ZDNet News Special: euro survival guide

It's hard to fathom getting 11 sovereign nations to agree on anything -- much less something as critical and emotionally charged as money. Boggles the mind that we're about to witness this historic shift in the European monetary system that comes with the euro's official debut Jan.

It's hard to fathom getting 11 sovereign nations to agree on anything -- much less something as critical and emotionally charged as money. Boggles the mind that we're about to witness this historic shift in the European monetary system that comes with the euro's official debut Jan. 1.

It could also boggle your company if you aren't prepared to deal with the conversion to a single European currency. I've seen estimates that the cost of converting a MIS system to accept the euro can run up to .5% of sales. There is still time, though. Between Jan. 1, 1999 and Jan. 1, 2002, companies can bill and receive payment in their old currencies -- or in euros. For now the euro will be a virtual currency; new notes and coins won't be introduced until 2002.

It's not just major corporations engaged in big-league international trade that should be making euro conversion plans. The euro opens new opportunities. Companies that seize them early will be viewed as euro-friendly market leaders. Combine a euro-savvy mindset with a killer e-commerce strategy... and you'll leave competitors in the dust. But perhaps I'm putting the cart before the horse. If you're not yet euro-savvy, get up to speed fast with my emergency euro preparedness kit:

Cashing in on the euro: The euro will trigger a wave of IT activity as companies scramble to update business systems. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? While the Y2K bug affects an estimated 36 million applications, the euro conversion comes in at around 12 million.

The euro and your software: Microsoft has a comprehensive resource guide Click here that includes a list of its products with euro features, a white paper on the challenges the euro poses for IT, a Q&A on using the new euro symbol -- and more. IBM, which earlier this month announced its Net.Commerce server supports the euro currency, has a euro page that includes an equipment check that details how the new currency affects specific business disciplines. Click here

Euro tools: The Help Channel has a number of font-related tips and FAQs regarding the euro. Click here Irrevocable conversion rates for the euro will be adopted today; the European Union posted a euro-calculator that will show the various currency conversion rates for the 11 participating countries. Click here

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