In London, ESG's Steve Duplessie and Senior IT Veteran Stephen O'Donnell discuss IT Transformation and the expected business impact of BREXIT in Western Europe.
Steve: Hey there. I'm Steve Duplessie and happy to be joined by by a long-time IT industry veteran and rockstar, Steve O'Donnell. How are you doing, Stephen?
Stephen: I'm doing really well, Steve. How are you?
Steve: Fantastic. I'm having a great time here in London, puttering around Europe and finding some interesting folk to talk to about what's going on, specifically in Western Europe, when it comes to all things IT. So what have you been focused on recently?
Stephen: Okay, mainly digitizing businesses. You know, you might that think the whole world's gone digital already, with Uber and Amazon and stuff, but actually...
Steve: Not everybody?
Stephen: No. Not even close, okay. So whole swaths of industry are still pushing quill pens and bits of paper around, slightly modifying spreadsheets getting stuff that's straight through. It's really differentiating businesses.
Steve: Who do you see over here being kind of laggards in this area?
Stephen: The insurance industry, the banking industry. Yeah, financial services is pretty slow behind the scenes, although some of the modern fintech businesses are beginning to innovate. They are offering straight-through type processing and making a big difference.
Steve: That's interesting because I think in North America, the financial services companies tend to be leaders in digital transformation, but here you're saying they just haven't quite caught up yet.
Stephen: Well, I'm not even sure that's true in North America, Steve, because a lot of the back end systems are really legacy. They're running on old IBM mainframes. What you might find is that to the sort of front end sliver of customer-facing stuff is highly digital but the back end is still really slow. And that's why it takes a long time for things to happen.
Steve: So that's job security.
Stephen: Maybe, maybe so.
Steve: What's the latest with Brexit? How do you think that's going to affect things here?
Stephen: Brexit's going to come out one of two ways. They're either going to crash out with no deal at all, which means utter chaos for supply chains and for financial services, technology services. London is pretty much the center of the financial services industry, globally, so that's really going to screw things up.
And it's also going to screw up a whole lot of the professional services, so guys like me that need to go to Amsterdam or France to go and fix something, we won't be able to do that anymore just quite so easily. So that's going to make it very, very difficult. The other option is it's not going to happen at all.
Steve: And, if you're a betting man, what do you think?
Stephen: Well, I'm a betting man. I'm betting that it won't happen. And I think it won't happen, even though the guy who's lined up to be the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, says he wants to crash out, there's no majority in Parliament to support that. And Parliament will stop it.
And I think that we'll get Article 50 thrown out, which is the article to come out of the EU.
Steve: So a little bit more specifically, if it crashes out, what's the chain of events in terms of... from a systems perspective, what won't banks or companies or whatever be able to do that are going to cause chaos?
Stephen: Okay, well all of the hosting-type industries in the UK will no longer be part of the safe harbor that is Europe, so European companies wanting to put their data in the UK are unlikely to want to do that and they're going to pull it out. We're going to find that large numbers of European Nationals working in the UK will have to leave because they no longer have the right to reside and work here.
And equally, vast numbers of UK citizens will have to leave Europe and come back to the UK. So it's going to be chaos. There will be massive unemployment, and massive commercial implications, right across the whole industry.