Brexit Is Forcing Business Decisions, but a ‘No Deal’ Scenario Puts the IT Focus Firmly on Risk Mitigation

J. Marcus

Summary Bullets:

  • Brexit is driving demand for risk management advice in IT as well as in financial and legal domains.
  • Integrators like DXC Technology are offering tactical and strategic solutions, suggesting the disruption of Brexit be used as an opportunity for transformation.

It should surprise no one that a ‘Brexit strategy advisory firm’ is a thing that exists. The increasing potential for the UK leaving the European Union in March 2019 without a trade deal in place is creating bittersweet opportunities not only for financial and legal advisors, but also in tech. Global IT services company DXC Technology has hooked up with specialist consultancy Brexit Partners as its UK and European customer base takes account of imminent risks. Other IT firms will soon be doing the same, if they’re not already.

The idea is to be proactive in the face of unprecedented change, taking advantage of any chances to disrupt the market with an innovative approach for competitive advantage, and to prepare for any negative impacts of Brexit and mitigate them where possible. Let’s be honest: it’s the latter which is absolutely top of mind for affected enterprises and the main reason to engage IT and consulting companies at this uncertain time.

That’s why DXC and Brexit Partners’ end-to-end Brexit impact analysis, scenario planning, and strategy and execution capabilities will be in demand, as clients in four key industries (financial services, retail, manufacturing, and water utilities) face a still-unknown level of disruption to their immediate business environment. Of course, consultants will argue that firms should approach Brexit as a transformational change and use it as an opportunity to futureproof their organizations.

But, how can an IT services firm help with what most of us rightly see as a political and trade-oriented challenge?

  • Business Analysis: At the heart of the challenge is identifying business processes that rely on the existing EU business environment to function seamlessly, but may not come March. Nearly all business processes are enabled by IT, so technology solutions are likely to be sought for immediate problems.
  • Public Infrastructure: UK and European businesses with cross-border operations rely on telecommunications and IT infrastructure that may be delivered via a collection of commercial networks and cloud/hosting centers that straddle the UK’s hardening border. IT services firms can help enterprises shift stored data and migrate IT workloads to the appropriate jurisdiction; more importantly, they can advise them on how to optimize such resources for the future.
  • Human Resources: IT services firms know how to run day-to-day systems, and the larger European and global players will be ready to fulfil any demand for outsourced capabilities in a given market, should the disruptions forced by a ‘no deal’ Brexit extend to workforce issues either in the UK or the EU.
  • Digital Transformation: Tech-enabled solutions have been floated to solve the UK government’s own problems with regard to EU border controls, but enterprises need to address their own potential for digital transformation with or without a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Firms like DXC are doing just that for global enterprises, implementing digital platforms to improve supply chains or internal operations by leveraging the full scope of available vendors, open source technology, and their own deep well of professional expertise. DXC also just acquired a product design consultancy to help place user experience at the center of digital transformation.

That all sounds grand, but the UK is leaving the European Union in less than six months and a ‘no deal’ scenario means there will be no transition period and no agreement on how economic, business, social, security, and other arrangements will be managed going forward between the two jurisdictions. The businesses most affected are focused on limiting their risk, so pragmatic and easy-to-implement solutions – whether with the help of lawyers, consultants, or IT firms – will take top priority between now and then.

With necessity being the mother of invention, though, difficult-to-solve issues can benefit from the co-innovation possibilities that come from an IT provider with deep capabilities in both newer digital and legacy IT. The question is whether government negotiations will be completed in time for digital business solutions to be developed. With the political situation in the UK at the moment, no business is banking on that. That will keep innovation in the back seat behind risk mitigation, but tech firms can still be called upon to supply what are essentially IT-enabled Brexit damage control solutions.

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