Our ‘Digital Disruption’ report for the Federation of Small Business in Scotland was launched last Thursday at an event hosted by the University of Edinburgh Business School.
The Foreword to the report is reprinted below.
Few would dispute that we live and work in an era of rapid technological change. The digital and social media revolutions are already disrupting a wide range of industries, threatening to transform existing ways of doing things and existing business models. The changes witnessed since the advent of the Internet twenty years ago are nothing compared to what is coming over the next few years.
Our small businesses need to ‘adapt or die’. They need to embed digital capabilities into the core of their business. The days of treating digital as a peripheral add-on are over. Many organisations have become, or are in the process of becoming, digital dinosaurs due to their inability to adapt. A recent report suggests that four out of ten industry incumbents, across a broad spectrum of sectors, will be displaced by digital disruption over the next five years.
No industry, no company in Scotland should consider itself immune from the threat of digital disruption. This raises complex issues for Scottish SMEs, for public policy makers and the business support network.
Developing an appropriate response to digital change is the number one medium term challenge facing Scottish business today. As a matter of urgency, we need to support the small business community in transforming digitally; in overcoming the barriers and obstacles they face in developing and implementing effective digital strategies.
This will require appropriate responses from public policy makers in a broad range of areas including training and skills development; regulation and licensing; taxation; digital government and, of course, digital infrastructure. The business support network too has a critical role to play; ensuring that the level and type of support available to small businesses is fit for purpose in an era characterised by turbulent digital change and digital disruption.
As a basis for stimulating further discussion and debate on these issues, I am pleased to launch this report.
As Scotland’s leading direct membership business organisation, FSB is in a strong position to support the small business sector, policy makers and public sector support agencies in ensuring that Scotland’s small businesses utilise the full potential of digital technologies for achieving sustained business growth and competitiveness.
I hope that the report makes a valuable contribution to stimulating further research and discussion in this area. I believe it to be the first report focusing on the opportunities and threats presented by digital disruption to the Scottish economy and Scottish companies.
Dr Jim Hamill
You can download a copy of the full report here.
As usual, all comments and feedback welcome.