The UK doesn’t officially exit the European Union until 11 p.m. (UK time) on March 29, 2019, and a two-year transition will follow the exit to ensure that businesses have ample time to adapt to new policies. The management of enterprise data in the cloud will no doubt be one of the areas impacted, and IT decision makers will need to formulate a plan to deal with the uncertainty in a post-Brexit world.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are seen by many as the foundation of the British economy. Besides making up more than 99 percent of firms in the private sector, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, they also employ 60 percent of the total private sector workforce. Since 2010, SMEs have been responsible for the creation of around two million jobs, and they comprise 73 percent of private sector job creation in the UK.
In “The Economic Consequences of the Brexit Vote,” authors Born, Müller, Schularick, and Sedláček postulate that the magnitude of uncertainty surrounding the decision and the fact that many policies are as yet unknown will contribute to a negative impact on the UK economy. In a study from the University of St. Andrews on the future strategic plans of 10,000 SMEs, the results indicated that business leaders expect to suffer from reduced levels of investment, less access to financing, and an overall lower level of growth. Sixteen percent of SMEs responded that the Brexit decision would present a significant obstacle to their business growth.
The size and scope of an SME played a large role in whether or not they held a negative outlook on their future. Almost one-third of the biggest SMEs, employing between 50 and 249 employees, believed that Brexit would pose a major obstacle to their growth. Almost twice as many SMEs that are considered innovators (23.9 percent versus 12.2 percent) see Brexit as an obstacle, and those falling under the category of exporters represent an especially troubled population at 33.2 percent.
In the IT space, and indeed all industries, what the future holds concerning the Brexit decision remains a mystery for now. The only thing businesses can count on is an increase in the complexity of operations as a result of new rules and regulations. Housing the data of EU residents in the UK may result in additional compliance requirements and regulations where there used to be more uniformity. In relation to the cloud, it will be critical to consider these four areas:
- Importance of Data
Your business should have a clear concept of the value (and sensitive nature) of the data that is critical for operations. Undertake efforts to assess risks and costs involved with current data storage practices. Especially in an international business organization, deciding where to house data is a complex question that is largely determined by how that data is utilized.
Many CIOs prefer to keep their companies’ data relatively nearby, and some of them will only work with companies that house data within the UK. That’s often difficult for large companies with offices in various countries, so it’s important to look at what you’re using your data for to decide where it should be stored.
A cloud platform is a great way to minimize uncertainty when you’re not sure where to host data. The cloud can support locally hosted options in either the UK or elsewhere in the EU, and cost-effective cloud options will help mitigate the risks associated with long-term investments or expensive migrations.
Adoption of cloud is likely to increase globally. In particular, companies can expect the demand for cloud computing to continue to rise in a post-Brexit Europe. In the UK, Brexit will likely give a push for more locally stored privacy data.
The cloud has advanced to the point where it’s actually more secure and reliable than traditional on-premise solutions. In fact, 64 percent of enterprises report that the cloud is more secure than their previous legacy systems, and 90 percent of businesses in the US are currently utilizing a cloud infrastructure. These improvements in security can also come with an attractive reduction in cost.
Adopting a cloud architecture represents an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of new services such as analytics, AI, and the possibility for secure collaboration outside the business premises. To CIOs, moving to the cloud is a chance to overcome previous internal limitations and improve their value proposition.
Because so much about Brexit remains up in the air, businesses will need to be prepared to adapt rapidly to whatever policies and regulations result from the move. Instead of undertaking a costly move to a more advantageous location, cloud adoption can provide the ideal solution to data storage and accessibility issues and is one of the most effective ways for IT leaders to prepare their companies.