Yesterday at the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum in London I had the opportunity to address the audience with a 10 mins piece in the euro crisis and its ramifications for IT, followed by a full session for a smaller audience.
During the general session I asked how many of the attendees (over 200 CIOs from commercial and government organizations in Europe) worked for enterprises that had plans in place to deal with the euro crisis. Less than ten people raised their hands.
If this is not scary enough after the in-depth session on the euro I was approached by two attendees.
The first one, from a government organization, agreed that the impact of some euro crisis scenarios on immigration would be massive, including on IT systems, but he was not aware that his organization, which is indeed responsible for the immigration portfolio, was planning anything.
The second one, from a pension fund, mentioned that the potential redenomination of long-term assets (such as government or company bonds) which had already been redenominated from the original national currency into the euro might be a nightmare: in fact, if defaulting countries return to the original currency, with the same currency code, but with a value that is different from the original conversion rate and that fluctuates rather freely against the euro, the valuation of those assets become very difficult and of course prone to litigation.
Other questions during the session included the likely timetable for a possible conversion, who would be deciding it, how quickly it would happen. There is no answer to this question, as the eventuality of a country dropping off the euro was not even considered when the monetary union was designed. But it is likely that the transition will be quite fast, despite the time required to physically replace euro notes and coins with the new currency, and the time needed to adapt information systems. This clearly makes the scenarios even more complex.
These are just few of the many issues that businesses and governments may have to face to deal with a euro crisis. The low readiness and state of denial that we keep observing is hard to justify.
For our research on the euro look at the list at the end of this post.