At long last today is Brexit Day. While this is a great event if you are a nationalist populist who believes that large supranational governmental structures hobble individual national potential, it is also a sad day for the European Union and all of the unity that it stands for. The trend of integration is going in reverse and other nations might follow suit. One of the most successful peace-making agreements in the history of the world could unravel.
The digital revolution is the lubricant of modern globalization, so even if it takes a bit longer to go through immigration on the Eurostar, a lot of things should stay the same, right? Right?
Probably not. There are very real impacts on global digital marketers which will start to become apparent as details of the split start to have an impact on operations. Here are a list of things to look out for:
- Data privacy will take a different form in the UK. The GDPR that covered the EU and, formerly, Britain, is now no longer applicable there. Good news for international sites that never got their act together. Bad news for businesses who will have to probably adapt (again) to the British exception which will cost businesses extra overhead to do business with Brits.
- E-commerce will be impacted. New customs agreements are going to have to be put in place with each country and economic bloc individually. For Trump’s Doppelganger, this is a chance to forge new deals. But for most businesses this is going to mean a pain the ass – either British businesses selling outside of the island or continental businesses trying to get their products in. As I work on fragrance brands we are controlled like drinking alcohol, so we need to see how this will shake out, what it means for customers and product availability and our distribution strategies
- Available labor: Britain profited from a huge influx of citizens from Eastern European countries who came to work and build a life in the UK. A lot of these citizens work in technology. If many of them have to leave because they no longer can live easily across the Channel, that could have a big impact on productivity in the tech sector. The flipside is that a lot of these educated, talented immigrants will probably not make the journey home but rather come to places like Paris or Berlin that will benefit from their abilities and savoir faire.
In the long run it’s impossible to tell if the UK will come out looking better or worse, but in the short term there is going to be a lot of uncomfortable adjustments that will creep up on us. Be on the look out for them!