Sysmod's PraxIS

Managing reality in Information Systems - Strategies for Success

Systems Modelling Ltd. Issue Oct 2000 



Euro features

8th FEE Conference: Paris 13 - 14 November 2000.
Europapers published in September
Danes reject euro membership

Information Security

Discussion lists


Boo! - lessons learned
Dynamic pricing - how to save money at Amazon

Software Quality Events

EuroSPI ' 2000 European Software Process Improvement, Copenhagen
Software Productivity in a Changing World, Dublin

Cynics Unite

27 Web links in this newsletter

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This month, I have a lot of web links. To improve readability, I've put hyperlinks in the text and given the URL in full at the end. Let me know if this does not work for you. 

Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


Euro Features

8th FEE Conference: Paris 13 - 14 November 2000. [1]

Topics include:

The state of the preparation process from a European Commission perspective. Managing the supply chain changeover; How to avoid a 'big bang' changeover at 31-Dec-2001; Developing a Eurozone pricing policy: Euro conversion and IT migration experience; Will you be able to book an hotel room after 1-Jan-2002? ; euro project morale and contingency plans ; The euro and the audit process ; Banking concerns; Why database 'wrapping' is a dangerous IT solution; The cash changeover scenario and practical issues; The winners of the Eurotrophies competition. 

My presentation on "Thinking through the software facilities you really need for the changeover" will be on 14 Nov.

More Europapers published in September [2]

These are described in a short paragraph at 

Last update 1 September 2000

No.41 Communication from the Commission on practical aspects of the euro. State of play and tasks ahead

No.40 Conference Enterprises 2002. A round table on the practical impact on enterprises at the end of the transition period

No.39 What would happen to a company on 1 January 2002 that had not converted to the euro? Advice to managers and their advisers

No. 38 Communication from the Commission on communications strategy in the last phases of the completion of EMU

Euro Quiz Q's

Q1: When does the legal tender status of national notes & coins end?

Q2: When must a company stop invoicing in euro?

The answers are at Euro Quiz A's below

Danes reject euro membership

Denmark has turned its back on the euro and further EU integration. The referendum, coming at the end of a lengthy and fiercely fought campaign, resulted in 53 per cent of Danes declaring their determination to keep the krone against 47 per cent in favour of joining the euro. An EUBusiness report [3] suggests that although the Danish krone is linked to the euro within a 2.25% band, this rejection could cause flows of cash to Denmark that might strain the mechanism.

Nonetheless, the EU continues to look East. The Commission encourages candidate countries' companies to start preparing for the introduction of the Euro [4] "If companies in candidate countries feel that the Euro preparation is not a pressing issue, they are mistaken".

At home, the debate on EU enlargement has been stirred up the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands who broke ranks by questioning the effect of the EU on Irish culture [5]

The Irish Times European Diary comments on "a long-running Euro-sceptical tendency in the two Government parties" [6] and adds a caustic remark that EU environmental regulations are hampering the traditional despoilation of the countryside.

Euro Quiz A's

The date for the withdrawal of legal tender status of NCU notes and coins depends on the country. So far, the dates (reported in August 2000 Euro-Impact magazine) are:

Belgium     February 28, 2002
Germany     February 28, 2002, but DM not legal tender from December 31, 2001
Greece     February 28, 2002
Spain     February 28, 2002
France     Between mid- and end-February 2002
Ireland     February 9, 2002
Italy     February 28, 2002    (subject to confirmation)
Luxembourg     February 28, 2002
Netherlands     January 28, 2002
Austria     February 28, 2002
Portugal     February 28, 2002    (subject to confirmation)
Finland     February 28, 2002

The date a company must stop invoicing in euro is 1st January 2002. The European Commission has confirmed that "the euro is no longer divided into national currency units and legacy currency units cease to exist as units recognised by law." For further details, see the FEE website [7] 


Information Security

If you would like to follow a UK-based mail list discussing business risks with a particular focus on e-business, check out the E-Commerce Security Mail List [8]

Al Mcintyre, an active member of the ecommerce-discuss group on [9] has started a Tech Republic Discussion Thread [10]beginning with lists of links to security topics and web sites. 


EUbusiness online discussion [11]

"e-Europe - preparing for the digital economy". Wednesday October 12th at 16.30 CET, 15.30 BST

The workshop will examine the barriers that are holding back the uptake of digital technologies, and how the EU can help create a "digitally literate and entrepreneurial Europe". Special focus will be on the programme's priority areas of accelerating e-commerce, smart cards for secure electronic access and risk capital for high-tech SMEs.

You can learn about projects and initiatives for SMEs supported by the European Commission and European Policies related to Electronic Commerce at the ISPO web site [12].


An ex-employee of takes " a look at what went right and what went wrong with the company and go into more details as to what we should learn from that failure" in an article " Goes Bust" [13] The key lessons are:


On Sep 9th, I checked on a book at and was quoted 17.75. I checked again on Sep 13th and saw list price 27.99 only. Curious about this, I emailed Amazon and got the usual "Please note that prices in our catalogue are subject to change." I then saw this 11 September report at "Loyalty With Amazon Does Not Pay?" [14]

"Regular users found that by making small adjustments to their computers and fooling cookies into believing they were first time visitors, they could get larger discounts on products, fuelling their belief that Amazon are offering more attractive pricing to first time users."

I then realised I had been tested by Amazon on how much I was willing to spend. This is not new, traders throughout history have sought for the best price the market will bear. Airlines are constantly repricing their tickets to meet demand. In well-off neighborhoods, for example, department stores often charge more for the same goods than in outlets in poorer areas. Dynamic pricing has been the subject of much study by Management Science / Operational Research modellers. 

For a simple online, real-time example, check out the secure server for the ebook "Make your price sell". [15]

That site openly shows you how the price is dropping, Dutch auction style. Until a sale is made, then it goes up again. You can place an order at a low price, in case it reaches that price. Of course, knowing that, it would not be beyond imagination that they could put in some random rises just to give the impression of frequent sales and put pressure on the susceptible viewer.

IQPC have a conference on this very topic: Dynamic Pricing for E-Business [16] November 7 - 8, 2000 London, UK

CFO Magazine [17] have covered it too:

"Even in the dot-com world, which seemed to regard black ink as hopelessly passé, positive cash flow is no longer deemed irrelevant to success.

Pioneered in the airline and hotel industries, where the specter of empty seats and rooms has inspired baroque systems of discounts and pricing policies, revenue management can apply to almost any business, its proponents claim."

However, knowledge is power. Once people know the rules of the game, they can play the game. This takes second-guessing to the limit. The Northern Light Library article The Seller's Instant Net Advantage [18] says:

"Remember the uproar when former Coca-Cola CEO Doug Ivester mentioned that the company was looking into vending machines that could automatically raise the price whenever the weather got hot?"

To return to the Amazon story, the New York Times reported recently "Pricing Errors Hurting" [19]

With the virulent reaction of Internet-savvy customers and's rapid decision to drop what it called "random-pricing tests," other online retailers will now think twice before offering different prices to different customers.

"With popular sites like Amazon, you really can't get much past the consumers anymore," said Tom Wyman, electronic commerce analyst for J.P. Morgan. "They're out there trading notes all the time, looking for the best deals."

Nevertheless, because of the consumer outcry, ended up refunding 6,896 customers an average of $3.

So it's just as well I waited another couple of weeks to find the price back down to 18.50.

Project Management Proverbs [20]

Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.

You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.

Software Quality Events

EuroSPI ' 2000 Conference European Software Process Improvement. [21] Theme 2000: Practical and Innovation Based Software Process Improvement to Prepare for the New Millennium. 7. - 9. November 2000, Copenhagen Business School (Handelshojskolen)

Among the many tutorials is T2 : "PIPSI" - Process for Improving Programming Skills in Industry, IVF (Sweden) and Gerry Coleman from IPSSI Consortium. And Session 5 covers "SPI and Personal Processes"

For more information, e-mail EuroSPI(at)bigfoot(dot)com 

Software Productivity in a Changing World [22]

Tuesday 14th November 2000 Great Southern Hotel, Dublin Airport.  eXtreme programming (XP) guru Kent Beck will be presenting "Fred Taylor, Making Software, and Conversation".

Issue 13, of the CSE's Software in focus magazine [23] has Kent Beck's article "Safe at the Extremes". You can find more on Donovan Wells' web site [24]  


An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible. - Alfred A. Knopf


In my article in the Sept 27 Cutter IT Journal Email Advisor [25] on "Debugging language", I give a number of web links to cynical web sites that cast a jaundiced eye on the hype in the IT world. My pick this month are the "Cynical CIO" [26] newsletter from the Gadwall Group and "Taunt of the Cybersquatter" [27] 































Patrick O'Beirne

Copyright 2000 Systems Modelling Limited, http// Reproduction allowed provided the report is copied in its entirety and with this copyright notice.



"Praxis" means model or example, from the Greek verb "to do". The name is chosen to reflect our focus on practical solutions to IS problems, avoiding hype. If you like acronyms, think of it as "Patrick's reports and analysis across Information Systems".

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