Leaving the European Union will impact the delivery of a multitude of services, including IT services.
For now, nothing much has changed, but over the next two years various regulations will be reviewed, affecting data storage, knowledge and skills transfer, trade and IT security.
No one can predict the future, but we’ve come up with tips to help small businesses prepare for any changes they might need to make to their IT, and advice on using IT to overcome barriers.
Audit the skills your IT team (whether in house or outsourced) has or needs, and whether you’re reliant on Europeans. Brexit may make it more difficult to recruit from Europe, which could affect you/your IT services provider. Consider extending recruitment to other countries and any required paperwork or processes.
Review your compliance with current data law. The UK Data Protection Act 1998 is still in force, and EU General Data Protection Regulation (introduced in 2015 and fully enforceable by May 2018) will apply indefinitely when doing business with clients in EU markets. Notable policies include:
· The ‘right to be forgotten’ and for data to be permanently erased from company systems once consent has been withdrawn
· Ensuring the data collected from clients and users is freely given, and not under duress
· The obligation to store, and to make freely accessible, each client’s/users data to them in a ‘readable’ format
If you’re not already operating in line with these regulations, it makes sense to do so, so you can do business with companies based in EU member states.
How much of your customer base/what proportion of your business is within the European Union? Consider the impact of Brexit and currency changes on your pricing and whether it’s still competitive.
You may need to reduce travel to client markets – not because Brexit means you won’t be able to, but because it may squeeze budgets during the current period of uncertainty.
In the meantime take advantage of technology which allows you to meet virtually and across time zones.
Contingency plan around the supply of IT hardware and software to your business.
Changes to trading standards post Brexit could affect how quickly goods ca be delivered and the availability of new technologies, the export of which could be slowed by new regulations.
Make sure you have a decent level of protection against cyber crime.
Brexit doesn’t necessarily increase the threat, but now is as good a time as any to ensure you’ve got up to date anti virus software, strong passwords across all devices, and are taking advantage of any technology you’re paying for which can offer better protection.
Hackers are opportunists and they may see UK businesses as easier targets whilst regulatory changes happen and loopholes open up. Make sure you’re not an easy target.
Andy Hinxman is director of Keybridge IT.