Sally Dyson, SCVO Head of Digital Participation

Written by Alan Robertson on 4 February 2016 in Feature

Connect is running through our Tech 100, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Sally Dyson (@sallyld)

Job Title/Organisation: Head of Digital Participation, SCVO

What does your role involve?

Helping people develop basic digital skills and get online. Also, helping organisations in the third sector understand the real benefits that using digital technologies can bring. This can range from new systems to help back-office function more effectively right through to a tweak or transformation of service delivery. What’s really important is how user needs are put at the heart of services.

Finally, talking to as many people as possible in all sectors to help them understand how they can individually and collectively contribute to the two previous actions. Scotland's Digital Participation Charter, which SCVO are custodians of, is key to pulling all this together.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

Getting the approximate 800,000 adults in Scotland who are not online supported to develop basic digital skills and use the internet. This would be a challenge if digital technology was developing at a walking pace; however, with the cheetah-like speed of change this gives the added extra incentive every morning.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

Co-creating the recent #OneDigital programme across the UK. It’s a truly inspirational partnership between Digital Unite, Affinity Sutton, Abilitynet, Citizens Online and Age UK. In Scotland we’re focusing on how Digital Champions in third sector organisations can develop their own skills, those of the people they support and make changes to how their organisations use digital.

The other exciting bit for me is this also gives us the opportunity to work really closely with some amazing CEOs and trustees who want to get to grips with how digital can make a difference. To me, that’s win, win, win.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

We need a two-pronged approach. Firstly upfront investment. Through all types of evidence-based research we’re getting a much better handle on what works. There now needs to be greater investment in these approaches. Secondly, we need everyone who is already online to get engaged and help out. The Digital First agenda is so strong it’s not okay for anyone to be left behind.

Which new technology excites you the most?

For my work, it has to be low cost smartphones and tablets. Many of the people who are not online don’t really have spare cash, so as well as increasing skills and motivation we have to drive down the cost of access. It’s not the entire solution but it’s a big part.

What's your favourite app and why?

Can I have two? My Geocaching app – I’m quite outdoorsy and love the added childhood excitement of a treasure hunt! And Shazam – I love music and can’t stand not being able to identify a track.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

It will actually be people power. Everything tells us that what’s key in developing basic digital skills and bringing people on line is a personal ‘hook’ and a ‘trusted’ individual. We all know that word of mouth is the best recommendation.

So what we aim to do is mobilise anyone who has an interest in this agenda to make a personal or organisational contribution to creating a more digitally participative Scotland. 

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