3 Adaptation and transformation
Support for the actions outlined in this theme is evident. Prioritisation scoring analysis indicates efforts directed at enabling companies to implement capital modernisation (AT4) and to build on and develop new clusters (AT5) are strongly supported. Support for action AT3 on cyber security essentials was not as effusive but remained positive and, with recent surveys indicating very low levels of cyber essentials accreditation, we remain keen to consider options to ensure greater resilience as digital adoption escalates.
Once again there was considerable depth and detail in consultation responses requiring further consideration. Many responses embraced the intent behind the actions and included strong commentary on the potential impact of each and how to achieve the best results. Key discussion points are set out below.
Digital Adoption and Connectivity - Respondents were generally keen to see increased investment in digital transformation and to stimulate digital adoption, though some requested more clarity on the basis for the proposed actions. The use of related case studies was suggested. Continued investment in digital infrastructure and broadband provision, especially in rural areas, was highlighted as key for Scottish business growth and to accommodate better digital connectivity. The scope to make more effective use of digital connectivity and e-commerce platforms was also mentioned as an opportunity to support business recovery.
Funding – A number of respondents were keen to build on the approaches set out with the scope to design support mechanisms in a way that continues to educate as many businesses as possible on the benefits of investment in digital technologies, potentially providing financial support for implementation. Pragmatism to ensure SME take up is needed. Recent oversubscription of digital funding was noted as important context for planning future support. There were also suggestions that public sector support be designed to prioritise those active in net zero planning and circular economy transition and thus incentivise it, possibly through supporting asset monitoring and maintenance and increasing lifespan.
Cyber Security – Although respondents were supportive of the need for greater resilience training in areas such as cyber security, there was some concern from a number of correspondents about Action AT3 and associated costs of cyber essentials accreditation perhaps being significant or prohibitive for SMEs. The potential for public funding support was noted. Respondents are keen that this be encouraged and enabled with training, with related options that minimise any additional cost burden to businesses considered.
Clustering – Respondents were very supportive of clustering suggestions with many keen to participate in such initiatives, whilst noting outcomes may take some time. The importance of academia involvement was highlighted, particularly to help effective or innovative activity tied to net zero initiatives. A number of respondents noted they were involved in clustering activity through this type of action or promotion, indicating the strong and varied base of activity within Scotland, and noting the scope to support further efforts within and across sectors. Recent efforts to respond to the PPE needs of the NHS during the pandemic provided a model for replication. The scope to make best use of digital connectivity, which has accelerated during the pandemic, should also be considered in the clustering context.