SCDI, ScotlandIS, The Royal Society of Edinburgh and BT Scotland have today published a new report - ‘Digital Solutions to the Productivity Puzzle’ - on how digital transformation can meet Scotland’s key economic challenge of increasing productivity.
The recommendations were developed following discussions by senior representatives of the industry and the public and private sectors in Scotland at a Digital & Productivity Forum and research commissioned from the economist John McLaren. The report says that the Scottish Government and all sectors need to focus on utilising the new, world-class digital infrastructure in Scotland for higher economic growth and public service improvements over the next five years.
The report makes recommendations on business transformation, data, skills and infrastructure. The first Chief Digital Officer for Scotland should be appointed with responsibility to offer high-profile, expert leadership and challenge across the Scottish Government and the public and private sectors. It calls for similar senior appointments across the public and private sectors to provide stronger leadership on digitalisation and for action to recruit, train and continually develop more specialist Computer Science teachers.
The research identified that developments in Information and Communications Technology have been, and are likely to continue to be, a key driver of productivity, but that the impact in the UK has fallen behind the US and other European countries. It also found that while there is a crucial role to be played by invention and innovation as sources of productivity growth, there is an even greater role played by assimilation and ‘catching up’ by companies who are not at the forefront of technological progress.
It has been estimated that if Scotland became a digital world leader, GDP would increase £13bn by 2030, compared to £4bn with only incremental improvements. However, there is a need to increase the speed of digitalisation in the public sector and a survey of Scottish businesses has found that over two-thirds are currently classed as 'basic browsers' or 'tentative techies' for digital adoption, usage, benefits and skills. The report highlights evidence that countries in which digital is contributing most to productivity growth, such as the US, combine ICT investment with new management structures and high skill levels, and that organisational redesigns will be required for Scotland to catch-up with them and realise the full potential from digital investments.
Read the 'Digital Solutions to the Productivity Puzzle' Report