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1998-02-10 12:16:27


De Jager Warns: Businesses Still Don't Get It



Peter de Jager has sounded the warning . . . again. Businessmen still do not perceive the threat that faces them.

My comment: neither do those who are dependent on computer systems, i.e., about a billion or more Westerners and Urban Asians.

This was a Reuters story (Feb. 3). It is posted on C/Net.

* * * * * * *

DAVOS, Switzerland--Phone lines will crash, credit cards will read as expired, insurance policies will get lost, checks will bounce, and wages will be delayed--these are just some of the millennium bug disaster scenarios.

But according to leading industry expert Peter de Jager, most businesses have yet to act on the software problems that may bring chaos when computers' internal clocks roll into 2000 and fail to differentiate between the "00"s in 1900 and 2000. . . .

Almost anything to do with money--invoicing, purchasing, payroll systems--could be hit and huge amounts of data could be lost as computers crash or spew out wrong data in the new millennium, causing economic chaos around the world. . . .

"Time is running out to act. By the time we believe we're in a crisis situation, it may be too late," de Jager said in an interview on the sidelines of the Davos business summit. "If we lose the ability to make a phone call, then we lose everything. We lose electronic funds transfers, we lose trading, we lose branch-banking."

Banking and insurance industries are likely to take the worst hit, followed by telecommunications, de Jager said. Elsewhere, air control traffic systems may shut down, aircraft with date-dependent systems may be grounded, some airports or countries may become no-fly zones, and worldwide travel could be hit if the bug is not fixed, de Jager said. . . .

. . . "There's no way any company will get this right the first time. " . . .

"Lawyers are going to have a field day," de Jager said. Any other winners amidst this gloom and doom? "Computer programmers," said U.S. software giant Oracle president Raymond Lane, whose firm had 1,000 open slots for programmers waiting to be filled for the bug problem--among an estimated 200,000 open positions in the U.S. information technology industry. "It is very difficult to keep programmers nowadays. Salaries have gone up by 25 percent in the past year. These technical people could leave a job anywhere in the world and tomorrow start a new job somewhere else," he told Reuters.


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