Data ambitions of Scottish tech sector grow, but businesses brace for Covid-19 impact

Scotland’s digital technology sector continued to grow in 2019 with an increase in sales and profit margins, according to the latest annual industry survey from ScotlandIS. 

Despite Covid-19, many firms have identified opportunities for growth over the next nine months. Approximately one third of those surveyed believe business opportunities will rise due to increased or new demands related to Covid-19, particularly in cloud services, digital connectivity, remote working technology, and digital health solutions.  

When asked about their maturity in using data to drive value across the organisation, about a third of respondents reported having identified a need and are taking the first steps towards a data strategy. A third have already defined a strategy and are implementing it. Twentyfour per cent saw themselves as a mature datadriven organisation, up from only 15 per cent in 2019. 

Respondents also wanted to improve their ability to turn data insight into business action, with 55 per cent expressing this as a datarelated need.  

Only one in ten respondents indicated that avoiding insolvency is among their top three challenges, indicating the buoyancy of the industry over the last 10 years has made many businesses resilient to the more brutal economic impacts that the pandemic has brought. 

However, in line with many other industries, the most common challenges companies expect to face for the rest of the year are securing new business, cashflow and income management, and staff health and wellbeing. 

The survey also revealed that demand for the recruitment of university graduates has increased, with 81 per cent reporting that they are definitely or quite likely to recruit graduates in the next 12 months, up from figures around 70 per cent over the last five years. 

The Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2020 was supported by the University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation Initiative - part of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal – and was carried out between December 2019 and January 2020 through an online survey platform and received responses from 200 businesses. To ensure the survey took the latest developments into account, ScotlandIS collected follow-up responses between 1-8 April to gauge the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the sector’s outlook for 2020. 


Ritchie Somerville, Head of Strategy for the Data-Driven Innovation Initiative commented: 

“At this difficult time our thoughts are obviously with those directly affected by Covid19.  When we move out of the lockdown, innovation will be a vital part of how we get the economy working again. This report provides clear signals that Scottish companies, whether start-ups or large enterprises, were moving in a positive direction in their use of data. It also highlights the need to combine talent, adoption, data and enterprise to drive the full value of data, both in companies and for our citizens. This is one of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative’s biggest objectives, so we’ll continue to play our part in promoting investment in innovation across all these aspects to realise Scotland’s full potential, through the Covid19 recovery and beyond.” 


Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of ScotlandIS said:  

“The industry has demonstrated strong growth over the past decade and optimism had risen in 2019 prior to Covid-19. Naturally, the pandemic has impacted the outlook for the rest of the year for many, but there is still clear determination across the sector to adapt and respond to several new challenges.  

“Digital connectivity has never been more important for businesses and individuals across Scotland, and it is heartening to see the support Scotland’s tech sector is offering to try and make sure no person, and no business, is left behind due to a lack of digital resource.” 


Commenting on the findings, Peter Proud, Founder and CEO of Cortex said:   

“The marketplace has changed significantly due to Coronavirus but it’s important to remember that digital does underpin the economy.  I have no doubt that as a company and as a sector, we will come out the other side of this. Rapid digital transformation is taking place not just across Scotland and the UK, but across the globe. 



The full survey is available to view


For all media enquiries, please contact Grayling:                     

Anna McDonald 07808 643 327
James Matheson 07921 352 847 


About the Scottish Technology Industry Survey 

Reliable information about the fast moving digital technologies industry is crucial to identify and respond to the needs of the sector. For nearly 15 years, we have provided this information to our members, Scotland’s private and public sector and policy makers through the ScotlandIS Scottish Technology Industry Survey.   

The strength of the survey is that it’s completed by industry leaders, responses enable us and other organisations to help you grow your business. 


About ScotlandIS 

ScotlandIS is the membership and cluster management organisation for Scotland’s digital technologies industry. We’re at the heart of Scotland’s digital economy, shaping, changing and driving it forward. 

We work with members and partners to support the wider digital transformation of business and society. Digital technologies underpin modern business and is critical to Scotland’s economic success. The digital technologies industry in Scotland employs over 70,000 people, offering a wide range of skills and professional services from niche specialised companies to global players. 

ScotlandIS works closely with Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland to underline the importance of the digital technologies industry to the Scottish economy. 

ScotlandIS has been the driving force behind the development of the ICT and Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan, published by SDS.  This aims to reinforce and improve all aspects of the skills pipeline, from the schools curriculum to workplace skills development.  

  • ScotlandIS members employ about 60,000 people 
  • ScotlandIS members contribute about £4.7bn to Scotland’s GVA 
  • 6,500 people attended ScotlandIS events in 2019 
  • Scotland’s digital tech sector contributes about £7.5bn to Scotland’s GVA 
  • 13,000 digital tech job opportunities are created every year in Scotland, filling all of them would add £1bn to Scotland’s GVA 
  • Scotland has 3,900 digital technologies companies 
  • Scotland’s digital tech sector grows 1.5 times faster than overall economy 
  • We are the 4th strongest export sector in Scotland, exporting more than £3.3bn 
  • 100,000 people work in digital technologies roles across the Scottish economy 
  • Average annual salary of digital tech workers: £36,900 = 26% higher than average salary of all workers in Scotland / twitter: ScotlandIS

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