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Technology 4 December 2020

Barbara Martin Coppola speaks at annual Web Summit

Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Digital Officer at Ingka Group, this week spoke at Web Summit, one of the largest tech conferences in the world, about how technology can help us get to a more equitable and sustainable world, centred in humanity.

In a year like no other, digital and tech have grown to take an even larger space in society. People and organisations, who used to be technology laggards, have now gone digital. They shop online, meet online, stream their entertainment and have switched to remote working. Globally, ecommerce has surged by more than 50 percent.

During Web Summit, Barbara participated in an interesting and thought-provoking panel with Meredith Whittaker, Co-Founder of AI Now Institute, an interdisciplinary research centre at New York University (NYU) that explores the social implications of artificial intelligence, where the two pointed out that although many people are now longing to go back to normal, that it wouldn’t be the right way to go. As Barbara pointed out, when we emerge from this global crisis, we have an opportunity for a big reset, shaping and driving our future in a new way to use technology for good.

“It’s important to understand that technology is actually a force of good, if used in the right way. During the pandemic, technology has saved lives and it has helped people stay connected virtually. I see so many examples where technology is helping us create positive things, where it helps us democratise our society by giving people a voice. Now we need a big reset, with the help of technology, and this technology must be human at its core”, says Barbara Martin Coppola.

Barbara has identified what she calls the Four Principles of Human Technology, which IKEA and every other company should base their innovation and design on to achieve positive change:

  • Simplicity
  • Transparency
  • Positive Impact 
  • Inclusivity

“Digital tools are wasted if they only replicate existing processes. Instead they allow us to rethink and reshape how we use technology. At IKEA, we are putting humans at the core of our technology. We are trying to democratise how people use technology, and how they control technology”, says Barbara.

Many people worry about data privacy online. More regulation is needed, and companies such as IKEA can make a big difference. As a very concrete way of applying the Four Principles of Human Technology the company has created the Customer Data Promise.

“We believe everyone deserves to feel at home online. And that means being valued, secure and in control. We are guided by the respect we have for each and every one of our customers. This means giving customers the control over their data, ensuring that they understand how their data is used and ensure that they will benefit from sharing their data with us. These principles are now being built into our products, we’ve already started with our IKEA app and we will continue to include all our channels. We are not perfect, but we are working hard on making our vision come to life!”

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Barbara Martin Coppola Web Summit Lisbon November 2019

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