Digital technology holds the key to growth for rural businesses

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By Austen Clark, managing director of Clark Integrated Technologies 

Scotland’s rural economy is vibrant and varied, and while farming, forestry and tourism may be the sectors most synonymous with a countryside location, there’s everything in between.

Food producers, professional services, engineering firms and oil and gas service industries all operate in rural locations.

Clark IT has evolved and grown from its rural base at Auchterless near Turriff in the fast paced and dynamic tech sector. So, we know better than most some of the perceived challenges there can be to operating outside an urban centre – and how the power of digital can overcome them.

Multi-location working

Nowadays the office is not the only one place where people work – staff are on the move, at other sites, and travelling, both at home and overseas.  They need to keep connected.

This is where Office 365 comes into its own, with Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS and Android, over and above PC versions. Using OneDrive for Business, staff can securely access, save and share files in the cloud using their device of choice including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. All the features of Office 365 work together, so no need for multiple passwords. Office 365 is packed with power, storage, sharing and other functionalities that keep businesses moving faster and more smartly.


In today’s ever changing business environment slow internet speeds are a no-no. Business depends on effective communication and connectivity can be an issue.

The Scottish Government’s digital strategy sets out a vision for a Scotland that has high quality digital connectivity across the country, particularly in rural communities. It acknowledges that building future-proofed infrastructure has to start now in order to underpin future economic growth and transform the economic prospects of rural areas.

It has pledged that every business and home will have access to superfast broadband of 30 mbps per second, it’s so-called R100 commitment.

In the meantime, the Better Broadband Scheme offers an interim solution for premises experiencing slow speeds and that are not part of the current Digital Scotland programme roll-out:


Lightning can cause power outages, floodwater can destroy systems and networks, snow and frost can result in roofs caving in and causing irrevocable damage.

A major fire, or severe structural damage could make your premises out of bounds.

While you can’t prevent these situations, you can protect against them. It’s common sense that you should guard your IT systems in the event that they are rendered powerless. Clark IT has disaster recovery solutions to take over when things go wrong.


Public transport can, at best, be patchy, and if roads are closed by weather events, like surface water flooding or snowstorms, staff might not be able to reach their base. Office 365 lets people work from wherever and provides a digital environment that tracks what people are working on.

Image and attitudes

The perception about rural businesses can be that they are agricultural-based – but the truth is that all kinds of diverse firms operate in countryside locations. Here’s where good use of digital can help – a knock-out company website and compelling social media provides a shop window to your operation, when you might not have much in the way of passing footfall.

By embracing digital technology, rural businesses can overcome many perceived barriers. IT costs can be lowered and businesses can be innovative by doing things differently, allowing them to operate more competitively.

Clark’s expert team can advise on solutions tailor-made to your business – and your location.

Make sure you’re using technology to make your business grow

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