Having spent almost 30 years in the technology industry, Scott Leiper has held many roles throughout his career, from Programmer to Chief Operating Officer and Non-Executive Director.

As COO of Amor Group, Scott Leiper helped build Scotland’s largest independent IT company before selling the business to Lockheed Martin in 2013. As Chairman of Incremental, Scott works with the Board to ensure they deliver on objectives and growth expectations.

As 2020 comes to a close, we caught up with Scott to ask him 10 questions.

1. What are you most proud of from your career?

It is actually pretty recent – I’ve genuinely been bowled over by how Incrementalists have supported each other from an emotional and mental health perspective during the pandemic. Yes, there are corporate initiatives, but the coming together as a community has been uplifting and makes me proud. I tell people about it all the time.

“value the enjoyment in everyone’s day-to-day work, value the fantastic quality of delivery and value satisfied customers”

2. You’ve scaled businesses in relatively short periods of time. How do successful organisations manage the pains experienced during rapid growth?

Value is more important than scale and not just financial value. You need to value the enjoyment in everyone’s day-to-day work, value the fantastic quality of delivery and value satisfied customers. Whenever you grow you have to make sure all of these levers are in balance. I’ll perhaps write a pamphlet on how to do it sometime!

3. What do you think organisations often forget about or underestimate when they’re trying to build a business?

To enjoy themselves.

4. You’ve spent a significant part of your career working with investors, buying and selling businesses. Give us your top 3 M&A tips.

Buy cheap, sell dear, back passion – it’s a bit Gordon Gekko, but it’s still the 1980’s in that world!

5. What traits are most important for business leaders now and in the coming 3 years?

Be reasonable in behaviour, ambitious in expectations, respectful to everyone and grateful. These traits are never time bound.

6. What role does digital technology play in business strategy today?

Many businesses are now IT companies at their core. The head of an airline recently described her business as an IT company with planes. Digital technology and business are one and the same. IT used to be an ancillary department in many businesses (see The IT Crowd from the last 10 years), but now it’s boardroom important. Businesses must create solutions that give their customers more – they can do this with digital technology that enables them to get clearer information faster, automatically identify trends or predict what is going to happen next. Our discipline and innovation must keep stepping up.

7. 2020 has been a tough year for many organisations. What’s your advice on navigating a crisis or uncertainty?

Crisis often leads to opportunity and that’s certainly been the way in the IT sector during the pandemic. These unprecedented times have led to acceleration in technological adoption, even working from home has forced a huge shift in where computing power resides. Multi-year planning goes out the door in these fast moving situations. You have to evaluate, plan and act in short order.

“Crisis often leads to opportunity and that’s certainly been the way in the IT sector during the pandemic.”

8. What do you think will be the main changes to the technology industry post Covid-19?

I think the expectations of what technology specialists can deliver will increase. Not just in terms of innovation, but also in the speed of innovation. We will have to deliver smarter and faster, and then be prepared to throw it away because the shelf-life of solutions will decrease as the pace of business change increases. This was always a trend, but Covid-19 has exacerbated it. If you as a technology provider can’t demonstrate these attributes you’ll quickly fall by the way side.

9. Industry aside, what will stay with us long after Covid-19?

The pandemic has led to a number of unexpected changes: I think there is a greater awareness of our environmental impact as we witnessed the air clearing as we travelled less; drinking over video calls became a proper thing and will remain popular (well maybe just for us middle aged folk who didn’t really like going out anyway); city centres will change as retail and offices become less prevalent and I think we’ll see the return to city centre living and an increase in demand for green spaces in the city; finally, hybrid office/home working will certainly become the norm for traditional office workers.

10. To finish off and most importantly, what is top of your list to Santa this year?

I was 50 earlier this year, so I received lots of lovely things then. I think a water flosser is top of the list for this Christmas (it’ll keep my dentist happy!). I’m a man of simple means!