Given that our focus for the September Bulletin is on technology, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at what the data is telling us on adoption of digital tech by businesses in Scotland and some of the opportunities out there to accelerate your own digital journey.

In August, the Scottish Government published the results of its Digital Economy Business Survey, or DEBS, alongside a digital maturity index. On initial glance, it’s clear that despite progress on rolling out infrastructure and businesses ramping up the use of tech following the impact of the pandemic, there’s still work to do. The majority of businesses in Scotland still fall into the ‘basic’ and ‘intermediate’ levels of the digital maturity scale – accounting for 72% of firms.

Even current levels of digital adoption are reaping real benefits for Scottish firms though, with the survey highlighting that digital technology has made businesses more efficient, more competitive and helped them to reduce their carbon footprint. Just under half of businesses said that incorporating digital technology had helped to increase the skills of their workforce.

However, it was clear that sourcing the right digital skills remains a challenge, with only around a fifth of businesses stating that they were ‘fully equipped to meet the business’s digital technology needs’.

It’s important to note that whether you’re just making the first steps into adoption of new tech, or have big plans to integrate new technologies into your business – there are a wealth of support schemes out there. Services like DigitalBoost, offered by Business Gateway, give access to a dedicated adviser who can walk through the steps to enhance your presence online or build a digital strategy.

If you are an SME that is a little more advanced in your planning and know that a key piece of software will help you make a leap forward, you should keep an eye out for the UK Government’s new Help to Grow Digital scheme, due to launch in the autumn. Alongside advice, businesses will be able to secure a discount of up to 50% on ecommerce, CRM or accounting software, via a grant token of up to £5,000.

In addition to government schemes, education providers across the region continue to evolve their offerings to ensure firms are ready to tackle skills gaps. Check out the ‘Future Skills Partnership’ online – a hub which showcases the digital courses and events running throughout the North-east.

Chambers of Commerce also continue to campaign for infrastructure improvements to support digital connectivity too. If your premises doesn’t yet have the opportunity to access a superfast connection, there are a range of grant schemes available as the Scottish Government’s main ‘R100’ programme looks to roll out faster speeds nationally. The level of grant depends on if the national scheme will eventually reach your premises, and ranges from £400 to £5,000 – certainly worth exploring if an outdated connection is holding back your ambitions.

If reading through the Bulletin this month has inspired you to take your business on the next part of its digital journey, make sure you take advantage of the support out there. As always, if you need help getting oriented in the right direction, get in touch with the Chamber team – we promise not to ask if you’ve tried switching it off then on again…