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Digital Tech Awards 2018: The Judges View

Brian Baglow

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Cyber Scotland Week

The 2018 Digital Tech Awards take place at a glittering ceremony in central Glasgow tonight. DIGIT spoke to Martin Mutch, the chair of the judging panel and long-time supporter of the awards to find out what’s changed over the last eight years and how Scotland’s technology sector is evolving.

Martin Mutch is a well-known figure in Scotland’s digital technology community. A founder, entrepreneur, business leader, advisor and photography enthusiast, he’s worked with some of the country’s leading businesses and events. Martin has chaired the judging panel for the Digital Tech Awards for the last several years and from that position has seen the sector grow and evolve.

DIGIT spoke to Martin to find out more about the country’s changing focus when it comes to digital technology.

DIGIT: Many thanks for speaking to us, Martin. You’ve been part of the digital tech awards for a number of years now. What keeps you coming back?

Martin Mutch: “My own start-up business, Rocela Ltd, was a winner in an innovation category a few years ago. We went on to grow that business successfully and it was acquired in a trade deal in 2014. I was flattered to be invited to be a judge then and for the last two years I have had the privilege of being Chairman of the judging panel.”

DIGIT: Have you seen any change in the nature of the entries for the awards since you joined the judging panel?

Martin: “Yes, both the volume of entries has risen steadily, while the quality has risen dramatically during my experience over the last few years.”

DIGIT: Speaking as a judge, what sort of trends are you starting to see emerge from the entries coming in? Are there new types of business starting to appear?

Judging Begins at the Digital Tech Awards 2018Martin: “There are several noteworthy themes we’ve noticed starting to emerge:

  • Convergence of different technologies, say social media into customer service, or mobile platforms in self-service order entry and configuration.
  • Data. As data proliferates with the Internet of Things, we are seeing the emergence of data scientists that can create useful intelligence and business benefit from the noise. Datalab for example is acting as a beacon for exploiting the potential of data.
  • Niche personalisation and specialisation. We have seen innovation plays that have become mass market norms. We now see industry and market specific variants of these technologies that are proving very successful, in CRM and hosting for example. We have also seen the emergence of exciting players that focus on very tight but lucrative niche markets through differentiation and specialism.
  • Fight for talent. There are a lot of skilled people grown in Scotland and attracted to work here, but the demand from the market is huge and growing very quickly. To succeed a business needs a good idea and smart execution strategies, but also the need to attract, develop and retain the very best skills and minds is of equal importance.”

 

DIGIT: What excites you most about the changes and evolution that you’re seeing in the market?

Digital Tech Award FinalistsMartin: “Everything! Its great to see the tech landscape come of age over the past few years and this has been accelerated by some of the bigger successes such as Skyscanner with the experience and money now cropping up across a significant tranche of the early stage digital space.

“We now have a pretty robust supply chain and ecosystem for the sector. We have a proliferation of 2nd and 3rd time round entrepreneurs that act as mentors and inspiration to the next generations. Money to invest in the sector is “ relatively” more abundant, as is the potential to get 2nd and 3rd round funding, even “ A“ rounds, through the indigenous syndicates of smart money and investment firms.

“Scottish Investment Bank and the likes of DataLab and ScotlandIS itself really help the development, support, guidance and promotion of some of the great and creative digital ideas that are emerging from the universities, from within the digital industry and from other more traditional industries.”

DIGIT: Martin, thank you. One final question. Any hot tips for future awards? What should we be looking out for in 2019?

Martin: I’d like to see recognition for those businesses that excel in attracting, developing and retaining the best talent into their teams. This was once the domain of HR depts but now the winners use everyone and every function across the business to find, catch and nurture the best people to achieve growth.

Digital Tech Awards 2018

The eighth annual Digital Tech Awards, created by ScotlandIS, take place at the Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow tonight, April 26 2018. The full list of finalists can be found here.

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Brian Baglow

Editor

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