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Investing in Uncertainty For Brexit Stability

30th Oct 2018
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Political and economic uncertainty can make business leaders cautious, and naturally so. With the IMF suggesting that a no-deal Brexit will hit the UK economy substantially – it’s no wonder some businesses are anticipating the future with a mixture of dread and paralysis. The UK services sector shrunk for the first time in eight years this summer, as news of a potential no-deal Brexit started to loom large.

But despite this, many larger organisations are continuing to invest in new technology. In the last few weeks, both Nationwide Building Society and EY have announced significant investments into new technology as a way to future-proof their businesses against whatever lies ahead.

SMEs must also ensure they do not let the threat of uncertainty freeze their strategic decision making. We cannot be sure how Brexit will play out but what we can be sure of is that things will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future – so businesses need to continue investing in the changes and innovations that will support them in managing greater levels of volatility, uncertainty, risk and ambiguity.

What then should these solutions do?

Improve efficiency to improve margins: Margin control is particularly important during times of uncertainty, especially in light of the rising price of raw materials. The ability to squeeze an extra few percent out of a product can make the difference between breaking even or generating profit. Saving money on unnecessary admin costs or everyday processes means companies can continue to offer their customers great value for money without denting their own profits. Ryman Healthcare reduced its construction development times by 3 months with help from real-time job cost management technology. While JR Tusting has reduced the generation of month-end financial reports from several days to 30 minutes, allowing the accounts team to focus on more strategic tasks.

Support more accurate forecasting: Agile adaption to rapidly changing market conditions and consumer demand is also a marker for success. There’s no two ways about it, businesses must be able to calculate accurate future sales forecasts to model their operations accordingly. The best way to do so is to use software which automatically analyses historical sales data, industry algorithms, seasonal fluctuations and human experience to do so; providing businesses with recommendations for manufacturing and sales projections.

Ease the complexities of international trading: As the UK economy slows, growth continues in places like China, the USA and Japan. International markets are an obvious opportunity, provided organisations are positioned to export their goods and services. There are of course many things to consider when trading internationally but the most obvious and crucial thing to get right is calculating across multiple currencies and managing cash flow. International mobile billing and SMS messaging services, txtNation, switched from manual to automated processes to do so across the 80-plus countries and 50 currencies it operates in. It can now see the markets where it’s marginal or making a loss, and re-negotiate its rates. With this additional visibility the company is saving around 12% a month in costs across all of its markets worldwide. No small feat.

Enable mobility & agility: In a world of part-time contracts, flexible working and international commerce, the ability to mobilise the workforce is essential. To be truly effective, a modern workforce needs to be able to access all the information relevant to fulfilling their role wherever they are, and quickly. Giving them the ability to access this kind of data out on the move via their mobile device can improve efficiency, eliminate administrative functions, reduce data errors and increase customer satisfaction dramatically. All of which have a significant impact on ROI.

Much around Brexit is still yet to be confirmed, but even without Brexit the pace and stability of business has long been a moving fast. The need to improve efficiency, margins, forecast accurately, trade internationally, enable agility and mobility has long been on the business agenda thanks to rapidly changing consumer demands and the consumerisation of technology, digital revolution.

The businesses which have, and continue, to successfully navigate these choppy waters are those who invest in the digital foundations that enable them to adapt and evolve at pace. The current political climate and associated economic implications only increase the urgency to do so. As the famous mathematician and author John Allen Paulos says “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” Words for any business owner to live by.

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