What do IT leaders think of Brexit?

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Will Astbury
by Will Astbury 25 October 2017

CIOs and IT Leaders had their say on Brexit at the 11th Annual Harvey Nash Business Lecture on Thursday 12 October 2017, with 67% of them revealing that they had voted to remain in the European Union.

Prior to the event, the audience, who were chiefly made up of Harvey Nash’s clients that benefit from its IT recruitment services, were surveyed about their thoughts on the current political environment’s effect on British business. These results were then compared to similar questions asked at the lecture in 2016.

It was revealed that 57% of the audience were “extremely disappointed” by the Brexit result and that 76% had wanted to remain, primarily because they wanted access to the single market.

A staggering 88% of the audience felt that their organisations were not prepared for Brexit.

The keynote speaker Lord Digby Jones, former Minister of State for Trade and Investment, discussed the topic for the day 'Deal or No Deal? The Future for British Business'.

Reflecting on how negotiations for leaving the EU were being handled, Lord Jones said the talks would be difficult and that fundamental policies needed to be in place, namely; the UK should have full control of its borders and how they were managed, trade relationships should be made afresh, and finally the UK should have a sovereign status.

He also spoke passionately about how consumer technology was changing the way people interacted with businesses and political parties. He said: "they (phones) have empowered in a fabulous way and enhanced business. It's allowed people to shift the dynamic of communication to unilateral intercourse; the days of leaflets and show leather are over."

He argued that “complacency is the biggest disease within business” and that organisations should embrace technological advancements if they were to beat their competitors.

This view was reflected in the findings of a report authored by Harvey Nash and KPMG, titled ‘The future of work’. It stated that robotic automation will eliminate 15 million jobs from the UK economy in the next 20 years and that 50% of all jobs will be affected by automation. The report suggests that business leaders will have to carefully manage their workforces, as roles are altered and reshaped, to ensure employees work in harmony with digital technology.

Bringing it all together

There is still a great amount of uncertainty within the business community and among IT leaders about what Brexit means for UK organisations. This situation will continue until deals are agreed with Brussels.

In post Brexit-Britain, UK businesses will have to harness the power of cutting-edge technology to give themselves an advantage in the global market place. However, business leaders need to be mindful of the affect technology will have on human jobs, as increasingly complicated jobs, processes, and tasks are automated.

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Crimson is an IT consultancy, an IT solutions provider, an IT recruitment agency, and a Microsoft Gold Partner operating across the UK.

Topics: Brexit, AI