Comdex: Euro will create e-business super state

A Comdex seminar on the Euro was told that despite short term problems for IT staff who have to deal with the twin headache of Y2K and Euro-compliance, the long term benefits could be very positive for e-businesses in Europe.

Intel's Ian Wilson, Director of Internet Marketing and E-commerce for Europe, said that the combined GDP of the principle European states was already higher than the US, and that Europe would emerge as the dominant economic zone.

But there are huge problems to overcome. Firms who wish to trade cross-border have to be able to handle dual pricing, conversion via the Euro, different tax regimes, and major price and cost differences across the continent -- all of which will still exist in 2002, the date set for phase out of local currencies.

TekTronix Operations Manager for Europe, Paul Allen, told the seminar that his firm had cracked the Euro, and had been praised by consultants Anderson Consulting for their detailed planning and preparation. Allen said he believed the that industry would benefit hugely. He noted that some of Europe's largest companes were amongst the most enthusiastic supporters for the Euro.

An indication of the work to be done by the IT staff was underlined by the observation that core software -- like Windows 98 and NT -- was not fully Euro compliant out of the box. In the case of Windows, for example, it is necessary to download the Euro font set from the Web. Printers, PCs and back-end systems all require attention in order to deliver Euro compliance.

The most difficult task for IT is dealing with billing, payments, and purchasing cross-border in real time with fluctuating exchange rates. But in the long run there are major cost savings. "This is going to make business easier in Europe, and there will be signifant savings in costs for those firms that get it right," said Allen.

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