To balance the rewards and the risks, companies need to nurture their brands by:
- Investing in and testing new tools to manage brands: AI is the force behind a new generation of tools to help companies monitor and grow their brands. Examples include employing image recognition to ensure appropriate logo use on a global basis or using natural language processing (NLP) to track social media conversations and sentiment about the brand in real time.
- Having an absolute focus on building public trust: This requires that high ethical standards be set, communicated and monitored. Watching for changes in external expectations is crucial: The horizontal nature of AI technologies (e.g. NLP or image recognition) means that issues will quickly cross sectoral barriers within an industry. Behaving well, and being seen to behave well, will require willingness to respond to mistakes with a degree of transparency and humility. In certain crisis situations, board members may need to help set the approach.
- AI for social good: There are many ways to use AI tools and resources to deliver better outcomes for the wider social good, including education, environment, health and hunger, equality and inclusion, and crisis response. Companies with strong AI capabilities can partner with NGOs and humanitarian organizations to lend their expertise in developing AI-based projects with a focus on social good.
While the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance do not specify technology in the list of responsibilities, boards cannot carry out their oversight duties without considering how their company’s use of AI, and management of its consequences, will affect the company brand.
Many responsibilities that apply to other modules pertain to brand and reputational management:
- To act in good faith, with due diligence and care, boards should be fully informed about plans for applying AI in their strategy, AI’s alignment with core values and ethical standards, the risks associated with their AI strategy, and regulations affecting the use of AI. Directors should have access to accurate, relevant and timely information.
- To oversee corporate strategy, major plans of actions, risk management and budgets and business plans, boards should review and guide management’s vision, goals, actions and expenditure on AI, their support for innovation and use of new AI resources, management’s awareness and plans for legal compliance and ameliorating AI risk, and competitors’ use of and plans for AI.
- To oversee corporate performance, expenditures and acquisitions, boards should review and guide AI’s alignment with strategy, shareholder values, ethics, performance and risk indicators, implementation of AI plans, the effectiveness of AI to accelerate processes and improve productivity, major investments in AI systems and talent, and acquisitions.
See the Responsibility module for more details about the G20/OECD Principles and the above responsibilities.
This section includes three tools to help directors oversee management’s engagement with the brand’s AI aspects.
The knowledge assessment tool helps board members rate whether they possess, or have access to, the knowledge required independently to judge management’s knowledge and leadership of AI and brand strategy.
The performance review tool consists of questions boards can ask management about their knowledge of AI and competitive strategy and the progress and performance of their actions. It offers the SCEPTIC framework to help directors assess the answers they receive.
The guidance tool offers possible suggestions for further action in an “If, then” format.
(All links as of 5/8/19)
- Katie King, Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, Kogan Page, 2019.
- Paula Boddington, Towards a Code of Ethics for Artificial Intelligence, Springer, 2017.
Reports and articles
- Aviv Ovadya and Hal Beinstock, “Is Your Company Ready to Protect Its Reputation from Deep Fakes?” Harvard Business Review, 8 November 2018.
- "Decoding Brand Reputation In The Age of Artificial Intelligence”, Hanover Communications.
- James Vincent, “Google and Microsoft Warn Investors that Bad AI Could Harm their Brand”, The Verge, February 2019.
- Kevin Cochrane, “To Regain Consumer’s Trust, Marketers Need Transparent Data Practices”, Harvard Business Review, June 2018.
- Michael Chui, Martin Harrysson, James Manyika et al., “Applying Artificial Intelligence for Social Good”, McKinsey, November 2018.
- Rich Hutchinson, Dominic Field et al., “The Future of Marketing Is Here. Don’t Blink”, Boston Consulting Group, 30 November 2018.
- Tim Gordon, “4 Best Practices for Minimising Risk to Your Brand from AI Adoption”, Best Practice AI Ltd, 30 January 2019.