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31 March 2016

What 4 things should the next Scottish Government do to get Scotland into the digital fast lane?

Scotland needs to get into the digital fast lane. How could the next Scottish Government help?

1. Infrastructure According to the latest Ofcom report, Scotland has the worstSuperfast Broadband availability in Scotland superfast broadband availability amongst UK nations. The same figures suggest about half of all small businesses can’t get a superfast connection. Further, you still can’t get a data connection across about half of the country’s landmass – which means that your smartphone is a walkie-talkie in much of rural Scotland. The situation is improving, but our connectivity clearly isn’t good enough.

The next Scottish Government must make fixing Scotland’s digital infrastructure a national priority - all businesses should receive a basic level of service of 10Mbps by 2018-19 and they should  set up an innovation fund to improve Scotland’s mobile coverage via the enhanced fibre network.

Digital disruption by industry graph2. Economy Our recent report looked at the potential impact that a host of new technologies could have on Scotland’s economy and the country’s smaller businesses. Research suggests that 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.

We argue that many businesses will shortly have to ‘adapt or die’ – but firms might need help to develop and implement a digital transformation plan.

While the onus is on individual business owners to make sure their operations are fit for the 21st century, Scotland’s enterprise agencies must continue to deliver extra help for smaller firms.

The next Scottish Government must help the smaller businesses tap the potential of digital.   

3. Regulation & Taxation Innovative business models, powered by new technology, will ask big questions Scotland’s regulatory and taxation systems. The next government should consider how innovation can be encouraged while ensuring all businesses in a certain sector compete on an even tax and regulatory playing field. 

4. Government. Digital government offers Scotland an opportunity to dramatically improve how the state interacts with businesses. Instead of seizing the opportunities offered by our relatively small scale, Scotland has made poor progress towards developing great e-services for business.

The next government should revolutionise how the Scottish public sector interacts with business online. It should seize the framework to deliver urgently a single, consistent platform for all transactions and public sector communications, from all agencies and every layer of government.

The next government should introduce a Digital Services Bill. This would place a duty on all public bodies in Scotland to commit to, and co-operate with, the digital government and services agenda.

Find out more about our digital asks of the next Scottish Government in our 2016 Scottish Parliament elections manifesto, Resilient Economies, Resilient Communities



See how FSB have campaigned on this issue