One year to Brexit
Whether you are counting the days, or if you are still coming to terms with the outcome of the 2016 referendum, there is not just one year until the UK leaves the EU. And that year will fly by in no time, meaning that the UK will no longer be forced to straighten its bananas (presumably grown in Cornwall, as I’ve tried and failed to grow them in Leicestershire), vacuum cleaners can be so strong they will rival the jet engine and suck up the entire contents of a house in a nanosecond, my passport can be blue, and Crazy Frog will be forgotten. I’m sure I heard that EuroPop would be prohibited from being played in the UK, is that right?
As a tech SME there will be some impact, and whilst it was reported that the UK Tech sector was very firmly in favour of remaining in the EU, I will put my political views to one side and focus on what the impact could be. There are a number of challenges that Tisski will need to overcome.
Free movement of labour
We have several team members from Europe, and some from even farther afield. We love our cultural, ethnic and gender diversity and believe it makes us stronger. That isn’t to say that we don’t want to recruit within the UK, but I suspect it will drive up the costs of labour already in a very competitive marketplace. Dynamics 365 resources can be hard to find, expensive to recruit, and with the allure of the contract market, difficult to keep. So, we will continue to make Tisski a great place to work, and do everything we can to keep the great team we have together. And we will look to participate in technology communities – think Silicone Valley, Boston, Bangalore. Getting visas for international recruits is already time-consuming, and this will apply to a greater number of countries from next year.
We don’t want to be forced to increase our costs and impact our customers’ wallets in this way, but we do have to consider that as an option.
Will hosting data in the EEA be allowed? As a Senior Civil Servant post-Brexit Referendum in 2016 this was a question I did my best to avoid. Would the Department for Education’s data be OK in data centres in Dublin and Amsterdam, or does that all need to be moved to sovereign data centres? And if that is the case then the opposite is true too, and any data for European customers will need to be migrated overseas. We don’t have any plans to move our data from the Azure data centres in Amsterdam and Dublin.
The EU was leading the charge with data privacy – look at GDPR and the way companies are acting in advance of 25th May 2018. If that had been implemented in 2019, or 2020, would we be acting the same way? If you ignore the hullabaloo of GDPR, it is being implemented for very good reasons, and that is to protect each and every one of us. Will there be new sets of standards implemented within the UK post-Brexit, meaning that we end up with a situation where we have GDPR and additional data protection regulation to comply with? At Tisski we will be keeping the data we hold to a minimum and only retaining that which we have a need for.
But it offers new potential for partnerships. Overseas companies may find it harder to break into UK markets unless they open up a UK operation, meaning that a viable route in would be vendor partnerships. Most of our work is with UK customers, but some of the vertical solutions we have developed could be applied around the world. Would a partnership with an EU-based supplier be our most effective route to market?
And whilst there is certainty over the date of Brexit, there is still uncertainty around what the impacts will be. Just read this article as a real example, so many unanswered questions to grapple with. Uncertainty reduces risk, which reduces investment. With a large public sector customer base, Brexit has been a key focus for all Departments of State, meaning that other areas of business take on a lower priority. Although it is hard to quantify, it will have had an impact on technology purchasing decisions.
So, there remains plenty for us to think about. The technology sector has been strong in the UK for a very long time, and given the breadth of talent at our disposal, I expect that will continue for years to come. Countries like Norway have succeeded outside of the EU, so Brexit isn’t a precursor for Armageddon. But, it promises to be another period of change and one that will see winners and losers. Whatever the result was from the vote on 23rd June 2016, Brexit gets closer and our approach will be to be alert to market forces, but more importantly to keep a focus on providing excellent service to our growing customer base.