“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, 535 – 475 BC
The fallout from Brexit has not stopped. Since the UK’s vote on June 23 to leave the European Union (EU), there have been lots of changes in the region. First, there are economic changes, such as the impact on growth and the drop in the value of the pound against the dollar. Then there are political changes, such as turnover of personnel in the cabinet and the recent High Court ruling that the parliament should vote before the withdrawal process is triggered. Now, Scottish government officials believe that they should have a say as well.
Despite these changes, there are plenty more yet to come, following the negotiations that will take place over the next two years. The financial services industry in the UK – a conglomerate of banks, insurance companies, and investment firms – is formulating its contingency plans. As the UK provides a gateway to the rest of the EU, the Brexit breakup could mean more complexity in doing business in Europe. In fact, some banks are already planning to move operations out of the UK.
When facing so much uncertainty over an unspecified timeframe, only the most adaptable entities survive. Finance IT can play a significant role in ensuring that businesses are agile and can adapt to changes quickly in the EU market. Here are some of the challenges financial services companies may face:
- Moving business operations or headquarters out of the UK to other countries or financial centers such as France, Germany, or even New York
- Leveraging new ways of reaching customers across borders without investment in the physical footprint, including web or mobile platforms that are driven by technologies such as Big Data, machine learning, automation and digitization
- When relocating offices, extending security and compliance strategies to address additional regulations as required by other countries
What can IT do to support business agility and brace for changes on the horizon? Understandably, many financial IT long-term investment plans are halted for now and associated budgets have been repurposed to focus on maintaining day-to-day operations. However, an efficient IT strategy for everyday operations can also provide long-term agility. The strategy is to build a flexible IT architecture that virtualizes apps and centralizes management of the IT infrastructure:
- Virtualization of apps and data streamlines provisioning of IT resources based on changes in the workforce. Staffing changes can result from relocation of offices or the addition of workers from another country. Base on roles, IT can quickly get new workers the apps and data they need, improving productivity and morale. IT operations and management is centralized in order to reduce local IT instances, support, and associated costs. With this approach, more users and endpoints can be added to the infrastructure without exponentially increasing the complexity and costs.
- Security controls governing centralized access and integrated app delivery allow IT to configure policies quickly based on role, location, and device in order to comply with security and compliance requirements. Any device can access the apps and data without compromising user experience and business security.
- Optimized networks can handle sudden increases in network traffic and higher demand for access to apps and data better than regular networks. This means that all users on all types of devices get a high quality of service without compromising security.
- WAN virtualization allows new branch locations to be easily and cost effectively added to the enterprise network. It also increases the reliability of business-critical applications.
Be ready for change. Regardless of what may come in the next few years, ensuring agility of the business is top priority for finance IT leaders who face the uncertainty of Brexit. “Survival of the fittest” is no longer enough; the new motto should be “survival of the most adaptable.” Don’t be left unprepared.
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