Oct 21, 2019

Blog Author: Melanie Parker, Principal Consultant

Not if, but when.

At the time of writing (15th October), Brexit still hasn’t happened and it’s still not clear when it will. What is clear is that almost all businesses – including yours – will need a post-Brexit data strategy.

There’s plenty of advice available about data and the post-Brexit world, but almost all of it focuses on the challenges and potential obstacles. Search for UK Government Brexit guidance for your business, and you will find a comprehensive database covering topics ranging from Footwear labelling after Brexit to Using your mobile in the EU and EEA countries if there’s no Brexit deal.

It’s true that the new business landscape outside the EU will present some difficulties for UK-based businesses to overcome. And many of them will be more tricky than using your mobile. But it’s also true that it will present new opportunities to businesses prepared to find them.

When Roland Emmans, UK technology sector head at HSBC, identified three types of businesses, he wasn’t directly referring to the post-Brexit landscape, but he could have been. There are, he said, “those that are tech, those that are tech-enabled, and those that are going to struggle to survive.” More specifically, he could have identified those that have a data management culture which could help them thrive after Brexit, those that merely have a data strategy which could help them to cope, and those whose lack of data management and strategy could see their survival in question.

The key to capitalizing on the opportunities Brexit represents is to ensure your business has a data strategy as an integral part of a data management culture. That doesn’t mean simply getting your data in good order and achieving GDPR compliance. It doesn’t mean just deciding on the next investment in technology that your business should make.

A data strategy for your business, built on an enterprise-wide data management culture, means having a business which has data running through it like the words in a stick of rock. And which has the vision, agility and ability to make data a revenue-generating asset.

If it does, you’ll be well placed to adapt to the transformed post-Brexit business landscape and turn it to your advantage.

The Government’s post-Brexit export strategy highlights the importance of digital services and data science to the UK. According to the CBI, data was responsible for £240bn of UK economic activity in 2017. With the potential to penetrate vibrant markets outside the EU post-Brexit, that figure could grow. The key is using your assets effectively to reach those markets – and data could be one of the most valuable and flexible weapons in your armory.

Your post-Brexit data strategy should identify how you can best use the data within your business to generate new revenue streams outside the EU.

A car manufacturer, for example, may encounter import and export obstacles post-Brexit which make building actual vehicles in the UK uneconomical. But with hundreds of thousands of vehicles already on the road, and the potential to harvest the data they produce, there could be a lucrative new market in providing weather forecasters with live temperatures from cars located across the country. Or supporting highways agencies with live video of traffic conditions, from in-car cameras. Or supplying manufacturers of autonomous vehicles with a huge database of recorded driving incidents to inform and “educate” their AI driving systems.

Selling these digital services across borders will be far less problematic than exporting physical products, which are subject to customs checks. Adapting to capitalize on new opportunities will also be easier. Digitally focused businesses are inherently more agile and flexible than old-style “metal-bashing” manufacturers.

But whether by the time you read this we are post-Brexit or still pre-Brexit, being ready to make Brexit a business opportunity will depend on having your business’s data strategy in place. As our whitepaper on Creating a Data Management Culture explains, this will entail adopting a cloud-first approach, undertaking effective data governance, adopting next-generation analytics, and ensuring 360° engagement to gain a full picture of your customers or suppliers.

You can find out more by registering for our next webinar, which explores the foundational building blocks to leverage data and drive forward-thinking business outcomes. Or you can contact me, Melanie Parker – Principal Consultant at Agile Solutions – to discuss your post-Brexit data strategy.