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1998-04-07 07:54:47


70% of Businesses in Asia Will Fail, Says Y2K Expert



This appeared in the BANGKOK POST (Feb. 4).

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Upwards of 70% of businesses in Asia will either fail outright or experience severe hardship because of the Year 2000 Problem (Y2K), according to Unisys Y2K expert Phillip Dodd, who was in town last week to participate in the Y2K Fair staged by Nectec. During an interview, Mr Dodd said there would be massive social implications - severe unemployment, social unrest, businesses failing left and right. "The current Asian currency crisis will look like a holiday in comparison," he said. He went on to explain that reaction to the Y2K Problem was very much like a person's reaction when someone dies, citing the famous research done by Clinical Oncologist Dr Kublai Ross, who outlined the stages of grief. "At first there's denial," he said, outlining the stages. "Then there's anger, panic, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance." . . .

He also pointed out that his experience, working with large multinationals trying to tackle this problem, had shown him that "inertia" often follows the stages of grief, and that this inertia is dangerous business indeed. The inertia comes about when a company or government realises the extent of the problem, and begins to fix it. They begin to see the enormous costs involved, and how everything must be laid aside to tackle the problem. But, business must go on. The Y2K Problem becomes one of many facing a government or business: there are competitors to worry about, profit margins to maintain, day-to-day worries to entertain. The Y2K Problem may appear so overwhelming that tackling it appears hopeless. . . .

Globalisation is the real problem: business and governments the world over are so intertwined and interconnected that when one experiences difficulties, the others suffer as well - as demonstrated only too well by the currency crisis. Consequently, when the new millennium dawns, and when businesses and governments stumble or fail, it will have a knockdown effect worldwide. Complicating this is the fact that, "This is the only time in human history when everyone everywhere has had to do the same thing at the same time" - and there are simply not enough skills and resources to go around. . . .

He said people who believed the Y2K Problem was a minor matter were "suffering from denial. And they'll probably be the first to complain when their electricity fails, when they can't get money from an ATM machine." . . . What will be the impact of the Y2K Problem? "We're going to start seeing the impact long before January 1, 2000 arrives. Government services will be compromised. There will be utilities problems - electricity, water. Distribution systems will be impacted - getting goods and services from one place to another. Transportation will be impacted - including air traffic control systems, and GPS (global positioning satellite) systems. Airlines won't fly to certain places. Insurance coverage? Who knows? Telecommunications will be disrupted. How long can a company go on without cashflow? Electricity will be easily disrupted." . . .

He noted how those in IT departments wanted to "save face" - and consequently, when asked about the Y2K Problem, would smile and say everything was fine. "It's not fine," Mr Dodd said. "The more a company looks at this problem, the more they find. The more they find, the more it costs."


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