The triggering of Article 50 is imminent. Since the vote last summer, UK businesses have already experienced significant market uncertainty and challenges caused by dynamics such as exchange rate shifts and changing demand patterns. With a risk of greater uncertainty to come, including likely changes in regulation and the free movement of talent, organizations must be on the front foot to deal with whatever the future holds. But, shockingly, despite news that the majority of UK businesses ( 77%) are concerned about the impact of Brexit, our research has revealed that 44% of those companies still haven’t started planning for what Brexit means for them.
What’s concerning is that many organizations are still relying on outdated, disconnected technology to plan ahead for what Brexit could mean for their business. Whether it be using pen and paper (58%), email (81%), Microsoft Excel (86%), or Microsoft Word (80%), it’s safe to say that UK businesses aren’t adequately protecting themselves for whatever challenges Brexit might bring. Without the tools in place that are appropriate for today’s business challenges, these companies will likely struggle to adapt quickly enough.
Not only that, but they also risk missing out on opportunities that these market changes could offer. Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) business decision-makers say that the move to leave the EU has positively impacted their organization already. For those that get it right, these uncertain times can be a chance to drive improvements and revenues.
Benefits of preparation
By being prepared for Brexit, companies are in a better position to navigate what they consider to be their biggest obstacles, including losing access to the EU single market (31%), regulatory changes (27%), and exchange rate fluctuations (26%). With so many unknowns, companies should be looking to harness their data for a clearer understanding of their businesses’ strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Putting in place connected processes that will allow them to be much more flexible in the short-term while understanding the long-term impacts of Brexit, will give them the best chance of succeeding. Enabling this type of preparation across multiple lines of business and locations, around the world, is an essential weapon in any companies’ armor. But, many companies are still reliant on outdated processes to map what the future could look like, or worse, are simply adopting a wait-and-see strategy.
Strong and clear leadership will also be crucial for companies as they prepare for Brexit, but UK companies believe this is lacking. When it comes to knowing what will happen post-Brexit, a third of respondents stated that they don’t trust anyone (33%)—this alone may explain why levels of concern surrounding the issue are so high. Only 20% of respondents say they trust their CEO to know what will happen post-Brexit, even though 40% believe that the CEO is responsible for managing its impact. Survey respondents also don’t trust those outside of their organisations to know what will happen post-Brexit, with industry analysts (26%), the UK government (26%), and the Bank of England (25%) only trusted by a quarter of those surveyed. Empowering executives to navigate the market is therefore critical to ensuring business leaders can lead effectively.
No script for Brexit
What’s certainly true is that we live in a continuously changing world where volatility is the only constant. For those businesses that are prepared to deal with any changes around the corner, this volatility can be a huge opportunity. Unfortunately, there isn’t an approved script for how to cope with situations such as Brexit, but businesses can and should model and plan for multiple future scenarios; ready course-correct their strategy. Looking at best- and worst-case scenarios to understand business impact will make organisations better prepared to manage and exploit whatever happens tomorrow or in the future.
Business leaders must equip themselves to pivot quickly in response to any number of outcomes and by taking a connected planning approach, they can get to work immediately. This year is set to continue to be one characterised by uncertainty, but one thing can be relied upon: technology is now essential in supporting business agility.