It is difficult to go a day without becoming privy to inescapable ‘Brexit’ headlines. The critical decision made during last year’s UK referendum has certainly shifted the direction of the nation’s future and affected all individuals, businesses and government. When it comes to business, a shadow of uncertainty has been especially cast upon small businesses (SMBs) in particular, leaving owners with a sense of unpredictability and depleted confidence as to what the future holds for their businesses post-Brexit.
This is where the EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing comes into play – ostensibly a leaked document drawn up for the Department for Exiting the EU highlighting three of the most plausible Brexit scenarios. According to the document, Britain will be left worse off after Brexit, with financial services, manufacturing and retailing among the industries worst hit in all scenarios. This report would hold valuable information for SMBs that would allow them to better prepare for the post-Brexit landscape. However Brexit Minister Steve Baker argues the report is in too preliminary a stage to share in full without damaging the UK’s negotiations with the EU.
It is profoundly worrying that, what could be the most important data to understand Brexit implications, may not be available to businesses.
The ability to analyse the potential impact of an event like Brexit is the first step in building a strong defence plan but this is a privilege SMBs do not have. The implications will be detrimental to many SMBs who may struggle to survive under the new economic landscape Brexit will bring, forced to react quickly to changing demands and economic pressures. Instead of worrying about their negotiating position in Brussels, the Government needs to focus on equipping the country’s lifeblood – its small businesses, and the millions of people employed by them – with the support and information they need to make well-informed decisions over the next eighteen months.
But the issue of data democratisation is about more than access to information. Giving SMBs important data sets is the first step but it must go further. Rows and rows of numbers in a spreadsheet are useless unless a business has the ability to understand it, draw conclusions from it and make informed decisions through data analytics and visualisation.
True democratisation of data is universal access to data and the technology necessary to explore it. With Brexit on the horizon and businesses shrouded in uncertainty, it’s time that SMBs fight for the right to democratic data.