Q: What is the genesis of RCI?

A: In 2019-20, IBM spoke with hundreds of CTOs for its annual Architecture Decision Points 3.0 report. In that year, the CTOs reported significant challenges and anxieties related to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) concerns that signaled several seismic shifts in industry.  They believed that a fundamental re-architecting of IT infrastructure was needed to address the challenges facing most organizations, but they didn’t know how to achieve the desired outcomes.

As a result, some pioneering CTOs agreed to a grass-roots effort that would advance the development of principles and a framework that deliver on a vision for responsible computing. These tech leaders went on to found RCI.


Q: What were the CTO’s pain points?  

A: In the report, the CTO’s pain points included human-centric and digital responsibility issues. They feel they are behind the curve in the six interconnected domains of the RCI framework: Sustainability, Ethics, Trust, Open Source, Inclusion, and Climate. They asked:

  • Are we doing enough to reduce the carbon impact of our technological decisions?
  • Are we doing enough ensuring that the infrastructure we use is minimizing its impact on the environment? Can it be more efficient?
  • Are we being thoughtful in how we reduce the amount of rare metals consumed by our sprawling infrastructure?
  • Is the code that we’re producing, efficient, secure, and fit for the future?
  • Are we being ethical in capturing the data for its right use?
  • Are the AI systems that we’re building explainable and ethical? Are they free from bias? Are we amplifying things we shouldn’t be amplifying?
  • Are our systems inclusive? Do they cater to the diversity of humanity that they serve?


Q: Which industries are included in RCI?

A: RCI’s reach is intentionally broad, spanning Consumer, Financial Services, Travel & Transport, Insurance, Government, Energy, Environment & Utilities, Telco & Media, and Industrial verticals. It addresses a cross-section of industry because they are facing the same issues at different stages.


Q: What is responsible computing?

A: Rethinking the system to respond to global challenges such as the need to drive to net zero emissions, greater digital inclusion, or ethics, can’t happen in isolation. The interconnectedness of the multiple challenges facing organizations also presents further complexity. No one organization can fix this alone. Responsible computing, spearheaded by RCI, fills a need for an open collaborative/open standard model to foster industry-wide collaboration. It was built to address the need for business sustainability, systems simplification, and broader business and ESG impact.


Q: What is a sustainable enterprise?

A: A sustainable enterprise runs its business while considering opportunities and risks related to the environment and social impact – which challenge the strategies and operating models of organizations across all sectors and functions. Whether it’s new market opportunities, operational efficiency, risk management, changing customer expectations, supply chain disruptions or the like, environmental and social impact objectives will directly affect how a company operates and defines its competitive advantage.

This is especially true as the world recovers from the pandemic. It’s now impossible to deny the speed at which developments in one area can spread across the entire world, nor their potential for economic devastation. Environmental issues remain a discrete set of concerns related to sustainability, climate change, air and water quality, waste management, alternative energy, or other admirable goals outside the core of most organizations’ primary focus.


Q: What is the link between “sustainable” and “responsible”?

Becoming a sustainable enterprise and a responsible computing provider are closely linked. The RCI framework provides guidelines to help business leaders consider the full impact of their IT decisions on the environment and society. Responsible computing goes beyond the environment and encourages leaders to consider how their use of technology can further equality, openness, trust and inclusion, to enable a truly “sustainable enterprise” in its most holistic sense.


Q: What are the business outcomes of responsible computing?

A: There are significant benefits from responsible computing, ranging from increased brand value and commercial advantage to an increased edge in the battle for talent. Responsible computing reduces costs and increases operational efficiencies. Sustainability and circularity have a virtuous circle of financial returns.  Additionally, organizations will be differentiated among their customers and employees – and the biggest benefits will come to the earliest adopters.