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Firms using new platforms to innovate

Digital technology now driving Scottish economy

digital economyDigital technologies, including the internet, social media and data analytics are driving innovation and sales in the Scottish economy.

Three-quarters of firms say digital platforms of all types are “vital” to their operations and 92% now have access to broadband.

Over 4,000 businesses took part in a survey commissioned by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Skills Development Scotland.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister said the survey showed Scotland moving towards being a “world class digital economy” which is being backed by government spending. He said the survey would play a key role in informing and targeting those areas that need attention.

“We are investing £13.6 million through our Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. The Partnership is delivering these funds through two distinct programmes, the first designed to provide advice and support to businesses on the benefits of digital platforms, tools and technologies, with a second aimed at increasing the flow of skilled workers to the sector,” he said.

“The data obtained through this survey will play a vital role in helping us to ensure that our support and advice remain well designed and targeted, and to monitor our progress over the coming years.

“We will also continue, through our Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme, to provide homes and businesses across the country with access to high-speed broadband infrastructure.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is leading on the roll-out of fibre for its region, and delivers a wide range of initiatives to support businesses and communities to maximise the benefits of broadband.

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital said: “The roll-out of fibre across the Highlands and Islands is opening up access to high speed broadband for many of our businesses for the first time. The survey figures reveal that 73 per cent of the region’s firms already think digital technology is essential or important to their future growth. As roll-out continues, these findings provide a benchmark to track progress as HIE works with our businesses to build the benefits of better broadband into their plans.”

Ian Blewett, Scottish Enterprise’s Head of Digital Economy said: “These survey results are crucial in helping Scottish Enterprise and the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership understand the scale and the appropriate nature of support required to enable Scotland’s businesses to take full advantage of the productivity and market-reach benefits of digital technologies.”

Key points from the digital survey

In total, 4,002 businesses (excluding sole traders) took part in the survey via telephone. Just over 1,800 of these interviews were carried out with businesses in the SE area, with the remainder in the HIE area, enabling detailed results for both.

  • 92 per cent of businesses had access to a broadband connection (19 per cent had Next Generation Access – broadband products providing a download speed that is greater than 24Mbit/s – and 73 per cent had standard broadband.
  • The most widely adopted digital platforms and technologies were the use of a company website (73 per cent), mobile technologies (64 percent) and using social media (53 per cent).
  • 71 per cent of businesses that use digital technologies stated that they have used the technologies to aid innovation.
  • 75 per cent of businesses stated that digital technologies are either essential or important for the current operations and future growth or competitiveness
  • Overall, there is a desire amongst a majority of businesses that already use digital technologies to further develop their usage (77 per cent).
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