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RBS Chief Economist discussed Scotland's economy: 10 years on from the financial crisis

20th August 2019

By Scott Thornton

Small businesses need to experiment with the latest technology to confront the challenges posed by a ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ the Chief Economist of the Royal Bank of Scotland has told chamber members.

Speaking at the Mid & East Lothian Chamber networking lunch at the multi award-winning Radhuni restaurant in Loanhead, Sebastian Burnside said new technology including Artificial Intelligence and Digital Assistants  had the capability of transforming the way businesses operate and added: “Enterprises in all sectors have to start experimenting with it or risk being left behind in the fourth industrial revolution. I haven’t come across an industry where AI hasn’t already had an impact.”

Over the next 20 or so years the elderly would form a far greater proportion of the Scottish population, with a growth of almost 80% in the share occupied by people over 65, he went on.  “Businesses will have to make at best a static number of employees more productive and will face greater competition to recruit those with the required skills to help them grow,” he commented. This could be a bigger problem in rural areas than in cities.

Mr Burnside said the massive impact of climate change would create substantial opportunities for businesses which were able to help shape or benefit from switches in consumer behaviour.

Welcoming guests to Radhuni before a lunch prepared by 2018 Scottish Curry Chef of the Year Ashok Ram, Front of House Manager Rajesh Karki said that although the restaurant had become well known throughout Scotland it was particularly proud of its links with its heartland of Midlothian and East Lothian. It regarded itself first and foremost as a community asset.

Last year Radhuni was named Scotland’s Best South Asian Restaurant and was recently named the best restaurant in the Edinburgh area in the Scottish Curry Awards.

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