Now that Brexit is real – what’s next for companies?

14th March 2017

Category: business


The UK House of Lords have passed the Brexit bill, paving the way for the government to trigger Article 50 so the UK can leave the EU and allowing the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to formally start the process of taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

All of us living in this country, as well as our European neighbours, are wondering what this change of scale unprecedented since 1973 will bring, and how it will impact our future. Business people are wondering about the prospects for the British economy, changes to the business conditions, domestic demand, political and social stability, access to the single market, passporting rights, international trade, value of the Pound, and many other factors that will impact our companies in the years to come.

To make things worse Brexit is not our only worry. Uncertainty abounds, and few things are clear. The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Social and political instability becomes the norm in many Western countries, with second referendum on Scottish independence looming, new United States president and his unknown future policies, many European governments dominated by nationalists unconcerned with economy, elections coming in France and Germany, and rogue governments interested in further destabilisation of their ideological enemies (us).

Technological progress and competitive pressure created by relentlessly innovating big players is yet another worry. Multinational corporations are pressuring SMEs with their annual R&D budgets going into billions of dollars, and are developing technologies that will allow them to offer services at speed, cost and scale that many smaller companies will not be able to match.

Just one of the many examples comes from JPMorgan, who recently announced that they had automated 360,000 hours of highly skilled legal work with Artificial Intelligence algorithms that now perform it in mere seconds, while drastically reducing the rate of errors. Things like this happen when you have a cool $9.6 billion annual technology budget, and a smart vision to follow.

This is just the beginning of changes that will soon come knocking to our doors whether we like it or not. New innovations will disrupt and challenge most of us, and change the way business is done forever. In the face of such massive uncertainty we would be wise to be constantly asking ourselves and other around us if there is any way to change the odds in our favour, to ensure continued prosperity of our businesses.

The answer may seem counterintuitive, but is really simple. We have to take control of the changes (or at least as much of it as possible) into our hands, and shape the future in the way that is favourable to us, rather than being left to passively receive the changes brought about by the others. If anything holds the power to shape the future in such a way, it is innovation. When the whole world is moving quickly it takes much effort to even remain still, and much more to keep moving forward. This is definitely not the time to sit on the fence. This is the time to keep calm and carry on innovating.

But, you may be wondering, is innovation just for technology giants? Quite conversely, experience shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that successful innovation can be created by any company, applied to any industry, and introduced at any scale – today. We do not need to even look far to find examples of successful innovations and companies that relentlessly work towards their bold visions of securing future by becoming the leaders of their spaces. Some of them are even right here in Wales.

One example of such a company is Idwal Marine, specialists in ship inspections conducted globally on behalf of ship brokers, insurance clubs and commercial banks. They are based in Cardiff Bay, and have another office in Shanghai, with a network of hundreds of surveyors spread across the globe. The company launched the world’s first online ship inspections platform in the autumn of 2016. The platform generates instant quotations for ship inspections in thousands of ports around the planet. The aim of the system is to streamline the process of booking inspections, which triggers an automated internal workflow that leads to generation of a standardised high-quality report for the client.

The platform – designed and built by our Team at – has been very well received by the clients, including the most demanding and valuable banking sector. The benefits of this innovation are well expressed in the words of Nick Owens, Idwal Marine’s Director: “The results exceeded our expectations. Not only have we widened our client base, more efficiently addressing the needs of high-value market segments, but we also improved quality, maintained operational costs and healthy margins. The volume is growing constantly – we have never been so busy before – and this shall have a significant impact on this year’s figures.”

The above example shows that digital transformation, based on smart innovation, is within the reach of every company, in any market sector. Digital systems make it possible to address wider groups of customers with more relevant products and services that can be performed more efficiently and at larger scale – leading to better customer experience, reduced operational costs and higher profits.

Blue-sky innovations, such as, are the most dependable way to position ourselves as the market leaders of our carefully selected and highly profitable niches, drastically increasing the barriers to entry for our current and future competitors. Even more importantly, they allow us to be in the driving seat of – and vastly better prepared to respond to – the unavoidable technological, social and political changes that are happening today.

That is the true power of innovation.


Originally published on WalesBusiness.


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