Our Chief Executive Officer and Institute of Directors Fellow, Scott McGlinchey, caught up with award winning Tech Journalist, Bill Magee, for the latest issue of The Institute of Directors Magazine. Here's what he had to say about Scotland in the Digital era.

Here’s a question: Could we create a more collaborative, cohesive and joined-up Scotland where we help each other in trade and commerce; with real partnerships, with measurable outcomes creating new supply chains and an enhanced indigenous marketplace? Not in place of internalisation but alongside it: effectively developing our own eco-market?

We could start in the tech sector because digital technology skills are getting more scarce and we need to grow and develop more of our own indigenous talent to meet an increasing national demand. LogicMonitor maintains that over four-out­-of-five enterprise workloads will be in the Cloud by 2020, while two-thirds of IT professionals report security as their greatest concern towards adopting an enterprise cloud computing strategy.

Whatever the percentages or numbers are, the growth globally in expenditure in cloud computing, cyber security and mobile and software development will rise significantly year-on-year. Emerging tech such as artificial intelligence, IoT, augmented reality, Blockchain and robotics are also becoming more prevalent.

Backing all of this demand is a Scotland IS and Public Sector ICT expenditure report highlighting future increased investments in mobile working, technology-supported mobile working, cloud and cyber security. Digital isn’t just about being more effective or efficient in your business. It is about being faster, innovative and agile. It’s also about sustainability. For businesses, Scott always encourages Executives to dream a little about what can be possible? Visualise where you want your business to be and then see how this digital tech armoury can potentially help make it happen.

Scott recounts that he was taught (not too many years ago) by an INSEAD professor, that nothing stops you but yourself. In many cases this is true, and what he describes as “thinking adventures” can do no harm and just might pay dividends.

Harvard Business Review says today’s decision-makers face environments in which things that were isolated from one another are now bumping up against each other at a rate of knots – and often with unexpected results. None more so than the digitisation of what represents an exponential rise in the amounts of information; smart systems that communicate interdependently; a decreasing cost of computer power; and the increasing ease of communicating rich content to the other side of the planet.

Now we have the imminent General Data Protection Regulation that requires each and every one of us to get our house in order. Yet, it was something of a surprise to discover from an Institute of Directors survey that two-out-of­-five company directors still do not know if their businesses will be affected by GDPR. The EU-driven regulation comes into force in May and strengthens the obligations of ALL business to safeguard individuals’ personal information including that of an organisation’s customer base. Such binding compliance comes against a backdrop of radical technological advances and data surveillance anxieties that can collectively leave all a bit bewildered.

Amidst all this confusion, to help Scotland to stand out internationally, the development of our nation’s skills and capabilities would be greatly helped if we saw a significant increase in co-operation between well-established organisations and companies that are at an early stage of their development, or just starting out in this fiercely competitive commercial world.

Such a move will help our SME community to further invest in the country’s skill base and increase the employment opportunity we all desperately want if Scotland is to sustain and develop its international reputation for quality people skill and excellent customer care. Let’s start at home first – it would be a digital win-win all round for Scotland, when you think about it.

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