In an age of instant communications it seems somewhat ironic that it took a letter to signal the start of the formal Brexit process. In fact that letter highlights just how far the world has come since the start of the European Union.
One of the reasons behind the original EU concept was the building of ties which would strengthen the relationship between European countries, thereby hopefully preventing another global conflict. Now we live in an era in which our ties have been forged on the internet, on instant communications and shared systems. At the touch of a button we can buy and sell goods and services not simply across Europe but across the world. We back up and work in the cloud, with systems potentially being hosted anywhere across the globe.
But how far have we really come? When you look back, 1973 was a momentous year. Not only did the UK, Denmark and Ireland join the EU; April 1973 saw the first handheld mobile call although it would be several years before it went into production. It was also the year in which the ethernet was invented and in which the first computer monitor (Xerox Alto) was released. As if that wasn’t enough engineers at CERN came up with the first touchscreen and IBM launched a device to read barcodes.
In other words, 1973 saw the seeds of a technological revolution which governs how we interact and trade today. And the key to modern business life is instant communication. Whether on landline or VoIP (phone calls on the internet), it is as easy to talk to a supplier or customer in another country as it is to one on the other side of the counter. Nowadays we take direct dial for granted; so much so that the expectation has arisen of an always-on, 24/7, service.
This in turn has forced businesses to examine their communication methodologies, seeking a work-life balance for their people which will maximise connectivity whilst providing times away from the telephone. Luckily the communications revolution has also provided solutions; with automatic telephone call redirection, transfers to virtual assistant services, and answerphone technologies coming to the rescue.
Another advantage of the telephone revolution is the fact that businesses no longer need to have a physical presence in an area in order to advertise with a local telephone number. If you’re based in UK but trading with France, Germany or any other country in Europe it’s a fairly straightforward matter to advertise a local telephone number, with calls to that number being seamlessly rooted to your nominated office. Advertising a Spanish number in Spain, an Italian number in Italy and so on can help to attract local custom whilst boosting international trade.
Over the next two years the detailed terms of Brexit will be negotiated over the dusty conference tables of Europe. In the meantime life goes on and for businesses that means staying connected with customers and suppliers across Europe, or indeed across the globe. Regardless of the final terms; over the time in which the UK has been a member of the EU, interconnected technology has created, and will continue to create, strong links for the benefit of all.