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1998-01-23 20:27:53


International Association of IT Professionals Sounds Warning



This warning from the World Information Technology and Services Alliance removes the y2k issue from "consultants' hype" to the real world. Those wilfully blind critics who are deep in denial love to yell, "It's all hype," or "it's a promotion scheme by software consultants." This report is from the industry that hires the consultants and has to pay for implementing their recommendations. These people have no vested interest in spending billions on y2k repairs instead of technology updates. What they say is deadly serious.

This appears on the Web site of the British Computing Services & Software Association (CSSA).

* * * * * * *

The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), the global public policy body comprised of 25 national information technology (IT) industry representative bodies, believes that governments and international organizations worldwide must immediately address the very serious threat posed to both individual nations and the global economy by computer processing problems resulting from the advent of the Year 2000. The Year 2000 computer problem is the single biggest challenge facing the IT industry since the first computer became operational 51 years ago. . . .

While the problem is easy to understand and can seem almost trivial, it is extremely dangerous to underestimate the scale of action needed to correct it, due to the vast number of times dates are used in computer systems. For example, incorrect date processing will mean businesses will be unable to process orders, dispatch invoices, calculate payments, process transactions and so on. Government may not be able to issue checks, calculate tax returns, or produce forward looking budgets. In addition, computers are built into different types of equipment such as elevators, automobiles, and appliances which have date processing functions, and which may become inoperable with unpredictable results. The problem is so pervasive that it has the potential to disrupt severely not only individual businesses, but whole economies. This is compounded by the fact that almost all computer-based systems worldwide are affected with this problem at the same time. And the date by which solutions must be found is immutable. . . .

Time is running out to deal with this challenge. While the problem is frequently stated as the ‘Year 2000 Problem’, most organizations will be affected before 2000 due to the need to both plan and transact business on advance dates through the century change. Many long-range systems have already been affected. This means that the fix must be completed well before the end of 1999. It is also important to understand that a major element of the fix—an estimated 40-60% of the time and cost—involves testing of systems once they have been converted to correctly process dates in the 21st century. Testing programs that involve millions or even hundreds of millions of lines of computer code both operating alone and in conjunction with many external computer programs is extremely time consuming, yet critical to success. . . .

While organisations and Governments are increasingly aware of the issue, they are, in the opinion of the world IT industry, not treating the Year 2000 problem with the urgency it requires. As the problem is simply stated it is assumed that it is simply fixed. It is not. We live in an automated information technology world with inter-linked and interdependent systems on a global scale with the continued operation of such systems threatened by this problem. . . .

It is therefore not an insuperable challenge, but one that without commitment from the highest levels could lead to economic and social disruption throughout the world. We urge national governments to escalate action now to avoid these unwanted conditions.


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