So the unexpected happened.
The UK public has officially voted to leave the European Union. I’m sure I’m not the only person that woke up for work early Friday morning feeling ready for the weekend, pouring myself a cup of tea and turning the TV on as the final result of the EU Referendum was revealed. I, like many, assumed the vote for remain would be a walk in the park. But there I was giving that bold 51.9% figure against the word ‘LEAVE’ a quadrouble-take. LEAVE?! Did I need another trip to the opticians? Apparently not. It’s safe to say I poured myself another cup of tea.
So now there’s been some time for it all to sink in, there is definitely an element of the fear of unknown, especially as the UK is the first member state to leave the EU.
So what does this all mean for the UK digital industry?
The first reaction is panic. The majority of I-COMers voted remain and there was definitely no ‘Friday feeling’ on the morning of the result reveal, more of a Friday fear. Many digital services are billed in dollars, which the pound has lost value against, meaning tech start up plans could potentially be affected and e-tailers will be hindered by consumer’s tightened purse strings...I don’t know about you but I could do with some reassurance. I’ve seen enough scaremongering articles lately so here’s a more positive take on things.
There is plenty of reason for optimism. Over the past few years, the UK digital economy has risen with an astonishing record investment figure of over $3.5bn. The industry is one of the fastest growing, resilient, adaptable sectors of recent times and above all, has no borders.Let’s not forget, digital work is always online and readily available.
Additional to this, our digital talent pool is rich. We need to invest in this and sustain the recruitment of talented developers, creatives and data analysts. Closer to home, in Manchester, we could potentially see an influx of experienced London employees moving up north as costs overwhelmingly rise, further adding to the breadth of experience in the job market. There should also now be more focus on developing the Northern Powerhouse.
Also, the UK appears sixth out of 28 EU countries in the 2016 EU Digital Scorecard. The position in this leaderboard is based around a country’s internet activity and skills, ICT in schools, research and innovation among other factors. Here it states that the UK ranks first in terms of online shopping with 87% of UK internet users buying from online retailers and this position has remained unchanged over the last year. The UK is also one of few countries that in recent years has introduced coding lessons to school children and has seen an increase in STEM graduates. This surely makes for a promising future as the UK has high and increasing demand for ICT professionals.
So let’s try and keep our British pint glass half full and rise to the challenge. To thrive, we must now begin expanding our trade relationships with countries outside of the EU, open our eyes, adapt and identify new and exciting opportunities.
It is vital we monitor economical trends, adjust and move with the market. We need to work together and talk honestly with clients, proactively influencing their understanding of how we can help them achieve their business goals at this challenging time.
As the old saying goes, ‘if you can’t change a situation, change your mind.’