We all have a role to play in booming Scottish tech sector - David Anderson

Scotland’s technology sector is booming, growing one and half times faster than the overall economy. The rapid advances of new technologies and data intelligence are reshaping all aspects of communities, businesses, and socialising, but what does this mean for day-to-day business operations across Scotland?

David Anderson is a Corporate Partner, Addleshaw Goddard

To understand this, Addleshaw Goddard recently published a comprehensive report - Has tech outpaced business? - in partnership with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute. As a continuation of the Scottish Business Monitor which highlights business sentiment across Scotland, more than 500 Scottish-based businesses across industries including healthcare, financial services, accommodation, transport, construction, and manufacturing responded to the survey.

Unsurprisingly, the majority (73%) of organisations had adopted new technology and accelerated digital innovation to enable business continuity throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Of these businesses, 93% said these changes will persist in the long-term, with 44% stating that this would be to a large extent. This underlines that, today, every organisation is a technology business regardless of what sector they operate in.

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A fast-forward button has been pushed on digital transformation at both a board and governmental level. For most companies, technology is no longer a choice – it is imperative to survive and that’s why business models that have been adequate for decades should now consider a tech-focused future. People buy less products; they buy more solutions and that’s where tech comes in.

Most importantly, business leaders now need to prioritise how they balance human and technology interactions to achieve the best results. At board level, the understanding of what technology makes possible still remains insufficient.

The role technology has to play within commercial enterprise is now far broader than in the past. It has shifted from something which supports business function into perhaps the primary strategic consideration a company leader must consider in taking their business forwards.

Some sectors have been more successful than others at integrating technology into their operations. However, this is partly because there are a number of stumbling blocks to be addressed on a wider scale by government and its bodies. Although the Scottish Government has been working hard to deliver improved physical infrastructure in tandem with the UK Government, public policy infrastructure and ring-fenced investment has to plug the gap that is holding up progress.

Healthcare, running a decade behind other European countries in its adoption of digital record keeping, would need to be mandated by government to produce meaningful improvements in healthcare quality. However, we know it’s possible as we look to Denmark, where digital media records have been mandatory for more than 10 years.

Chief executives, managing directors and finance officers have all been common roles in a traditional business model for decades. However, over the last few years there has been a significant increase in the number of firms appointing a dedicated chief technology officer (CTO) as they rapidly recognise that tech needs dedicated attention to maximise business productivity and success and that that CTO is given a meaningful seat at the boardroom table.Understanding tech is no mean feat but as it encroaches on all aspects of our personal and professional lives, we all have a role to play in optimising the innovation and intelligence it possesses. Utilising tech and digital innovation is intrinsic to business success.

To view the Tech Report, visit addleshawgoddard.com/techreport2020.

David Anderson is a Corporate Partner, Addleshaw Goddard

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