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1998-05-19 07:26:19


The Favorite Myth: Big Business Will Be OK, Not Small Business



There is no y2k myth held more dearly by y2k analysts than the big business/small business myth.

Big business will take care of their y2k problems. Management knows it's there. These firms have the resources. In short, awareness = success. Never mind that the evidence points to the overwhelming complexity of the big firms' computerized systems -- beyond the ability of programmers to correct. Never mind that there is no evidence that big businesses are actually spending most of the money budgeted to fix y2k. Next year, the managers promise. Next quarter. Later. But they refuse to cut the earnings reports for this quarter by spending the money needed to fix the problem. And that's just the U.S. Outside the U.S., things are much worse. Yet the world economy is a system held together by noncompliant banks.

Small businesses won't make it, we're told. These managers ignoring the problem. They don't have the resources.

Here is the assumption: big business will swallow up small businesses. There will still be lots of jobs for middle class repeaters of the myth. No problem for the college educated.

The analysts assume that their jobs will survive. It's all those pathetic folks employed by small business who are in trouble.

First, the myth is not true. The opposite is true: those small businesses run by paper and ink may survive; large businesses will not.

Second, the bulk of all new emnployment comes from small businesses. If the myth were true, it would be a counsel of despair for the economy and the typical employee.

I have never seen the myth repeated so faithfully as by Vivian Tsuji, who looks at the evidence that shows why the myth cannot be true and then faithfully repeats the myth.

This is from PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS (May 18).

* * * * * *

Vivian Tsuji, director of client services at Data House, said businesspeople's general reaction is to do little, if anything, and hope they will "escape the problem."

A factor determining the severity of small businesses' troubles is whether their accounting software and hardware are Y2K compliant.

Ironically, those with an accounting system that consists of keeping receipts in a metal box and dumping them at their accountants' doors at month's end may have less to worry about, compared to businesses who meticulously and electronically track transactions in-house, said Tsuji, who helps businesses prepare for the next century. . . .

Although small businesses usually have less complicated computer systems than large businesses, they could be more vulnerable to the Y2K bug.

"A large company knows how reliant they are on computers and they were the ones who started working on the problem first," Tsuji said. "The clock keeps ticking and you can't delay the year 2000."


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