Data is increasingly becoming the world's new natural resource and effective connectivity is now a critical-success factor for every business.

Data is increasingly becoming the world's new natural resource and effective connectivity is now a critical-success factor for every business.

Loading article content

How we cope with the continuous flow of innovation, manage increasingly demanding consumers and evolving business models provides exciting possibilities for both new business start-ups and more mature businesses.

Developments in technology and connectivity are having a significant impact, particularly on SMEs, and will continue to provide significant opportunities for those who have the ambition and attitude to harness the new future.

Access to markets that once felt too expensive and complex to explore are now only a few clicks away. The ability to develop new customer relationships across far-reaching supply chains is now a reality.

The opportunities and challenges offered by digital links do however require careful analysis on business impact and should be embedded in every company's business strategy and business plan.

It's not about gadgets for gadgets' sake but about leveraging improved connectivity and access to data to deliver increased value and success.

Strong relationships are the foundation of any successful business. New technologies and applications offer a catalyst to reignite past relationships as well as reaching out to the next customer.

As the pace of change in technology and data accelerates, we must ensure that key enablers are fit for purpose. We must see continuous improvement in mobile and fixed-line connectivity services as it can sometimes take too long to set up connections.

SMEs, in particular, are negatively impacted by such complex and slow service levels, where valuable management time is spent solving issues and delays.

While the investment from the major providers is applauded, we need to see this continue. Simpler, smarter and time efficient solutions are a constant plea, as we continue to strive for further investment in digital infrastructure.

Alignment of future skills and training to ensure we make the most of the digital opportunity is well documented and our education systems have accelerated plans to provide the right talent for the future.

Training and development

of the current workforce is equally key to ensuring productivity levels increase and awareness of new opportunities is optimised.

It is no coincidence that the most popular training programmes at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce are in social media. It is now essential that all organisations are working together with one vision and aligned strategies.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has recently established a new 'Inspiring Digital' membership group with the aim of bringing together businesses representing connectivity, data, people and devices. The digital revolution is impacting every area of our lives. The opportunities for business are far-reaching and offer all of us an exciting future.

- David Birrell is chief executive at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce