No-one can now be unaware of the likely adverse effects on computer systems when they are confronted with dates beyond 31 December 1999. This rather absurd problem has the potential to cause extraordinary disruption unless organisations relying on IT systems and computer-based control systems take it seriously. Many are already doing so.
Prudent organisations are taking an inventory of all systems vulnerable to date-related problems, fixing them by replacing or upgrading software or hardware and then testing the systems with post-millennial dates. They are also preparing for others in their supply chain, who might not be as prescient, by writing to ask for assurances about their ability to continue to trade. In short, these organisations are taking a defensive posture about a known and well-flagged threat.
Those who are doing nothing will suffer problems ranging from the mildly inconvenient such as odd errors on spreadsheets, through the embarrassing, such as charging customers for 100 years of service, to the catastrophic, where production lines stop, supply contracts cannot be fulfilled, and businesses fail.
If you are doing nothing, you must take responsibility for your own destiny and tackle this potential nightmare with urgency. If you are not sure where to start, contact the Action 2000 hotline on 0845 601 2000. Even if you are well down the track with your Year 2000 programmes, there is no time for complacency - 'defensive project management' demands that you push and push to get the work done. Entering 1999 feeling confident of having more than one year left to conduct business has to be the sensible, prudent thing to do. Go to it.
Rob Wirszycz is marketing and strategy director of EDS UK. 0181 535 3200.