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Digital Economy Business Survey 2021: findings

Summary of findings from the Digital Economy Business Survey (DEBS) 2021. This publication includes the high level DEBS report, accompanying data tables and the Digital Economy Maturity Index 2021.

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Productivity and Innovation

Quality broadband and mobile infrastructure is of increasing and central importance to Scotland’s economy, enhancing productivity and driving innovation in Scotland’s businesses, especially in its more remote and rural areas.

Digital technology is already a source of incredible opportunity and potential for businesses– to open new markets, work in new ways, personalise services, innovate and scale rapidly, tackle climate change and make links across the globe. It shapes the way in which we meet national priorities such as economic recovery, climate change, decarbonisation, wellbeing and social renewal.

This section of the report sets out digital technology’s impact on Scottish businesses’ productivity and innovation, as well as its contribution to tackling climate change.

Figure 5: Ways digital technology has impacted business productivity, innovation and low carbon working (%)
A bar chart is shown listing the ways digital technology has impacted business productivity, innovation and low carbon working. 59% of businesses stated that digital technology has helped make their processes more efficient. 48% stated in increased their skills, 41% enhanced competitive position, 34% supported a shift to low carbon working, 33% helped invest in the business in new or different ways, 16% helped expand into new or different international markets. 2% did not know the impact, 1% reported another option not listed and 22% reported no impact. 75% of businesses reported any impact to business productivity, innovation and/or low carbon working.

Base: All businesses (min = 3,346)

Multiple responses allowed

Impact of digital technologies (see figure 5)

  • Three quarters (75 per cent) of businesses reported that digital technologies had positively impacted their productivity, innovation and/or low carbon working. The greatest impact experienced by businesses was that digital technologies helped make their processes more efficient (59 per cent of businesses).
  • A third (34 per cent) of businesses reported that digital technology has supported a shift to low carbon working. Businesses in the business activities (48 per cent) and health/ social work (40 per cent) sectors were more likely than average to report that it has helped a shift to low carbon working.
  • 31 per cent of businesses stated that digital technology had a significant impact on productivity over the last 12 months. 23 per cent saw a moderate impact on business productivity while 17 per cent had a slight impact and 26 per cent had no impact at all.
  • A third (33 per cent) of businesses reported that digital technology had impacted innovation by helping the business create new or significantly improved products or services.
  • 45 per cent of businesses increased the proportion of investment on digital technologies over the past two years. Half (50 per cent) reported that investment in digital technologies remained unchanged. Only two per cent had decreased investment.

Environmental impact

  • A quarter (25 per cent) of businesses were committed to reducing their environmental impact (i.e. scored 9 or 10 on scale of 10)[4]. Only five per cent were not committed to reducing their environmental impact (i.e. scored 1 or 2 on scale of 10).
  • Businesses that utilise Artificial Intelligence (37 per cent scored 9 or 10), Business Management Software (32 per cent) and Data Analytics (31 per cent) were more likely to be committed to reducing their environmental impact.
  • There is a positive relationship between a business’s commitment to reducing their environmental impact and the number of technologies adopted by the business.

Contact

Email: Sean.Murchie@gov.scot

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