To navigate a post-Brexit world, businesses and public sector must consider a cloud-first approach
There is still enormous uncertainty concerning the UK’s future after Brexit. But one thing is for certain: business and public sector leaders are in pursuit of greater flexibility to help respond to the impact the economy faces when the UK leaves the European Union (EU) next year. Since 2013, the government has had a very clear statement that any new IT project should consider a cloud-first approach above all other solutions as part of its Cloud First policy.
Despite this, a recent Eduserv report suggests progress towards a ‘cloud first’ policy is slow, with only 40% of local authorities saying that they have a cloud policy or strategy in place. The study also found that although 62% now use some cloud infrastructure, but this has increased by just 10% since the previous study two years ago.
It is likely that the upheaval of Brexit will contribute to increased adoption of cloud-based services as organisations continue to prepare themselves for a potentially turbulent environment. This is echoed by Gartner, which states that worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2019, an increase of 3.2% from expected spending of $3.7 trillion in 2018. Driven by increased cloud adoption, organisations are critically dependent on technology and will spend more on software and cloud-based services that offer greater flexibility and future proofing.
Public sector organisations remain under unprecedented pressure to deliver transformed services to a growing and demanding population, with major budget constraints. While departure from the EU is likely to require the implementation of a high volume of new legislation, it’s also clear that agile and collaborative working will be crucial together with increased data insight.
Enabling further efficiencies
With a continued requirement for public sector bodies to work under the constraints of flat or reducing operating budgets (and no sign of this changing in the near future), organisations need to change the way they operate to proactively deliver better service delivery and efficiency. The UK’s future prosperity relies on technology innovation and, undoubtedly, moving to the cloud and implementing technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will be a major factor in driving further efficiencies. Whether it’s increased scalability, improved mass communication or real-time data sharing, cloud computing makes businesses and organisations more efficient, while lowering costs.
Flexibility around data hosting
In pursuit of greater flexibility and controlled IT spending in the pre- and post-Brexit environment, the cloud is a sensible investment for many organisations. It doesn’t require investment in on-premises hardware and infrastructure based on predicting requirements in an unpredictable environment. The cloud can support locally hosted options in either the UK or elsewhere in the EU and crucially, it’s scalable. Organisations can look at what they move to the cloud and when, in-line with when hardware needs to be refreshed.
Increasing security and streamlining regulatory compliance
Cloud solutions have advanced to the point where they are more secure and reliable than traditional on-premises solutions. In fact, 64% of enterprises report that the cloud is more secure than their previous systems. Hosting all data in a secure cloud solution can ensure ease of access to help organisations meet GDPR requirements, which UK organisations will still need to meet. In addition, in an unsure regulatory environment, organisations need to look for a cloud provider that can not only offer cloud services, but also support across the full lifecycle of a service.
Many organisations will need support to navigate changing compliance requirements. Providers must outline cloud compliance and data privacy regulations clearly. These guidelines are subject to change in the future, including when new regulations may be introduced as Britain finds new trade partners, so the flexibility and agility that cloud computing offers will enable organisations to adapt to these more easily.
As the mention of Brexit is unsurprisingly followed by the word ‘uncertainty’, the ability to adapt to sudden changes is vital. Adopting a cloud architecture will help organisations to take advantage of new services and provide the ability to adapt rapidly to whatever policies and regulations result. Cloud adoption can provide the ideal solution to data storage and accessibility issues and is one of the most effective ways for IT leaders to prepare their organisations.
In terms of attracting top tech talent, it’s essential to offer flexible and collaborative working across organisations, especially those that are geographically separate. Using cloud computing reduces the need for employees to travel long distances or be firmly rooted to their desks from 9-5pm, as systems can be accessed remotely, on demand. For CIOs, moving to the cloud offers the ability to overcome previous limitations and improve their value proposition through the adoption of services such as analytics, AI and secure collaboration outside the business premises.
Most public sector organisations have, at least partly, embraced the cloud and understand its benefits. The government has been banging the cloud drum for over five years, and in an unsettled time, it provides organisations with more stability and minimises risk. Investing in cloud infrastructure can facilitate rapid ongoing change and tech innovation, which will be so vital to the UK’s economy’s future success.
Harold de Neef,