SCOTLAND’S tech sector has weathered a difficult year and remains optimistic about the year ahead, according to the latest annual survey launched today by ScotlandIS.
The survey, the annual barometer for the tech sector, shows that Scotland’s tech sector remained resilient with almost half of survey participants increasing their sales and profit margins, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty following Brexit. Optimism about the year ahead remains very high, with some 77% of respondents saying they are very optimistic about the next 12 months.
Companies reported that the greatest opportunities for their business over the next 18 months were likely to be in data analytics (51%), artificial intelligence, machine learning (47%) and Internet of Things (27%).
ScotlandIS has also announced the launch of its 2021 Manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections. It offers a series of recommendations for stakeholders across Scotland to embrace digital transformation, to upskill the nation’s workforce and citizens.
The Manifesto highlights the immense potential for Scotland’s emerging tech scene to become a pillar of our digital economy. three key areas where ScotlandIS sees enormous growth for Scotland in the next 12 months: Climate Tech, Gov Tech and Space Tech.
Karen Meechan, Interim CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “Scotland’s digital and tech sector has shown its mettle this year, with resilience across the board. This has been a difficult year as companies have had to adapt quickly to the pressures brought by the pandemic and the uncertainty of Brexit. Yet, while it has been a difficult year, growth within the sector is high and we can look ahead optimistically.
“Collaboration has been a real strength within the sector, helping smaller businesses and creating new relationships across all aspects of society. As a sector we will continue to grow through collaboration and can look forward to a year of strong growth to come.”
International opportunities are at the forefront of much of the sector’s growth plans, with 60% reporting that this is something they already undertake and much of the remainder have plans to do so. New markets, such as Australia and New Zealand, are coming to the fore as businesses adjust to Brexit.
While 2020 proved to be a difficult year for smaller businesses, it’s been a mixed picture for larger enterprises. Some 44% reported a decrease in sales (compared to 17% 2019) but 30% of businesses did manage to increase sales and 83% of medium-sized businesses expect their sales to increase over the next 12 months.
Employment in the sector also remains robust. Two thirds of small businesses expect to increase staff numbers, only down slightly compared to last year. While smaller businesses have shown an increasing demand for more senior, skilled talent, 36% reported that they are likely to employ someone who underwent retraining in the next 12 months. Sales and marketing, however, remains the most in demand skills set within the sector.
Discussing the launch of the ScotlandIS 2021 Manifesto, Meechan added: “ScotlandIS sees Climate Tech, GovTech and Space Tech as being the three areas whereby Scotland has enormous opportunity. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to build back better, to reshape our society, to deliver highly skilled and fulfilling jobs and to drive efficiencies and productivity gains in our public services and established businesses.