Scott McGlinchey of Exception tells BILL MAGEE that the chief entrepreneur must not repeat mistakes of the past
Scotland’s annual digital audit indicates that if there is one area in which the period of the global pandemic proved a positive catalyst, it was in accelerating the technological transformation of businesses and other organisations. Digitalisation is happening at an unprecedented rate of change and leading to a far greater demand for the development of tech capability throughout a business.
Unfortunately, it comes at a time of systemic skills shortages at both local and global levels. The Gatsby Foundation is one organisation warning that four-out-of-five businesses face recruitment issues – and help is needed.
Scott McGlinchey, chief executive of Exception, a 20-year-old firm recently ranked within the Top 40 Most Innovative Cloud Computing Companies in Scotland, sees it as good news that former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan accepted the newly-created post of chief entrepreneur.
“An appointment long overdue,” he says, regarding it as pivotal in leading Scotland’s aims and ambitions to successfully develop a digital ecosystem capable of global reach.
However, he says: “The successive failure of some government agencies and educational establishments to deal with technology skills is certainly now apparent.
“It’s been talked about for decades but with little improvement. Mainly because outcomes are never measured nor return-on-investments by successive governments and funded quangos and agencies.”
A key question needs to be asked: do recent government announcements mean we may be missing a focus on experience by targeting early-stage entrepreneurs?
Certainly, focus on educational awareness with first-class teaching is needed, as are entrepreneurs. But Mr McGlinchey says: “You need enterprises, small and large, to support employment and provide jobs for those who don’t start companies, who want a career, but not entrepreneurial risk.
“The biggest enabler to a flourishing economy over the next ten years exists now. It’s our indigenous companies – combined with entrepreneurship and great education, of course.”
The chief entrepreneurial appointment has been a long time in the making: I recall writing in The Sunday Times a quarter of a century ago how big tech companies, led by Microsoft, called then for Scotland to appoint a ‘digital tsar’ as a matter of urgency. Better late than not at all, I suppose.
In the meantime, amid rapid changes in the market, herewith is a four-fold digital plan that any ambitious company, irrespective of sector, can and should take on board:
Leadership – social, mobile, analytics, Cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer innovative business opportunities. But in order to realise benefits from these technologies, organisations need to re-imagine their business.
This requires executive buy-in and management effort from the top down to create the vision and roadmap and drive through the associated operational changes. Leadership, not technology, drives transformation.
Capability – many organisations have yet to determine the most effective way to organise and skill-up their IT department for the digital age. Often they don’t have the requisite in-house skills and developing these internally can take many years.
Additionally, while most organisations have development and service management methodologies in place, these are likely to have been designed for traditional requirements-led initiatives.
IT architecture – organisations will need to assess the impact that newly developed digital services and products have on their current infrastructure. Like all change, digital transformation comes with a price tag.
The IT infrastructure and operating model necessary to support such technologies requires significant planning and must allow for the rapid integration of NED technologies to support your objectives.
Governance – who owns the digital strategy? Who is leading the transformation and are there agreed policies that underpin design, development and developing delivery?
As well as having an integrated strategic vision and roadmap, it is essential that supportive decision-making and governance is put in place to ensure that competing ideas and implementations do not undermine the overall business objectives.
This is an edited version of an article which appears in the latest edition of the IOD Scotland magazine, Direction