It’s hard to get away from and rightly so – Brexit is arguably the biggest single political and national event many of us will experience. But what could be the impact of Brexit on the digital world in Britain? The overwhelming majority of digital professionals believe that Brexit is the biggest potential threat to the UK’s digital economy and it is the uncertainty that appears to be the main problem.
It is believed that there are as many as 60 reports covering the impact of Brexit on the UK economy (commissioned by the Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU)). Yet all of these are still to be released, which only adds to the general uncertainty. The UK’s tech industry was firmly on the side of the Remain campaign back in 2016 but many have now taken the view that it is possible for digitisation to be at the forefront of making the UK economy a competitive and independent global force.
The concerns over Brexit in the digital industry are centred around a number of key areas: free movement of labour/ideas, investment, trade, and data. The ‘closing’ of borders poses a threat when it comes to labour/talent as it will be much harder to attract and keep workers from outside of the UK due to the complexities of work visas, etc. Plus, Brexit is likely to result in loss of funding/investment: the EC currently provides funding to telecoms that is crucial for the development of talent and technology within the UK.
The EU is planning to adopt a raft of new measures and legislation to enable unfettered online trade in capital, goods and services between EU member states. This will in effect create a huge Digital Single Market (DSM). As a result of this, UK firms will potentially face barriers when it comes to cross-border online trade.
When it comes to the potential concerns surrounding data, companies outside the DSM would not be allowed to process customer personal data unless they have a special agreement with the EU. This could cause numerous problems across many industries. This is in addition to the issues surrounding the GDPR in terms of how the UK will deal with any additions/amendments to this legislation going forward (the act comes into force in 2018 across Europe, including the UK).
So what help does the industry hope to get from the government? There is a need to internalise the funding for technology that the UK will lose from the other EU member states. There is also an urgent need to start planning to fill the skills gap that will likely emerge due to the vastly smaller talent pool available in post-Brexit Britain. This may involve greater investment in STEM education.
Management teams today are having to wrestle with high-speed innovation and other challenges; however, they also have many opportunities. If you’d like to deal with any resourcing issues facing your organisation, contact Ross Clifford & Associates’ industry-leaders, today.
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