Logan must take a wide view on IT skills – Daily Business Magazine

Bill Magee

TECHNICAL TALK

Narrated by Scott McGlinchey from Exception BILL MAGEE that the chief contractor must not repeat past mistakes


Scotland’s annual digital audit shows that if there is one area where the global pandemic period has proved a positive catalyst it has been the acceleration of technological change by businesses and other organisations. Digitization is happening at an unprecedented rate of change, leading to far greater demand for the development of technical skills across the enterprise.

Unfortunately, it comes at a time of systemic skill shortages, both locally and globally. The Gatsby Foundation is an organization that warns that four out of five companies are facing hiring problems – and help is needed.

Scott McGlinchey, Managing Director of Exception, a 20-year-old company recently named one of Scotland’s 40 Most Innovative Cloud Computing Companies, says it is good news that former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan has taken up the newly created post of Chief Entrepreneurs accepted.

“A long overdue appointment,” he says, seeing it as crucial to Scotland’s goals and ambitions to successfully develop a digital ecosystem with a global reach.

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However, he says: “The gradual failure of some government agencies and educational institutions to address technology literacy is certainly evident now.

“It’s been talked about for decades, but with little improvement. Mainly because the results are never measured or the return on investment from successive governments and funded quangos and agencies.”

A key question needs to be asked: do the recent government announcements mean we may miss the focus on experience by targeting young entrepreneurs?

Certainly a focus on pedagogical awareness with top quality teaching is required, as are entrepreneurs. But Mr McGlinchey says: “You need businesses big and small to support employment and create jobs for those who don’t want to start businesses, who want to make a career but don’t want to take entrepreneurial risk.

“The greatest enabler for a thriving economy over the next decade is here. It’s our local businesses – combined with entrepreneurship and excellent education, of course.”

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The appointment as chief entrepreneur took a long time: I remember writing The Sunday Times a quarter of a century ago, how major tech companies, led by Microsoft, were urging Scotland to urgently appoint a ‘digital tsar’. Better late than never, I think.

Amidst the rapid changes in the market, there is now a fourfold digital plan that any ambitious company, regardless of industry, can and should tackle:

guide – Social, mobile, analytics, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer innovative business opportunities. But to take advantage of these technologies, companies need to rethink their business.

This requires executive buy-in and top-down management efforts to create the vision and roadmap and drive the associated operational changes. Leadership, not technology, drives transformation.

Capability – Many organizations have yet to find the most effective way to organize and qualify their IT department for the digital age. Often they do not have the required in-house skills and developing them in-house can take many years.

Additionally, while most organizations have development and service management methodologies in place, these were likely designed for traditional requirements-driven initiatives.

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IT architecture – Organizations need to assess the impact that newly developed digital services and products are having on their current infrastructure. Like all changes, the digital transformation also has its price.

The IT infrastructure and operating model required to support such technologies requires extensive planning and must allow for rapid integration of NED technologies to support your goals.

leadership – Who owns the digital strategy? Who is leading the transformation and are there agreed guidelines that underpin the design, development, and development of the deployment?

In addition to an integrated strategic vision and roadmap, it is important that supportive decision making and governance are put in place to ensure competing ideas and implementations do not undermine overall business goals.

This is an edited version of an article that appears in the latest edition of Direction, IOD’s Scottish magazine