Three top takeaways from With’s Brexit Breakfast Briefing in association with BIMA
19 November 2018
By the Withpr Content Team
Brexit. As we trundle towards the end of the long and winding road of negotiations, anyone and everyone is brainstorming what it means for themselves and their businesses once the deal is finally secured. With a lot of controversy and divisiveness in the media, we hosted a Breakfast Briefing on the 6th November with the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), to discuss what Breixt might mean for the tech and digital industry, and work towards practical solutions. The panel, headed by CEO of With, Debbie Zaman, did a great job of running us through the topic. Each speaker left us with different insights and perspectives. Here are the key take-aways from the event:
1. Uncertainty is the root of the problems
Mergers & acquisitions for tech companies have been busier than ever post-Brexit, according to Anthony Waller, Partner at CMS. This was, as he described, a testament to the strength of the tech industry and the eco-system we have built in the UK. However, recently there has been a drastic dip in the number of mergers and acquisitions, which reflects a sudden change of confidence. This dip is likely to be driven by uncertainty, as negotiations and the political debate drag on. Although a solution seems to be tantalisingly close, people are unsure of what the future rules and regulations may be, which makes it difficult to commit investment at the moment. It’s like leaping into darkness – you don’t know what’s on the other side. However, the consensus was that this is just a pause for breath, and will not develop into a long-term issue, presuming the deal is agreed on all sides relatively soon.
2. Finding talent is not exclusively a Brexit problem
The uncertainty also means tech companies are fearful they may not find the right talent, due to lack of clarity over visa procedures and the future of the market. In fact, Jane Hales, Co-founder of Sapio Research, showed in exclusive research created for the event that 40% of decision-makers in UK tech are concerned about sourcing talent in a post-Brexit Britain. The research also suggested that the battle for talent could lead to a ‘war of the wages’, as companies begin to look more and more towards their competitors to poach the best talent. Another concern from a lack of talent is that businesses might have to make significant moves like extending the retirement age of their employees, so that they can keep hold of their best workers for longer should they struggle to find adequate replacements.
Nevertheless, despite these worries, it became clear that finding talent is not exclusively a ‘Brexit’ problem. Rather, it is a general geographical problem that exists beyond the ‘Brexit’ bubble – as Head of digital at Atos, Jillian Moore argued. With the tech industry’s reach being so hot across the globe, a large turnover of staff means that finding talent is a general challenge for tech companies, wherever they may be in the world.
3. Working globally is the future
With the world smaller than ever before, Europe is just one area of the globe in which we should look to do business. Looking forward, tech and digital companies should focus on how they can work cohesively, on a global level. One of the greatest challenges to global, 21st century businesses is establishing a single consistent business culture across markets. This is the key to a successful international brand. The agility of tech businesses to do this will be vital in the coming months and years.
Bearing this in mind, Jillian was of the view that Brexit is a red herring, and the future depends on how we can work in a global-facing world, with global-facing clients. Throughout the world, companies work across all sorts of borders, so Brexit implications shouldn’t be a cause for major concern in this context. Jane’s research insights revealed that, despite this, the option of ‘remote working’ was low on the priority lists of tech companies in light of Brexit. The panel of experts agreed that these kinds of solutions need to be more of a focus for the sector in order to work globally.
Following the event, it seems as though Brexit should not be a huge concern for the tech and digital industry. As Tom Frame, Co-founder at Etch, quite rightly pointed out, in times of change, there is a brilliant opportunity for game-changing business. Thanks to everyone that came down and made our event a great success.