Why I am backing BIMA and The Drum Network to help progress Scotland's digital sector

BIMA Scotland council

For as long as I've been writing about the media and marketing sector I have often thought about how the progress of the industry where I began - Scotland - could be improved.

We often talk about Scotland as a beautiful place to see (and indeed it has just been voted the most beautiful place on earth) and about its whisky economy - but the truth is, despite being 'the home' of whisky - it's not even the highest maker in the world of the stuff.

Scotland is a country of potential that has a football team that is synonymous with the term 'glorious failure' and I sometimes feel that way about its business sector too. So many brilliant businesses have started, grown and closed there - but how many have truly made a global impact?

I believe now, if ever there was a time, there is a chance to aim for glory - but it needs to be focused and it needs to be backed by government to the hilt. Digital is the oxygen of online dollars, online advertising and online success - so why is are government and public sector not helping private businesses to develop it further?

Today I heard about one business that is worth £2.5m after two years - that's a brilliant success story but on a global scale it's peanuts.

Earlier this year I sat in a packed auditorium in France and listened to the newly elected President talk about his vision for the country to be the new global power in tech and digital. He called on talent to move there from all around the world and help him achieve his dream - imposing a new visa for tech professionals to work there in the process.

Scotland could and can do that. But the Government rarely talks up online - occasionally launching quangos that do nothing but talk a good game and then disappear after a few years. It's lip service and it is going to be the epitome of glorious failure. "We tried something but it didn't work out".

There is potential in Scotland for the digital sector. In Skyscanner and various digital marketing agencies like Equator, Dog Digital, Nile, Whitespace and DigitasLBi's Edinburgh offices demonstrate that there is talent in Scotland. The media companies; BBC, Channel 4 and STV all employ great talent in digital - The Drum I know for a fact does too. There is a future in Scotland - but it needs to be grasped and nurtured. I don't see that happening however - and that is disturbing.

I've been to many cities all around the world and I see prosperity in no small part to their investment in digital. That amazes and frustrates me. Why can't we do this in Scotland I've wondered for years?

Well...now I'm going to try and help do something. When Gerry McCusker mentioned to me his plans to guide BIMA in Scotland, I thought there was a chance to do something and I hope the team and I can make a difference and start something for the future.

The Drum Network is also an opportunity for us to help work with and guide digital businesses - not just in Scotland but right across the U.K.

I've always heard about 'the brain drain' of Scotland - well let's have a go at it and maybe to some extent we can show graduates why there are careers north of the border - and maybe attract some people to work there from elsewhere as well.

We've also talked about how to open up more diversity on the panel and it's crucial that as we speak to a younger, future digital generation that we engage with as many cultures that are growing in number in Scotland as we can. They are the future - not us.

There's lots to come in this respect and I just hope in years to come we can look back between us all and know we somehow helped. With-or-without the help of the public sector - in driving some form of change for the better.

The BIMA Scotland council (see picture above) includes: Gerry McCusker, chief executive at Dog and BIMA Scotland Chair; Nathan Fulwood, strategy director at CreateFuture; Stephen Lepitak, editor at The Drum; Jessica Mullen, managing director at CreateFuture; Claire Scally, joint managing director at TRCmedia; Darcie Tanner, digital director at Stripe Communications; and Alisdair Gunn, director at Framewire.

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Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

All by Stephen