Apply ‘big picture’ vision to Scottish ingenuity - comment

I was recently reminded of the scope and scale of Scotland’s digital technology sector.
Covid has been the catalyst for a unique way of innovating and working, says Bayne. Picture: contributed.Covid has been the catalyst for a unique way of innovating and working, says Bayne. Picture: contributed.
Covid has been the catalyst for a unique way of innovating and working, says Bayne. Picture: contributed.

Scotland is home to nearly 4,000 digital tech companies with around 100,000 people in digital roles. The sector contributes around £7.5 billion to the nation, it is the country’s fourth-largest exporter, and has been growing at a faster rate than the economy as a whole.

I must caveat this by saying that the numbers are pre-Covid, but they are nonetheless impressive and should be highlighted. They are evidence of experience, expertise and success. They illustrate how Scotland has taken its engineering heritage and capacity for invention and steered it into a vibrant contemporary context. They also underscore future potential.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

ScotlandIS, the organisation for the digital technologies industry, is leading the drive to build Scotland as a digital nation. In the post-pandemic landscape, it wants to see the pace of digital transformation across business and society increase. In doing so, we can take advantage of the productivity and efficiency gains across the economy and establish an ethical digital data infrastructure that opens up a world-leading and cost-effective integrated approach to public services.

Read More
Time to start thinking about the ‘never normal’ - comment

It recognises that what is “good for people, the economy, the environment and the government” takes a new kind of collaboration. Scotland has pockets of greatness in sectors including fintech, cyber security, data science and gaming through to talent-development in our universities and tech clustering or incubator initiatives such as CodeBase. But what if we strip away the silos? Join the dots and work in a new boundary- less way?

The UK Government’s VentilatorChallengeUK was a direct response to a global humanitarian health crisis and united key UK industrial, technology and engineering firms from the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors. Accenture was asked to oversee and support the execution of the supply chain.

Managing the ordering process, our teams helped source and stock the right amount of product at the various assembly locations. Rolls-Royce identified more than 100 suppliers, providing the 292 unique parts, and our role was to precisely coordinate the order and shipment of some 3.4 million parts. We were able to monitor the process end-to-end.


Creating and producing an approved product and setting up production facilities on this scale would normally take years. With determination, ingenuity and a common purpose, the consortium helped ensure the NHS always had access to the number of ventilators it needed at the height of the pandemic and now has a resilient stock.

This is perhaps exactly the thinking we should be replicating and amplifying. Covid has been the catalyst for a unique way of innovating and working that in the Ventilator Challenge united suppliers and capabilities as never before. What if we nurtured Scotland’s tech ecosystem in the same way, where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts?

As new technologies begin to transform many areas of the UK economy, this is a moment to double down on our efforts to harness what we have. We have the power to solve problems and create new opportunity, drive job-creation and build economic prosperity. Post-Covid, small and big companies need to survive together.

We need to invest in the digital and technology skills we have; embrace our start-up community and capitalise on our know-how with new purpose and with cohesion. As new funding vehicles to support Scottish business emerge from the pandemic, they too need to be built into a bigger economic picture. I wonder if there is room to stipulate that investment is secured on a commitment to a wider collaborative approach between diverse public and private organisations and to a core or central purpose.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Digital Nation that ScotlandIS advocates is within reach, but let’s make sure that the vision is one that not only builds on Scottish ingenuity but also on its capacity to see and make connections beyond conventional boundaries.

Les Bayne is joint MD, Accenture Scotland

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. Visit now to sign up. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.