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What Does Brexit Mean for the UK's Tech Sector?

IT_support_companies_brexit.jpgBrexit has huge implications for almost all parts of British life and commerce, including the technology sector.  We can’t foresee exactly what a post-Brexit world will look like, but we can take a pretty decent guess at the areas that will be impacted across the UK’s tech sector.  Here are our top five.

The cost of technology

Since Brexit, the pound has fallen noticeably against the dollar, which will raise the cost of almost all technology imports, the overwhelming majority of which are priced in USD. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has predicted that the slow deterioration in the value of the pound will continue, perhaps levelling off around $1.24, almost a 20 percent fall from where it had been trading. This means the cost of technology equipment is bound to increase in price at some point.

University research funding

According to FullFact.org, the EU distributes £730 million in annual research funding to UK institutions and universities. This will no longer happen in a post-Brexit world, and will have to be made up by the UK Government. The worry is that a future government, faced with budget limitations (or simply one that sees higher education as a lower priority), might be tempted to cut this research funding.

The UK also has thousands of EU-based students who may choose not to come to UK institutions if they are being asked to pay UK tuition fees. Assuming this happens, it is not clear how the UK will continue to attract talent for research.

Public sector IT procurement

This wasn’t something we heard about during the debate, but Brexit has introduced uncertainty to rules governing how companies bid for business, including IT contracts, in local and national government. The EU imposes rules on the procurement process that would almost certainly need to be accepted by the UK simply because so much of this business operates across borders. If UK IT firms wish to bid for contracts abroad they will have to submit to the same rules when EU firms bid here.

Mobile networks and roaming

EU mobile roaming surcharges are estimated to cost UK phone customers an estimated £350 million a year, something that has been reduced over time thanks to EU tariff caps. From 2017 these charges were due to be abolished completely.

Now, with Brexit, we have no idea whether the roaming charges will indeed be banished for UK phone customers or not. Some think it will be impossible to get out of the abolishment of fees – while a few still see no compulsion for the industry to impose a regulation that would not apply once Brexit has been finalised.

UK companies could move EU data to European datacentres

Years ago, Margaret Thatcher brought in the first Data Protection Act because without it UK companies would not have been able to process personal data on Europeans--meaning London banks would not have been able to use their UK datacentres to maintain account information on customers in Germany.

But post-Brexit, a company in England might be pressured to keep the personal data of EU customers in a datacentre in Europe.  The cost of which will fall to UK companies.

 

The one certain thing in this uncertain future is that things will change.  They already have started to change. IT support companies and other technology organisations will need to stay on their toes to navigate their way through what will undoubtedly be a very different Europe, and world, in the years to come. The laws and regulations we have taken for granted, the exchange rates we have become used to, and the continental talent we have come to rely on, are not going to be the same moving forward. Suddenly, being nimble is the name of the game—and not just for the tech sector, but for all organisations.

 


About BTA

BTA is one of the leading IT support companies in London, providing comprehensive outsourced IT support to businesses looking for a competitive edge through technology.  BTA can help your company navigate the changes that lie ahead with regards to business technology, cyber security, cloud solutions, data storage and more. As one of the most established IT support companies in the UK, BTA offers strategic insight and IT consultancy your business can trust.

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