A UK parliamentary IT lobby group has advised the government to help companies move swiftly to simple Euro compliant IT systems regardless of any decision on joining European Monetary Union.
Philip Virgo, secretary general of Eurim, said the government "should plan large scale training and assistance programmes to help small firms move direct to Euro compliant, multicurrency, ecommerce enabled systems in the aftermath of Year 2000, without waiting for any decision on entry."
He believes companies should plan for early conversion to these systems as Internet transactions in the European Union are more likely to be undertaken in dollars than domestic currencies - let alone euros - and the proportion of such dollar based transactions is increasing.
"UK companies should take the opportunity of the downturn in demand for IT skills after Year 2000 and move fast to a simple global ecommerce system while they can get the people to do it, before demand increases again for euro compliancy work," he warned.
He added: "Low cost, unambitious systems with rapid payback is the way forward. The climate is rotten for big systems. However, companies should be able to spot an opportunity with this prototype approach and grab it fast. Unless and until the Commission gets its act together in promoting pan European ecommerce, dollars will dominate."
But Nick Jones, research director at the Gartner Group, believes this view is too simplistic: "Ecommerce is not necessarily bound up with the euro or dollar. It is independent of the euro and whether Britain is going in or out."
He added: "The question to ask before deciding on a system is who are my customers, where are they and what will they pay me in. How you convert should be determined by your business requirements."
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