Polly Purvis: Scotland's tech sector is thinking bigger

What lies ahead for Scotland's digital tech sector in 2017, asks Polly Purvis

Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS, says digital tech firms are thinking bigger. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL

At ScotlandIS, we view 2017 as a year of significant promise, with continued growth forecast across the digital economy.

The recent flurry of high profile investment in technology companies such as Skyscanner, FreeAgent and FanDuel has highlighted Scotland’s ability to create world class technology businesses.

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Tech businesses are exploiting the experience and expertise the sector now benefits from, together with global best practice in areas as diverse as software engineering practices and digital sales techniques, equipping them with the tools to be internationally successful.

Tech entrepreneurs are thinking bigger, and many of the specialist services of a sophisticated ecosystem are increasingly available. With these building blocks in place we’ll see the benefits spill over into other key Scottish industries.

Developments in digital technology are enabling many of Scotland’s more traditional industries to compete more effectively in the global economy.

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For example, advances in data analytics are being adopted and used to help companies innovate and grow throughout the wider economy, using the skills and tools developed by our pioneering data scientists. Analysis and modeling will no longer be perceived as quite so daunting as their use permeates all businesses, helping companies plan more efficiently, control their costs and target their customers more effectively.

Scotland’s games and animation businesses are already working at the forefront of next generation digital media, and with advances in areas such as virtual and augmented reality there’s real potential to create new applications in business, leisure and public services. The vast experience and heritage in textiles, if combined with digital technologies has the potential to create new opportunities in the smart textiles sector and we will see the further spread of smart energy solutions across the country.

Medtech innovation will become more commonplace. We’ll see additional automation around healthcare and life science as the Scottish public sector continues to roll out digital technology to our hospitals, care homes and private dwellings, through its advanced telehealth and telecare programmes. Continued progress will be made in bringing together health, social and educational information to model, predict and target the needs of citizens better, plan more effectively and reduce costs in the public sector.

High profile successes and the fact that Scotland is increasingly viewed as one of the go-to places for leading edge digital technology means that investment in the sector will continue.

As we look forward to 2017 there is so much pent up excitement in the sector, and a real ‘can do’ attitude. This together with a strong appetite for growth, and a determination to scale and take on global markets all combine to make 2017 a real year of promise.

Polly Purvis is chief executive of ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technologies industry north of the border