic growth, reduce inequality and promote inclusivity, the report said they could be jeopardised by retreat of globalisation, the rise of political populism and social instability.
There is also need for responsive and responsible leadership to proactively counter forces that would constrain innovation, trade and growth, it added.
The DTI project, in collaboration with Accenture, has completed value-at-stake analyses in 10 industries to help the private sector identify growth opportunities. This is complemented with a new societal value framework enabling the private and public sectors to understand and measure wider societal benefits in financial terms.
The new societal value model has been tried in India, the UK and Denmark to engage dialogue with policy-makers.
“In the Indian state of Telangana, the four digital initiative models demonstrated that value generated in the next decade could be equal to 40 per cent of India’s GDP in 2015.
“Of the benefits of digitalisation, 94 per cent could accrue to society and the environment, as opposed to industry,” the report said.—PTI