Scotland’s digital technology sector sees opportunities for growth during pandemic

Scotland’s digital technology sector continued to grow in 2019 with an increase in sales and profit margins, according to the latest annual industry survey conducted by ScotlandIS.

Scotland's digital technology sector sees opportunities for growth during pandemic

Despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, many firms have identified opportunities for growth over the next nine months.

Approximately one-third of those surveyed believe business opportunities will rise due to increased or new demands related to COVID-19, particularly in cloud services, digital connectivity, remote working technology, and digital health solutions.

Only one in ten respondents indicated that avoiding insolvency is among their top three challenges, indicating the buoyancy of the industry over the last 10 years has made many businesses resilient to the more brutal economic impacts that the pandemic has brought.

However, in line with many other industries, the most common challenges companies expect to face for the rest of the year are securing new business, cash flow and income management, and staff health and wellbeing.

In another indication of business optimism, 71% of respondents expect their employee number to stay the same or to increase their headcount by the end of 2020, with 27% forecasting an increase in headcount. In December and January that increase was expected to be substantially higher at 80%.

Around one-third of respondents have already furloughed staff following the COVID-19 outbreak, with 30% planning to do so in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, 29% have already hired new people or are planning that in the near future, and only 8% have already or are planning to make staff redundant.

The survey also revealed that demand for the recruitment of university graduates has increased, with 81% of responding businesses reporting that they are definitely or quite likely to recruit graduates in the next 12 months, up from figures around 70% over the last five years.

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “The industry has demonstrated strong growth over the past decade and optimism had risen in 2019 prior to Covid-19. Naturally, the pandemic has impacted the outlook for the rest of the year for many, but there is still clear determination across the sector to adapt and respond to several new challenges.

“Digital connectivity has never been more important for businesses and individuals across Scotland, and it is heartening to see the support Scotland’s tech sector is offering to try and make sure no person, and no business, is left behind due to a lack of digital resource.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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