While many tech companies are concerned about Brexit’s impact, some are forging ahead.
Despite many unanswered questions about how U.S.-based tech companies will fare in the U.K. after the Brexit vote, Handshake Software, a SharePoint provider, recently announced a strategic partnership with U.K.-based Enable Business Solutions to expand its market presence into the U.K.
The partnership will allow Enable to resell, install and support Handshake’s products, including Handshake Universal Search, Portal, Expertise Locator and Extranet.
Glenn LaForce, senior VP and chief strategy officer for Handshake, said that the company had long been seeking an entry point into the U.K. market.
“The U.K. market is ripe for expansion. There’s a ton of firms over there we haven’t really been able to break into, and the reason is we haven’t been able to get a foothold. We looked around for a partner to be a reseller, implementer and first-level support,” LaForce noted.
According to LaForce, the market opportunities in the U.K. make the uncertainty around the Brexit vote a secondary consideration. “The fact that this happened doesn’t change the fact that the lawyers over there need the products to facilitate their business decisions and enable their practice,” LaForce said.
While the partnership is Handshake’s first official expansion into the U.K. market, LaForce says that the company is no stranger to the U.K.’s specific market needs.
“We already have a half-dozen U.K. clients, so the U.K. is nothing new to us. This will just help us more rapidly expand [our market],” LaForce said.
Though the two companies are confident about the partnership, experts differ around what U.S.-based companies seeking expansion into U.K. markets should expect. Both Vivek Krishnamurthy, instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, and Siegfried Fina, professor at Stanford Law School and University of Vienna Law School, suggested that the primary change from the Brexit vote is simply that companies need to consider that they may face multiple sets of regulations as they consider further expansion into Europe.
Others felt that concerns about the future of the EU and the strength of both U.K. and Euro currency could be more dire. Nicholas A. Ashford, director of the MIT Technology and Law Program, suggested that the EU could potentially fall apart altogether should “right-leaning governments hold their own referenda,” which could jeopardize use and stability of the Euro.
LaForce says that regardless of the long-term future of the U.K. and the European Union, the two companies should expect a fairly smooth transition into partnership in coming months.
“We have a few potential clients that we’re going to work on together. Mostly it’s just a co-marketing of Handshake in the U.K. with Enable, making sure their staff is up and running and ready to do a full implementation in support of our product,” he said. “There’s not a ton of ramp-up time because they’re already experts in SharePoint,” LaForce added.
Enable became an obvious choice for Handshake’s partnership because of their use of SharePoint technology in their current model. “It just seemed like a very natural fit. There’s a lot of synergy between their expertise and their relationships in the U.K. and what we’re trying to do over there with our product,” LaForce noted.
Liam Flanagan, CEO of Enable, agreed that the partnership between the two companies is an obvious step, given Enable’s prior work with SharePoint-based products. “As global firms continue to pursue a one-stop knowledge management solution anchored by a robust portal and search offering, proven technology providers like Handshake software are ideally positioned to meet this demand. At Enable, as the software authors of the popular SharePoint-based Enable PitchPerfect application, we obviously have a wealth of SharePoint expertise and experience that we believe will support Handshake’s global strategic goals,” Flanagan said in a statement. Flanagan also noted that he looks forward to the partnership. “Handshake Software is a market leader in providing SharePoint-based Portal, Search, Extranet, and expertise location solutions to the legal sector. We are very keen to share their offering with Enable’s customer and potential client base.”