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Datapipe: Businesses Aren’t Prepared For Brexit, But Don’t Expect Big Changes

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

We quiz Stewart Smythe, managing director at Datapipe Europe, about the potential impact of Brexit on UK-based businesses

Anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock today – although that might have been a wise move – will know that Prime Minister Theresa May has officially triggered Article 50, kicking off Britain’s exit from the EU.

As well as every other industry, Brexit has been a widely talked-about issue for the technology sector, creating a huge amount of uncertainty for businesses of all sizes.

Earlier this month at Cloud Expo Europe in London, Silicon got the chance to quiz Stewart Smythe, managing director at Datapipe Europe, about the potential impact of Brexit on UK-based businesses.

EU Brexit referedum

Moving clouds

It was an interesting time to talk to Smythe about Brexit. He was formally CEO of Adapt, which specialised in managed hybrid cloud services, until it was recently acquired by US firm Datapipe and its customers were apparently keen to tap into this opportunity.

“We’ve had more questions as a result of being bought by an American company as we have had as a result of Brexit,” Smythe said. “Which to me says, as a business they haven’t really got their head around what it means, but having a supplier that’s been bought by an American means they can ask us lots of questions.”

He suggested that many firms still don’t truly understand how Britain leaving the European Union will affect them, corroborating research from last year which found that over 50 percent of tech firms had had no discussion about the impact of Brexit on business.

But instead of sweeping regulatory changes as some people have predicted, Smythe envisages more of a “natural development” taking place: “I’m seeing a natural develop of the financial services regulatory environment, a natural development of the insurance regulatory environment and I’m not seeing Brexit start to dominate that.

“I’m seeing Brexit starting to force IT departments to create and be clear on their own internal data policy, but I don’t see a sweeping industry set of requirements emerging that are going to be a problem.”

The key to everything will be how the Brexit negotiations take shape when it comes to the regulatory environment and the UK’s position within Europe moving forward, especially with the more regulated industries. 

“The financial and insurance sectors believe at the moment that, through these negotiations that are going to happen between the UK government and the Eurozone, that they will not have a whole load of regulation thrown at them around where you can house data. They’re hoping they will carve out some agreements,” Smythe explained.

“The worst case scenario is that financial regulators will then have to make 27 different agreements with all the country’s in Europe, that will be a nightmare.

“That’s a good example of where they’re hoping that they’re going to get a carve-out from the EU that says you don’t have to contract 27 times, here’s one European wide financial regulatory body and they can just agree the policy there.”

Of course, at the moment nobody really knows how this is all going to play out. Britain has been maintaining a strong tech presence in the face of Brexit and we even have Apple CEO Tim Cook on our side, but the next few months will be when things really start to come into focus for UK businesses.

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