Last year was a seminal year for the development of digital Britain. In 2012, we hosted the first truly digital Olympics, hit 10 million users on twitter and completed the digital switchover for the country’s TV services.
Digital technology has undoubtedly already significantly changed the way people interact with companies. It’s been a tremendous driver of transparency and enabled a different kind of conversation between brands and their stakeholders – two-way, authentic and more accountable. It’s this recognition that’s steered our own approach to engaging people in our sustainability journey, which we do by getting our staff to post short videos and blogs on our sustainability website to give people a unique behind-the-scenes perspective on our efforts.
But the rapid pace of change in digital technology can also create some challenges. At Virgin Media, we recognize we can have a big impact on the development of a “digital society,” which we need to manage responsibly. Because as well as creating loads of new opportunities – for doing business, communicating, getting access to information and entertainment — we know an increasingly digital society throws up challenges like keeping kids safe online, data privacy and online piracy.
So what are the biggest issues when it comes to the impacts of digital technology on our lives? What do digital consumers think are the most important? And what are the most relevant issues for companies aiming to operate responsibly the digital space?
We set out to answer some of these questions through a new program called “Our digital future.” As one of the UK’s largest providers of superfast broadband services, understanding the impact of our digital technology on people’s lives, their communities and society at large is a key part of our corporate sustainability strategy. This is something our stakeholders expect us to be thinking about and acting on, even if some of them – staff and customers included – don’t always call it “sustainability.”
Putting the impact of our core products at the heart of our sustainability strategy and engaging a broad range of stakeholders about how we can work together to tackle challenges and even unlock opportunities for new ways of doing things represents an important development in the way we think about sustainability. It’s an approach that all companies can follow – not only because it makes sense from a sustainability perspective, but also because there’s a real business case. We’ve created a differentiated approach that’s true to our business, with a big focus on engagement that supports what our brand is all about.