Main content

Brexit chaos - the business verdict from SAP Business ByDesign customers

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy March 21, 2019
Brexit overshadowed an SAP Business ByDesign partner event. Here's why.

A funny thing happened as I traveled towards InCloud Soluti0ns SAP Business ByDesign customer event in Birmingham, UK. I received an innocuous Tweet calling on me to sign a petition that calls upon the UK Government to revoke Article 50 - the clause in European Law which gives the country a get-out-of-EU card aka Brexit.

Clicking on the link I was surprised to discover that 450,000 plus people had signed the petition. As a committed Remainer, I duly signed the petition. But as I refreshed the page, I saw to my amazement the equivalent of a Las Vegas one-armed bandit tot up the score for those who had also signed.

The score jumped from 450,000 to 500,000 and beyond in short order. Hundreds, then thousands continued to add to the petitioner count. I was mesmerized by the real-time data. I've never seen anything like it before. And sure enough, the weight of those attempting to sign and/or view results brought the site to a grinding halt. Not once, not twice but multiple times.

According to Wired, which accurately reflected what I was seeing at the time:

Between 08:00 and 09:00 today, the petition was being shared on Twitter at a rate of 567 tweets and retweets a minute, according to Pulsar, an audience intelligence platform. It spread worldwide as a top trending topic on Twitter.

Such activity is rare and as I occasionally viewed the petitioning site during the morning I could but help be amazed at the speed at which petitioners were signing up.

At the event, Bob Atkinson, InCloud Solutions CEO said that Brexit was a significant drag on its ability to close deals during 2018. As I live-Tweeted the event:

This is the first time I have heard a representative from the enterprise software community talk so openly about the impact of Brexit on progress in the software sales arena. Software vendors usually demur on the topic.

The closest we come to a definitive statement on this topic goes back to 2017 when Stuart Lauchlan said:

...there has to be enormous potential for an uptick in business in the UK as Brexit approaches and the realisation dawns on ministers and officials of the scale of the systems rewriting that’s going to have to be done before the Brexit cut-off. The agility and speed-to-deployment of cloud technologies has to come to the fore here.

He adds:

As for post-Brexit Britain, Salesforce has made a significant investment in the UK, as well as in France and Germany, and there will inevitably be an impact on how it conducts business whatever form of EU exit occurs. For now, Block isn’t in a position to have a firm point of view:

It’s hard to tell. We have to follow the lead of what this thing turns out to be, if it really is a year from now or if it gets postponed. We’ve got a healthy business in the UK. We’ve got a strong business in Europe. We’ve got great customers, we’ve got great people. We have our eye on the ball, but at the end of the day we have to see what happens. Somehow we would find a way to work within the constraints of whatever comes out of this thing.

Each time there has been an earnings call in the last year or so and upon which we have had access to software vendor executives, we have asked the same question: 'What impact is Brexit having?' Each time, executives have been coy despite what we hear among customers: the answer is 'uncertain.'

Later in the event day, I asked about the Brexit impact from the representative of one company that trades foodstuffs internationally and uses commodity products in its global supply chain. She said that Brexit has been good for business in the sense that customers were stockpiling in anticipation of supply related issues. But she acknowledged there is considerable uncertainty about the forward demand position.

She, like many others, hopes there will be a swift resolution to the Brexit issue. But as the day progressed, there were no signs that interest in the issue, as evidenced by the speed at which the petition gained traction, going away.

By lunchtime, the petition had received more than a million votes. That represents approximately 100,000 votes per hour. back to Wired:

It is far and away the site’s most-signedcurrent petition, outstripping a request to ban Islamic State fighters from returning to the UK, which has around 582,000 signatures.

By the time I returned to base, the petition site was crashing at regular intervals and at one point I Tweeted:

Goodness knows how many would be petitioners gave up attempting to reach the site. Later in the evening, I was able to Tweet that:

As a side issue. the InCloud event covered SAP Business ByDesign's Making Tax Digital approach. For those unfamiliar, the UK Government has mandated that:

VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold are required to use the Making Tax Digital service to keep records digitally and use software to submit their VAT returns from 1 April 2019.

There is a certain yet wholly understandable irony that in the chaos surrounding Brexit, that a software vendor representative considers it important to devote a portion of its precious presentation time to this topic.

diginomica does not take overt political positions. It's not our place despite the fact several of our co-founders are politically active albeit at different places on the political spectrum. However, and on this occasion, I am prepared to go off-piste and declare that whatever the outcome of the Brexit debacle, software users are going to see one of either two stark scenarios: business as usual or utter legs and regs chaos. There is no middle ground.

At a time when the business landscape is shifting at a rapid pace, the uncertainties that Brexit creates makes it doubly difficult for enterprise software buyers to make sensible decisions. that was certainly the case for InCloud Solutions customers I randomly polled.

And on a personal note, when Brexit was voted upon, I remarked to colleagues that the UK had failed its political IQ Test. Today, and despite clear opposition to that lie larded vote, the UK Government as represented by Theresa May, confirms that the political class is wildly adrift from any sense of reality.

My hope is that businesses will remain pragmatic and continue to invest in solutions that not only keep them alive but also help them progress, In that sense, the SAP Business ByDesign roadmap is a beacon for optimism and I applaud the InCloud Solutions presentation team for showing a 'best foot forward' at a time when business leaders must be scratching their heads and wondering WTAF is going on.

As for the UK politicos? I hang my head in shame at the insanity of our so-called governing leadership and the message they send to the world. This country deserves far better.

PS - at the time of writing, the petition has received 2.3 million votes. For her part, PM Theresa May has chosen to ignore the ongoing plebiscite. Go figure how messed up UK politics has become the last couple of years.

A grey colored placeholder image