This review was carried out in partnership with our enterprise and skills bodies with participation from ScotlandIS, (the trade body for the digital technology sector in Scotland) and the Technology Advisory Group. It was clear from the outset that there is common recognition of the opportunities to be capitalised on by seeking to position Scotland as a world-leading digital economy.
A considerable amount of work is already underway across our enterprise and skills bodies: providing specialist technology advice and support to our SME base; designing bespoke programmes to help some of our key sectors better understand the role that technology can play in enhancing productivity and boosting growth; working with industry and academia to exploit key capabilities within the digital economy, such as digital health and care, big data, smart mobility, and sensor systems; working with industry to understand future skills requirements and tailoring programmes to suit.
Our review has found that support programmes across the different agencies have evolved over time in a pragmatic fashion in response to new opportunities arising, seeking to keep apace with ever advancing technologies and applications. The different agencies continue to strengthen their partnership working with each other and with industry, primarily via ScotlandIS and the Technology Advisory Group. Significant knowledge, expertise and commitment to promoting Scotland's digital economy can be found across these partnerships. It is therefore the conclusion of this review that the cornerstones of the required landscape are in place to support Scotland's transition to a world-leading digital economy.
The key recommendations to improve outcomes and ensure that we deliver our collective ambition for Scotland to be a world-leading digital nation by 2020, can be summarised as follows:
1. Strengthen strategic partnerships: There should be greater strategic co-ordination between our enterprise and business support agencies to promote agile and integrated responses to emerging opportunities and deliver fully integrated and effectively deployed programmes of intervention. This should be ensured by establishing a Digital Excellence Partnership to take forward the recommendations of this review and to create a 'digital buzz' within Scotland. The appointment of a Digital Excellence Champion or co-ordinator would help to spearhead this Partnership.
2. Strengthen the breadth and depth of support offered to Scottish companies of all sizes: A seamless programme of support and advice should be offered that integrates and builds upon the range of current support that is available. This should include the development of a Digital Excellence Programme, a highly intensive and bespoke package of support targeted at growth companies on a one-to-one basis. Serious consideration should also be given to the merits of a 'digital voucher' scheme that might encourage businesses to adopt new digital technologies.
3. Strengthen the capability (supply) sector: The emergence of the Innovation Centres in Scotland will do much to advance the digital economy in Scotland and we should explore the potential for a Big Data Innovation Centre to help realise opportunities in this area.
4. Strengthen our professional ICT skills base: We should agree, publish and implement a skills investment plan in conjunction with key industry partners and stakeholders. As part of this process, Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) should work in collaboration to make recommendations to enhance awareness of, and help our current and future workforce make the most of career opportunities within the digital economy.
5. Strengthen our digital literacy skills: User skills and digital leadership skills are important across the workforce in all sectors of the economy and a broader digital literacy plan would help organisations to realise the potential benefits that can come from digitisation. A Digital Leadership Programme should be developed to target Managing Directors ( MDs) and senior staff within our SME base, whilst Education Scotland, in collaboration with SDS, should examine how digital literacy skills are promoted in our schools, benchmark international practice and make recommendations on how to take this agenda forward. The Digital Participation Charter can play a significant role in ensuring partnership working around this agenda.
6. Strengthen knowledge exchange opportunities: Partners should work together to explore the potential for Digital Excellence & Demonstration Centres. These would be a shared resource between industry partners and the public and academic sectors and would demonstrate the practical application of existing and innovative digital technologies.
7. Strengthen ways of working in the public sector to promote commercial opportunities: The Scottish public sector should build upon its existing commitment to open public data, e procurement and the delivery of digital public services and take these agendas forward in a way that will maximize their positive impact on the digital economy. Specific opportunities could come from opening up government system APIs (Application Programme Interfaces), the development of an agile procurement framework for digital projects and using the public procurement platform to build the capability of Scottish suppliers to interact electronically.