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Will it be a Brexit through the gift shop for your EU competitors?

Some fanatics are passionate about failure for the UK IT industry. Nick Booth wonders if they will be disappointed.

This age of disruption we’re living in - I’m not sure I like it. It seems very dangerous doesn’t it? In a time of fear and uncertainty, only fools and fanatics are ever sure of their opinions. Sadly, these are exactly the sort of people who shout the loudest. Rumours and half truths abound, and these tend to unsettle people and destroy confience. When that happens, people are less likely to trade.

Recently, on a press trip to Romania, I saw two foolish fanatics do their best to undermine any trust that our hosts might have in trading with Britain. Though they professed to be ‘passionate’ about Europe, that ‘passion’ didn’t make them spare the feelings of our Romanian hosts. Instead, these self centred Remainiacs spent their entire evening trying to convince our  hosts that 52% of the UK population hates them. Never trust anyone who tell you about their passion, but don’t show any. They are more con-passion than compassion. 

The fear mongers seem desperate for trade to come grinding to a halt, just so they can look virtuous. They are either too dim or too conceited to care, but it affects everyone.

Even Amplicon, a company with a 40 year heritage of industrial computing, is affected by the uncertainty. Ashley Cooper, Amplicon’s international sales manager, says clients are now making noises about reconsidering future supply contracts as a result of Brexit. “I’ve had a couple of comments from people in the last couple of months. They were sort of throwaway comments, but I get the impression that clients are getting hesitant and looking to hedge their bets,” says Cooper.

These ‘shots across the bow’ as Cooper describes them, come as Britain moves into dangerous waters and nobody really knows what’s going to happen. Meanwhile, the panic merchants, who seem desperate to talk down their own side, are not helping. It’s perfectly understandable that Amplicon’s Portugese client may want to obviate the risk of Britian not being in the single market and its goods being subject to tariffs. If that were to happen. It’s also understandable that competitors in the Single Market may wish to capitalise on this uncertainty and try to win some new business. We’d do the same. It’s baffling that there are people in the UK who desperately want their domestic suppliers to lose business, especially when their own livelihood depends on it.

Meanwhile, the UK’s exporters and importers face another home grown hazard. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customers (HMRC) is introducing a new customs system, the Customs Declaration Service, which was designed to cope with current volumes of trade, assuming UK continued membership of the Single Market. Many trade bodies, such as the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF), worry that CDS will not be able to cope with such a significant increase in transaction volume, and in any case the new IT infrastructure will not be ready until six months after UK exit from the EU. If it is not up and running correctly and consistently, then there is a major risk that a substantial part of the UK food supply will grind to a halt.

Which is a massive threat. But possibly an IT opportunity for some plucky cloud-enabled IT as a service (AaS) provider. It all depends on your attitude. Are you an Aas half full or a an Aas half empty type?

The good news: in many industries it takes forever and costs a fortune to change suppliers, so Brexit won’t change that. “It’s nothing I’m genuinely worried about,” says Cooper. Don’t tell the ‘passionate’ Remainiacs - they will be bitterly disappointed.

This was last published in June 2017

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