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Atos sets out vision for a digital Scotland

Scotland has the potential to create a competitive advantage in the global economy through digital technologies, and could even become a cloud datacentre hub, according to Atos

IT services company Atos has published its digital vision for Scotland, highlighting how Scottish businesses and government are taking advantage of digital technologies, and the country’s future potential. 

The Atos vision said that digital technologies are already having a big impact on Scotland, with uptake of digital devices happening at a faster pace than anywhere else in the UK.

It also highlighted Scottish Government’s digital strategy, which was published in March 2017, and set out its plans to boost technology jobs, invest in skills, provide universal access to superfast broadband and improve infrastructure.

As part of its strategy, Scotland aims to have 150,000 digital technology roles by 2023, and last year, the digital sector contributed £10.3bn to the Scottish economy.

The Atos paper said the current “era of digital change” brings opportunities to “enhance citizens’ lives and enable organisations to deliver their key priorities”.

“There is now great potential for Scotland to create a competitive advantage in today’s global economy,” it said.

A cloud competitor

Scotland is home to many small businesses, with 98% of private companies having less than 50 employees, and it’s important that they are not left behind.

Moving to the cloud could “help level the digital playing-field” and enable entrepreneurs to “punch above their weight”, the paper said.

It called on all Scottish businesses, regardless of size, to be ready to embrace digital technologies, and that the challenges of migrating to the cloud and managing both legacy and cloud, must be overcome “so Scotland can reach its cloud-enabled potential”.  

Atos suggests that Scotland could become its “own centre for cloud services”. With low average temperatures throughout the year and plenty of renewable energy sources Scotland could be “an ideal location for powering and cooling highly efficient cloud datacentres”, the paper said.  

“The prospect of Scotland establishing itself as a leader in cloud service provision and consumption must surely be more than Scotch mist,” it added.

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Scotland is also doing a big piece of work on connectivity, aiming for 95% of properties to have access to fibre broadband by 2021, as well as improving mobile networks across the country

However, in order to become a contender in the global leadership race for digital, Scotland must deliver in a number of areas, including digital policing, a digital NHS and internet of things (IoT) in utilities, digital skills and business support.  

“The last major restructuring of policing in Scotland, in 1975, came at a time when there were only a couple of national ICT systems and only embryonic use of ICT across forces,” the Atos paper said, adding that Police Scotland’s latest strategy highlights the potential benefits of digital transformation.

“By deploying more responsive, capable and real-time technology, a plethora of benefits become available. Digital transformation of policing will enable intelligence to be extracted and delivered to whoever needs it via mobile technologies,” the Atos paper said.

Dealing with the skills gap

Scottish government is already addressing the skills gap through a number of publicly funded or sponsored programmes. However, Atos urged Scotland to go further and “think outside the box” in order to benefit those who still don’t have basic communications infrastructure in place where they live without having to dig up roads to lay fibre cables.  

“There are faster, more economic, more resilient options to underpin the communications infrastructure and digital journey for the rurally isolated in Scotland,” the paper said.

It also highlighted the need for “everyone” to become a digital native, or a migrant- going further than simply being able to use a mobile phone.

“They also need to be able to spot digital scams and fraud, manage the security of their personal data and use critical thinking to understand how digital services may be programmed to manipulate their behaviour,” the Atos digital vision said. 

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