12th December 2018
Cloud: the one certainty in an uncertain post-Brexit world
Harold de Neef, Civica's Group Director, Cloud explores what the future holds in today's turbulent political climate
There is still enormous uncertainty concerning the UK’s future after Brexit. But one thing is for certain: business leaders will require flexibility to respond to the impact of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) in 2019. So 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 TechMarketView which recently reported that 50% of the UK enterprise software market will be Software as a Service (Saas) by 2021, double what it is today. Indeed, organisations are increasingly dependent on technology to serve ever-more demanding users, and will therefore spend more on software and cloud-based services that offer greater flexibility and future proofing.
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. At the same time, a new report from Solarwinds showed 77% of public sector respondents considered cloud the most important technology in their current strategy.
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 is also clear that agile and collaborative working, together with increased data insight, will be crucial to transformation. So what can the cloud offer in this period of budget constraints and uncertainty?
Enabling further efficiencies
With a continued requirement for public sector bodies to work under the constraints of flat or reducing budgets (and no sign of this changing in the near future), organisations need to change the way they operate to proactively deliver better service in a more agile way. The UK’s future prosperity relies on technology innovation and, undoubtedly, moving to the cloud will be a major factor in driving further efficiencies. Not only because the cloud allows a more efficient delivery but also because it helps accelerate the implementation and adoption of technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Whether it is increased scalability, improved mass communication or real-time data sharing, cloud computing makes businesses and organisations more efficient, while lowering costs.
Offering 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. It doesn’t require spend in on-premises hardware and infrastructure (fixed assets) in an unpredictable environment. The cloud can support locally hosted options in either the UK or elsewhere in the EU and, crucially, it is scalable, meaning no need to use a ‘crystal ball’. Organisations can look at what they move to the cloud and when, especially as 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. Many organisations will need support to navigate changing compliance requirements post-Brexit, as these guidelines are subject to change, including when new regulations are introduced if the UK finds new trade partners. The flexibility and agility that cloud computing offers will give a clear advantage to organisations, enabling them to adapt quickly.
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 them with the agility to adapt rapidly to changes in policies and regulations. The cloud provides the ideal solution to data storage and accessibility issues and is one of the most effective ways for IT leaders to prepare their organisations.
Engaging and attracting talent
Moreover, to attract top tech talent, it is essential to offer flexible and collaborative working across organisations, especially those that are geographically dispersed. The cloud 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 the value they deliver to their organisation through the adoption of tools like analytics or AI, and securing collaboration outside the business premises.
Most public sector organisations have, at least partly, embraced the cloud and understand its benefits. In these unsettling Brexit times, it provides organisations with much needed flexibility and agility. If you add that investing in the cloud facilitates rapid adoption of innovation and new technologies such as AI which will be vital to the UK economy’s future success, there has never been a better time to turn to the cloud.