Ebby Adhami, Michael Thornley, and Malcolm McKenzie
The formation of the single European market (SEM) will create a new business environment in Europe. The competitiveness and, indeed, the survival of many United Kingdom businesses depends on how well they understand and react to the threats and opportunities presented by opening up Europe and associated industry restructuring. Expertise in single-market issues and legislation is scarce and expensive, making it difficult for many organizations to obtain. In addition, the recession has prompted many organizations, particularly the smaller ones, to concentrate their efforts on improving short-term profitability. Most of these organizations cannot afford the resources needed to assess the impact of SEM on their business. This chapter describes pharos, an expert system designed to assess the impact of SEM legislation on businesses in the United Kingdom. pharos was developed by National Westminster Bank (NatWest) and Ernst & Young Management Consultants. It will be used by 70,000 medium-sized businesses, resulting in millions of pounds of savings for the United Kingdom business community yet offering the bank a competitive advantage. This section discusses the importance of SEM. This importance is assessed in relation to business in the United Kingdom in general and NatWest in particular. How pharos was conceived is also discussed.