Corrections or additions?
These articles by Melinda Sherwood and Barbara Fox were published
in U.S. 1 on September 22, 1999. All rights reserved.
One Currency, Many Opportunities
Some feared the introduction of the Euro on January
1 would pose a serious challenge to the almighty dollar and create
an upset on the scale of Y2K. But other American companies are finding
new opportunities made possible by the unified currency, which until
2002 is only visible on bank statements and in check form. "It
might have been to get your parts from Italy, but tomorrow it may
be a good deal to get parts from Spain," says Bob Orr
partner in the information industries practice at PA Consulting Group,
the management systems and technology consultancy based at 315
Drive. "The key is how to take advantage of price transparency
and new markets."
Learn about opportunities for American companies from Euro experts,
Orr included, at the Princeton Chamber’s panel on Thursday, September
30, at 8 a.m. at the Sarnoff Corporation at 201 Washington Road.
Clingham of Galaxis USA LTD;
a market and sales consultant for Europe, the Middle East, Africa
and the Indian Subcontinent; Stephen Stambaugh
president and director of First Union’s International Corporate Group;
partner, Gallagher Briody & Butler, each give their perspectives.
Cost: $40. Call 609-520-1776.
Orr, who specializes in matters of finance in multinational companies,
reports that the Euro has had an almost Y2K-like impact on clients’
information systems, accounting, and reporting. One client, he says,
had more than 1,000 different information systems and interfaces that
needed to be modified for currency denomination units. "Just about
every fundamental business process," says Orr, "from managing
customer revenue, to supply chain, to sales and marketing, had to
be fairly fundamentally reengineered."
Orr graduated from Rice University, with a BA in economics and
science, Class of 1971, and lives with his wife and four children
in South Orange. Prior to joining PA Consulting Group, a 2,700 person
organization with over 50 offices in 20 countries, Orr worked for
Andersen Consulting, KPMG, and Morgan Stanley.
The good news about the Euro, says Orr, is that cheaper goods and
new markets will be visible to the naked eye when businesses don’t
have to translate currency values. "The Euro has changed the
in terms of where you manufacture things, where you add value in its
development, and where you might locate offices," he says.
companies were very good at taking advantage of differences in pricing
across borders, so a product in Spain might be relatively cheaper
than a product in France, and someone in procurement could cut costs
out of the project." That could mean more American companies in
the mix. "You’re going to see a lot of increased competition
there’s always been a barrier to entrance," says Orr.
Some of the opportunities for new and existing business to jump on
between now and January 1, 2002, when the Euro will be issued in paper
notes and coins:
price transparency, says Orr, to significantly reduce the cost of
your product, there may be markets there that weren’t available before
because of your price structure. New markets may also open up around
your new production location.
agreements are tied to currency rates, so companies may be sourcing
from many different companies. The stability of the Euro will give
a company more confidence to streamline purchasing arrangements and
set up longer contracts.
it easier to look for new sources of raw materials across borders.
rather than less, for imported goods? Right now the jury is still
out, says Orr. "Companies are really starting to pay attention
to this right now," he says. "We won’t have the real war
for a while. But things don’t have to be complete until 2002. I don’t
know if there’s a bible on it yet."
— Melinda Sherwood
Last week the White House decreed that United States
firms could export its most powerful encryption techniques, and in
so doing it nosed ahead of Congress in the race to curry favor with
technology companies. This controversy over how strong encryption
should be — and whether United States-based companies could sell
strong encryption codes overseas — has created some strange
explains Simon Singh
The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary, Queen of Scots, to Quantum
new from Doubleday ($34.95)
In this volume Singh illuminates the timely subject of encryption,
revealing its contributions to linguistics and computation as well
as its dramatic effects on the outcome of wars, monarchies, and
lives. His earlier book, "Fermat’s Last Theorem," was
praised for its lively presentation of what could be a dull (for most)
mathematical subject, and he attracted a standing room only crowd
at a reading in Princeton then. Singh speaks and signs his book at
the Princeton University Store at 36 University Place on Thursday,
September 23, at 6:30 p.m. Call 609-921-8500.
Singh is the particle physicist from the University of Cambridge who
co-produced and directed the BBC documentary on Fermat’s theorem.
In the story about Fermat’s Theorem he offered mathematical history
from Pythagoras through Turing, but always focused on the drama,
it to a climax when Princeton University mathematics professor
Wiles announced in 1993 that he had a long-awaited proof for the
Turning his attention to cryptographic freedom, he writes that it
would allow everyone, even criminals, to be assured that their
E-mails are secure. "On the other hand, restricting the use of
cryptography would allow the police to spy on criminals, but it would
also allow the police and everybody else to spy on the average
Those against the exportation of encryption devices include the
Security Agency, which operates a worldwide network of listening
including Echelon, which indiscriminately harvests information by
using receivers that detect the telecommunications that bounce off
Those in favor of encryption are the Center for Democracy and
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, civil libertarians, and
that want to enhance E-commerce and store information on databases.
"Probably the greatest infringement of everybody’s privacy is
the international Echelon program," writes Singh. "Whereas
law enforcers argue that encryption should be banned because it would
make Echelon ineffective, the civil libertarians argues that
is necessary exactly because it would make Echelon ineffective."
Singh suggests a middle way between cryptographic freedom and
key escrow, comparable to having two keys to open a safe deposit box.
For instance, the government could store two halves of a computer
chip in separate facilities for use only in emergencies. Another way
is for a certification authority, such as a company called Verisign,
to verify that a public key does correspond to a particular person.
Certification authorities can also guarantee the validity of digital
signatures, as when President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern digitally signed a communique in Dublin.
A more controversial service, known as key recovery, can be provided
by a Trusted Third Party (TTP). "Imagine a legal firm that
all its vital documents by encrypting them with its own public key,
so that only it can decrypt them with its own private key. Such a
system is an effective measure against hackers and anybody else who
might attempt to steal information. However, what happens if the
who stores the private key forgets it, absconds with it, or is knocked
over by a bus? Governments are encouraging the formation of TTPs to
keep copies of all keys. A company that loses its private key would
then be able to recover it by approaching its TTP.
"Some argue that TTPs are effectively a reincarnation of key
and that law enforcers would be tempted to bully TTPs into giving
up a client’s keys during a police investigation. Others maintain
that TTPs are a necessary part of a sensible public key
He predicts that "in the near future the pro-encryption lobby
will initially win the argument, mainly because no country will want
to have encryption laws that prohibit E-commerce. However, if this
policy does turn out to be a mistake, then it will always be possible
to reverse the laws. The deciding factor will be whom the public fears
the most — criminals or the government."
Broken codes have won wars and lost lives, and Singh is fully up to
the task of investing each of these tales with all the drama due.
Mary Queen of Scots, says Singh, wrote to her conspirator freely
she believed the code could not be broken. She was wrong.
He tells of 420 Navajo "code talkers" who passed messages
that the Japanese never were able to decode. They passed 800 messages,
all without error, during the first days of attack on Iwo Jima, and
military experts say that the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima
without the Navajos’ help.
Singh’s ultimate drama will be his announcement about who broke the
15-page code puzzle included in "The Code Book," The winner
will receive $15,000, and if the prize has not been claimed in one
year, it will be awarded to the person who has made the most progress
soonest. Progress will be tracked at
Perhaps Singh will drop a few tips at his book signing.
— Barbara Fox
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