The past two months have seen major changes in the UK’s political landscape. After the Conservative Party won its largest majority since the 1980s, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was able to pass the necessary legislation for Brexit to proceed.
For those in tech, this is good news, as they are able to plan for the future with renewed certainty. That’s not to say that there was a huge concern prior to the election — indeed, the sector remained resilient throughout 2019. At a time of great political uncertainty, the amount of VC investment into British technology firms climbed to a record of £10.1 billion last year.
This spells positive news for the future of the sector. Indeed, according to a poll of 100 UK tech startups conducted at the tail end of 2019 by Studio Graphene, a huge majority (75 percent) were confident in their ability to grow over the next twelve months - though a bigger figure (88 percent) said the Government’s handling of Brexit had been ‘awful’ (65 percent) or ‘poor’ (23 percent).
However, Brexit negotiations are still underway and there is uncertainty as to what exactly will happen after the 31st of January. So, how can tech, and data center firms specifically, best prepare for the future?
Plan your talent sourcing
Data is a thoroughly international trade, and there are talented EU nationals working in UK data centers - some of whom may consider leaving the UK post-Brexit. However, there are ways to retain those staff or fill the gaps they leave behind, with upskilling your current team being especially effective. In many ways it can be a win-win; firms can save on recruitment costs and build on pre-existing professional relationships, while employees can benefit from investment in their development.
Speak to the experts
With an issue as huge and influential as Brexit, it may be worth seeking expert advice. There’s likely a high level of complexity and legalese that will need managing for many data center firms, but thankfully Brexit management consultancies are popping up to help smooth the path [though DCD would advise checking their track record to weed out any who are jumping on the bandwagon - Editor].
Model and save
As with any period of change, there are likely to be unexpected costs for data center firms down the line. What these may entail is not yet clear [and the possibility of No Deal can't be ignored, given the starting position of the UK's trade deal negotiations, and the short time - 11 months - in which to reach a real deal] - Editor].
Whilst punitive tariffs are unlikely firms should be ready for additional operating costs. To prepare, model what these might tally to, integrate it into your financial plan, and consider saving for a rainy day.
Is it time to go abroad?
It might be time to open up shop in Europe: We recently opened an office in Lisbon to act as a development hub alongside our Swiss, UK and India branches. Setting up an office on the continent will not be an appropriate move for all data center firms due to the cost and logistical requirements. However, some tech companies will think these are worth the benefit of continued seamless integration within the European market.
With renewed certainty, data center companies can once again begin planning for the future and for the post-Brexit landscape. There are many different areas to consider in this endeavor, but the overriding point is simply to conduct extremely thorough research. Doing so will ensure that you are ready for whatever happens during the transition period and beyond.