Despite the prevailing sense of uncertainty around Brexit, there is one undeniable fact: a robust digital environment is crucial to the long term success of the UK.
Speaking at a BCS North London Branch and Elite members event in the capital, David Evans - BCS Policy and Community Director - offered the following summary: ‘We have to make it work. We have to be positive.’
BCS has begun many conversations and debates as it sets about drawing up a blueprint for post-Brexit IT success.
Why choose the UK over other countries?
Immediately after the EU referendum result, we surveyed our members for their views on some key points relating to the tech sector. We found:
- As you’d expect, members’ views were mixed - some were exceedingly bullish while others described themselves as doubtful.
- The majority of those surveyed believe that our nation’s academic culture, history of innovation and talent pool are what makes the UK an attractive place for the tech industry.
- The UK’s location and investment opportunities are positives.
In our survey we also asked our members what they thought were the most important facts that needed communicating to MPs. In order of priority, they told us we must:
- Ensure the UK remains a leading nation for digital innovation.
- Ensure support for our science and engineering education ecosystem.
- Fill the skills gap to ensure the UK can grow and attract the best talent.
A leading innovator
The results were close, which is unsurprising, as all three of those aspects go hand in hand.
To innovate you need the supporting education and research ecosystem as well as the great minds to deliver.
Without education you don't grow the skills, without the skills you don't get the innovation.
If the Brexit negotiators get just one aspect of that complex and interdependent system wrong, the UK will suffer.
The data issue
The need to focus on data protection and governance is one area where many IT professionals find agreement.
The arrival of the General Data Protection Regulations - set at a European level - and a formal UK exit could make for some difficult compliance decisions for businesses.
It is unlikely that an exit from European digital markets will be in any way positive, so compliance at some level is likely to be both necessary and desirable.
The BCS personal data challenge becomes even more vital in this context, as it becomes a framework for the incredibly important conversation around how the UK wants its citizens to be treated regarding data.
Irrespective of the economic situation, compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations that come into effect in 2018, and other factors, mean that organisations need access to capable people who can steer and implement change.
EU regulation will still apply until a final agreement is reached, and many elements of EU law are likely to still apply for the long term.
This means organisations will be dealing with a great deal of change. So, while many areas of the economy may be worried about contraction, the IT profession is likely to be incredibly busy through any likely scenario.