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Y2K: Prepared Or Compliant?

By John Howard

With less that 90 to go before Year 2000, a new poll reveals fifty-six percent of corporate leaders from US companies operating in the global market, plan to put aside nine days of food and withdraw ten days worth of cash in anticipation of y2k computer date-rollover problems. John Howard reports.

In New Zealand, government's Kenny cockroach tells us three days worth of food and cash is sufficient.

A follow up to a June poll conducted by the respected Chief Information Officer Magazine (CIO), ISACA and Dr. Ed Yardeni, Managing Director of Duetchse Bank and head of the Y2k Centre, exposes corporate ill-preparedness, complacency and misplaced vendor trust over y2k.

The poll reveals eighty-one percent of large companies operating in the global environment are not yet ready for y2k. Moreover, forty-three percent now predict completion dates will move up to and beyond the fourth quarter of 1999. This is a significant increase from the twenty-seven percent since the June poll. Sixty-nine percent are simply sending out questionnaires to vendors with no on-site inspections, while twenty-three percent are still waiting for y2k compliant mission-critical software from thrid-party suppliers. Legal liability issues concern fifty-nine percent.

In spite of the fact that 81% admit their organisations are not ready for the date-rollover today, 91% are still optimistic.

Dr Yardeni said, " I am puzzled that information technology professionals are so optimistic about the impact of y2k on their organisations. Many of them are not ready yet. They are clearly expecting a victorious outcome, which may be raising complacency levels so high that people will not prepare for any possible malfunctions and failures."

Meanwhile, California State Governor, Gray Davis, signed a law Wednesday requiring financial institutions to reimburse their customers for any fees, charges or penalities that result from the bank's y2k computer glitches. And the US Coast-Guard is stopping ships entering ports who cannot prove y2k compliance. All State government's have released contingency plans to citizens where they can go to seek food, shelter and help if required. The police, national guard and military will be on stand-by with all leave cancelled.

What concerns me in New Zealand is that the public has been told on five seperate occassions that deadlines would be met and that problems would be fixed. Each time the deadlines came and went.

Those dates were 30 September 1998 - 31 December 1998 - 31 March 1999 - 30 June 1999 - and 30 September 1999.

Where is the trample of news reporters demanding, in the public interest, proof from industry and government. Y2k ready is not y2k compliant. The 31 December 1998 target was for y2k compliance with a full year for testing - now it is y2k ready which means nothing more than we will fix-on-failure.

Clearly, there has been a redefintion of the goal. This has been accompanied by massive cost increases worldwide that show, beyond doubt, that people in charge really had no idea what they had their hands on. What is concerning is that by 31 December 1999, project goals will be so low that everybody will be able to claim they met them. Everybody will have achieved y2k-something and, therefore, any problems that do appear are certainly "not our fault."

Over the last 30 years the world has developed complex, inter-related computer systems without any adult supervision, audit or standards. And that's the reason why even my new Windows 98 fails. It's time for some standards.


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