42% of Scotland’s younger generation of business leaders see innovation and digital investment as their number one priority for the next 12 months, according to new research.
In a survey of 250 senior leaders in Scottish organisations with more than 500 employees, commissioned by Infinity Works, it is the younger Scots (aged 25-44 years of age) who are showing the most ambitious outlook when it comes to post Covid-19 growth and investment by putting digital transformation at the heart of decision making and growth.
While 73% of all respondents acknowledged the pandemic has forced them to accelerate digital transformation initiatives to stay competitive in the challenging economic climate, it is the younger generations that are looking to build on this and invest more into digital projects with a much wider reach within their business.
The younger cohort of respondents are already fully utilising digital technologies to help drive their businesses forward and the research highlighted some of the biggest chasms between the generations in pre-existing tech usage: data and analytics (65% vs. 25%); cloud-based services (58% vs. 36%); and the internet of things (IoT) (59% vs. 38%).
In addition, the span of investment is stronger within the younger leaders. One in three (29%) in the 25-44 year-old bracket are keen to invest across a full range of digital transformation activities, compared to one in five (20%) of their 45+ counterparts. Key technologies to be pursued include IoT, data science, cloud, and process automation.
Technologies such as blockchain – while making headlines – remain unchartered territory and very much split opinion on the role they will play for businesses in Scotland.
It was the younger generations that also had a more holistic view of the role digital will play across all areas of their organisation. While older generations tend to focus on Operations, Product, and Marketing & Sales, the younger generations showed equal appreciation for transformational investment in areas including Finance and HR.
Of the younger generation, a third cited internal resistance to change (34%), and one in four lack of leadership and vision (26%), as threats to their digital transformation efforts in the next 12 months.
Ed Marshall, Tech Director at Infinity Works, part of Accenture following its acquisition earlier this year, said:
“Pioneering young business leaders in Scotland are putting customers at the heart of everything they do while also investing in digital technologies that will help support post-Covid-19 growth.
“The success of digital transformation initiatives won’t solely be dependent on technology, however, they require an equal focus on business processes and having people who can adapt to changing market conditions.
“Data, as an example, is crucial to helping organisations make better strategic decisions, but the findings highlighted a third of organisations in Scotland lack the skills to make use of their data. Businesses, education institutions, and the government must continue working together to drive efforts to plug the digital skills gap and help achieve the ambition of Edinburgh becoming the Data Capital of Europe.”