Olive CFO, Brett Morris shares his views on how businesses are coping with the confusion of Brexit, and the associated risks of staying stagnant.
With the tragi-farce of Brexit on the verge of entering its third year with no clear end in sight, what steps have UK IT channel businesses been taking, if any, to prepare themselves for the consequences of an exit from the EU?
Brexit and the delay to an EU exit has certainly made us focus more closely on our entire risk matrix, especially following our recent international expansion.
We regularly review all aspects of our business to ensure that we are “future-proofing” and to facilitate growth, however, with Brexit as a constant point of uncertainty this means keeping one eye on the risks that may affect the way we consume goods from both our local and international supplier network and our capability to supply services globally. It also means generally reviewing how we will conduct business internationally from our UK and Australian offices over the next 3 years, irrespective of a deal, no deal Brexit or >as a result of further delays, with a key feature of this being how any risk scenario may affect our ability to attract and retain motivated top-tier staff and to consider how to turn these risks into potential growth opportunities.
Has the never-ending cycle of confusion, uncertainty and delay had any noticeable affects on the UK IT channel companies and their business?
The biggest risk of long delay in resolving the Brexit conundrum is that it may cause complacency amongst some IT companies who come to accept this as business as usual. This delay then becomes the status quo with not enough companies focusing on the risks so that, when the unforeseen arrives, those companies are caught off guard.
If anything, the fog surrounding Brexit has been a catalyst for us to fast tracking key strategic and operational changes within our business. Projects that may have been more gradually develope are now being implemented with greater speed and urgency, an example being improving our digital strategy to enhancing our operations model. The result of this is that we have solid building blocks in place to continue to grow the business over the next three years no matter what the next Brexit twists and turns may be.
We’re also finding the same enhanced decision making frameworks and dedication to executing efficiency with our customers. Realising they can’t control Brexit they, like us, are looking at what other risks can be removed from the table and how to get to the solution quickly to reap the benefits. The uncertainly around Brexit has also presented us with an opportunity to support companies in assessing risk and future-proofing their business. Whether that’s through digitalisation, Unified Communications or cloud migration, there’s a strong appetite amongst our customers to get in place the systems and processes to safeguard business continuity and growth during these times of uncertainty.
Is it sensible to prepare for a worst case scenario, and what does this look like? Or is it better for companies to keep their heads down and get on with their normal business until something actually happens?
Preparing for a worst case scenario as a sole potential outcome is never an advisable strategy because all decision making is then driven from a defensive perspective and ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as the business actively retreats from opportunities, thereby limiting potential positive outcomes. The correct approach in my view is to evaluate each opportunity on its merits and then acting accordingly based on a rigorous assessment of the fact pattern and potential risk-weighted outcomes.
Rather than prepare for a worse case scenario, prepare for a scenario that will see the company better able toserve its customers effectively and profitability. Take a more robust approach by considering what changes need to be made to remove or mitigate those risks that you can control, and to create a solid base on which the business can stand to best weather any risk scenario, be it the Brexit storm or any other unknown-unknowns.
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