We need to talk about tech

We need to talk about tech

Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technologies industry in Scotland, tells BQ why we need to talk more about tech...

From cyber security to software development and big data, Scotland is a leading player in digital technologies and the industry is growing year-on-year.

With over a thousand businesses in the technology sector and a dynamic and exciting start-up scene, Scotland’s digital technologies industry looks set to continue its rapid growth in the years to come.

On the face of it, this is certainly great news for those already involved in the sector and the new wave of talent currently coming up through education and work based learning. And while the burgeoning number of start-ups is exciting, scaling them from start-up to the sustainable businesses of the future is key to ensuring that Scotland continues to have a thriving digital technologies industry.

Happily, Scotland’s small size and the tech industry’s commitment to community puts us in the fortunate position to be able to learn from the experiences of those who have blazed a global trail.

It’s not just the billion dollar ‘unicorns’ like FanDuel and Skyscanner who can offer valuable international perspective. Glasgow headquartered Smarter Grid Solutions, for example, is at the forefront of smart grid technology, supporting customers across the UK, Europe and North America.

Similarly, Edinburgh based Nucleus Financial is disrupting the personal investment market with its disruptive wrap platform. The only independent, adviser-owned platform in the UK, Nucleus was founded by a group of seven financial advisers who wanted to give clients greater flexibility. Now with over £10bn in assets under management the company is an exceptional example of fintech in action.

On the start-up front, companies like Symphonic and Aquila Insight are working in the area of ‘big data’ enabling organisations to unlock the power of their data through powerful analytics. Growing rapidly both companies address a global market. Aquila’s products enable clients to deliver highly personalised services to multiple customers, bringing together analytics, roadmaps and technology. Symphonic’s software allows their customers to share data and support new data use cases, whilst ensuring they maintain data privacy and compliance.

This Thursday (6 October) the industry has the opportunity to address two big questions – how to internationalise and how to stay agile as you grow – with our expert panel at the ScotSoft Global Forum in Edinburgh. It is a chance to discuss the issues that matter as we consider our future in a digital world and hear voices from Scotland and further afield speak about their experiences in business.

I am anticipating a fascinating and energetic debate and one that looks at these questions from many different viewpoints. I am sure it’s a discussion that will spill out into the coffee breaks and continue at dinner because it really matters.

Some of the questions that are likely to be addressed include: Is venture capital investment the biggest requirement when it comes to both growth and globalisation or is the talent pipeline the single most important factor? How concerned should we be about Scottish business being acquired by overseas enterprises? Do Scottish tech companies really need to be thinking globally from the get-go or is it better to start local and build from a base at home? Do we need to throw off our natural tendency to underplay our abilities and shout about why Scotland is a great base for digital technology companies?

I look forward to hearing the thoughts of our audience and guests alike, as well as the wider community on social media. By understanding these issues and learning from the experiences of companies already tackling these challenges we are much better placed to ensure growth is sustainable and the digital technologies industry will continue to flourish in years to come.