THE first Chief Digital Officer for Scotland should provide expert leadership across the Scottish Government and the public and private sectors on how digital transformation can meet the country’s key economic challenge of increasing productivity, according to a new report.

All sectors, including the Scottish Government, should focus on using on using Scotland’s digital infrastructure to improve economic growth and public services, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), ScotlandIS, The Royal Society of Edinburgh and BT Scotland claim.

The organisations’ joint report, Digital Solutions To The Productivity Puzzle, calls for similar senior appointments across the public and private sectors to provide stronger digital leadership.

The report also makes recommendations on business transformation, data, skills and infrastructure and joint work to drive up digital adoption, usage, benefits and skills across the Scottish business base.

Availability of Next Generation Broadband in Scotland has increased since 2011, from 41 per cent of premises to 85 per cent in 2015. Around 95 per cent of premises across Scotland will be able to access fibre broadband by the end of March 2018.

The research identified that developments in Information and Communications Technology have been a key driver of productivity, but that the impact in the UK has fallen behind the US and other European countries. It has been estimated that if Scotland became a digital world leader GDP would increase £13bn by 2030, compared to £4bn with only incremental improvements.

The report highlights evidence that countries where digital is contributing most to productivity growth combine ICT investment with new management structures and high skill levels, and that organisational redesigns will be required for Scotland to catch-up and realise the full potential from digital investments.

Mark Dames, of the SCDI’s Digital and Productivity Forum, said:

“We are now at a critical point in the development of Scotland as a digital nation. The success of exploiting digital technologies will be a decisive factor in whether Scotland achieves its economic growth objectives.”