Major survey highlights tech trends in the Scottish business community

Ross McKenzie, Addleshaw Goddard commercial services partner

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THE use of technology and adoption of digital innovation within Scottish businesses has accelerated at an extraordinary level in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report launched today.

As a continuation of the Addleshaw Goddard and Fraser of Allander Institute Scottish Business Monitor which highlights business sentiment across Scotland, the latest figures indicate the shift in attitude towards the fundamental requirement for inclusive tech systems, infrastructure and future-proofed planning to enable business continuity and economic growth.

More than 500 Scottish-based businesses across industries including healthcare, financial services, accommodation, transport, construction, and manufacturing responded to the survey conducted in July. Key findings indicate that the majority of organisations have adopted new technology to provide their goods and services with a large proportion of firms expecting these changes to continue permanently.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 73% of businesses said that the pandemic has encouraged them to adopt new technology to provide their goods and services
  • 81% of large businesses said they had accelerated digital plans while 54% had introduced them and 66% of small and medium sized businesses said they had accelerated digital plans, while 34% had introduced them
  • 93% of firms said that these changes will persist in the long-term, with 44% stating that this would be to a large extent
  • 57% of large firms expected these changes to persist to a large extent, compared to 42% of small or medium sized firms

The collaborative report, which includes views from a range of spokespeople at organisations including The Data Lab, Scottish Futures Trust, Royal Bank of Scotland, Snag Tights, Par Equity, Fraser of Allander, Fintech Scotland, XDesign, The Law Society Scotland, Phlo, University of Strathclyde, Obashi, Sekoia, FNZ and CommsWorld, explores themes including the rise of tech in the workplace, data ownership and handling, connectivity and buy-in from decision makers to enable a thriving tech ecosystem.

Ross McKenzie, Addleshaw Goddard commercial services partner, said: “The report findings highlight the drive we are seeing in the energy sector to accelerate technology innovation, especially in energy transition which continues to be an intrinsic enabler in Aberdeen’s future.

“Tech and digital innovation are a catalyst for success within the market and our report highlights the fundamental impact new processes, savvy data-handling and consistent tech evolution has in supporting Aberdeen as it establishes itself as a global tech hub.

“A recent report from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre mirrors this, and has laid down the gauntlet on the net zero future for the UK North Sea which recognises job opportunities that could be realised and paves an exciting future for the city.”

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic and consequent social lockdown accelerated digital adoption with all contributors to the report agreeing that businesses across all sectors had been forced to reconsider their use of technology.

Graeme Roy, Fraser of Allander Institute director, said: “Technology and how we understand it is rapidly changing. Businesses and decision-makers need to review the balance between human and tech interactions to achieve the best outcomes and progress as we’re presented with new digitally enhanced opportunities.

“However, this doesn’t come without challenges. Data-handling and collection remains the biggest unanswered question when it comes to harnessing the value technology presents and this is something the majority of businesses surveyed noted.

“As fibre broadband is rolled out and 5G coverage delivered, things will continue to change but that’s why it’s crucial we continue to ask questions and strive for success both at a national and international level in the tech market.”

Fintech investment in the UK more than doubled from 2018 to 2019, with £4bn invested in fintech firms in 2019. This makes fintech the UK’s largest tech sub-sector for investment, with still huge potential for continued growth that the report touches on.

Stephen Ingledew, Fintech Scotland chief executive, said: “Technology now plays a significant role in all of our personal and working lives with pervasive impact right across all dimensions of society and the economy.

“The rapid advances of new technologies and data intelligence are reshaping all aspects of communities and business effectively, resulting in new paradigms for everyone.

“Everyone has a role to play in shaping the new digital and data driven economy and this report makes an important contribution to how we can progress with confidence as innovative, collaborative and inclusive business leaders.”

 

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