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1998-03-20 23:54:54


High Tech Industry is Y2K-Silent. No Leadership



Prof. Leon Kappelman of the University of North Texas warns that the absence of public concern shown by the Information Technology (IT) industry has lulled the politicians and the public into a sense of security.

His point is easy to understand: if the experts do not seem to be concerned, why should anyone else be?

He reports that half of 200 companies representing 10% of the gross domestic product of the United States have not gone beyond the planning stage -- no implementation.

This is from INFORMATION WEEK (March 16).

* * * * * * *

Every IS professional knows that projects without visible support and commitment from top management have greatly diminished prospects for success. Besides lots of empirical and anecdotal evidence, it's almost one of those self-evident "truths":Ask yourself -- if it's not important to your boss, is it important to you? If this "truth" applies to the year 2000 problem, then the current absence of top management leadership bodes ill for the success of global year 2000 efforts. . . .

Sadly, the leadership of the IT industry has been mostly silent when it comes to the year 2000. Oh sure, companies are selling products and services to help their customers deal with the problem. But to the best of my knowledge, not one leader of a top-tier IT company has said anything publically about the importance of global year 2000 efforts. It's no wonder that at least 25% of their top management peers in other industries aren't taking the problem seriously when Bill Gates, Lou Gerstner, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, and all the rest are tight-lipped about it.

Until the high-tech industry acknowledges the seriousness of the problem it created, the public won't really acknowledge the problem, either. And if the public doesn't get it, then the government surely won't get it.

An upcoming study by the Society for Information Management's Year 2000 Working Group, which I co-chair, examined nearly 200 enterprises representing more than 10% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Less than half of these projects are beyond the planning stage and are actually being implemented. This, despite the fact that the year 2000 project directors in these same enterprises estimate that more than 70% of the project lies ahead after plans are completed. . . .

What will it take to change this? I don't know. I just hope it comes in time.


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