Y2K eclipses Europe's single currency IT issues: IDC

The millennium crisis is threatening to eclipse issues associated with arrival of a single European currency, according to market analyst IDC (International Data Corp).

The European Monetary Union (EMU) project has been clouded by uncertainty almost since its inception, leaving IT companies and their customers unwilling -- or unable -- to adopt measures to smooth its arrival, according to IDC's research bulletin, "Setting the scene for the 1998 European IT market".

The European Union is expected to announce in March the list of countries considered ready to join the EMU project, while the currency itself is slated for implementation in January 1999.

"We are now on the edge of going operational with EMU and still some basic elements of accounting practice have yet to be ironed out," analysts at IDC's European IT Market Perspectives group report in the bulletin.

"The accounting software companies have done what they can for customers, but we think there is still a great deal of work to be done."

When the single currency is up and running -- and assuming it proves stable -- most countries will be glad they are freed from currency fluctuations within Europe, the bulletin says.

But unless banks and companies install the correct infrastructure requirements such economic benefits will remain academic, the report says.

The arrival of 1998 might "make something click" in the minds of IT directors, and spur them to address EMU, along with the real issues surrounding the arrival of 2000, IDC says in the bulletin. Because year 2000 is a maintenance issue, and involves investing capital that will not drive revenue growth, companies have been even less willing to face up to the issue, the report adds.

The report also notes that skilled technicians are charging high prices for their services to help companies address both year 2000 and EMU issues. While blue chip companies can afford to pay for such services, "who will take care of the little guys?" the bulletin asks.

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