The domino effect is not confined to systems of computer-coordinated separate organizations. It also applies inside an organization. The vulnerable aspect is the network system which coordinates the organization.
It is not just older, "legacy" code that is at risk. It is modern networked systems. From inside the company to outside suppliers and buyers, the network is vulnerable.
This article in COMMUNICATIONS WEEK (May 5) quotes Jon Church, general manager of the Insight 2000 consulting program at Software AG. "Think of it as a virus. If you have bad data on one system and it's promulgated across the network, there's a domini effect on the other systems. Similarly, if you fix the problem on one system, all of the systems that rely on that data will have to be changed to reflect that [change]."
This is the heart of the problem, as I have stated it: you must fix it all or you might as well not fix any of it. I have hammered away at one indistry, above all: banking.
Steven McManus of BankBoston describes the internal problem of his bank. This is not the larger problem of inter-bank communications. "At the bank, we might have 10 different products -- checking accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, mutual funds -- running on 10 different applications, some of which rely on external data."
"One of the services we offer is a consolidated statement that shows all of the custimer's financial assets on one page. But if all of those applications are not [Year 2000] compliant, the math on your statement is going to be wrong."
If people think their local bank will get the math wrong in 2000, will they keep their money in the bank throughout 1999? The answer to this question will decide the fate of the economy. It's the obvious question that only I am asking today. Nobody else will touch this one. You can understand why. The answer looks obvious: no. That answer could put us all back in the late 19th century: a universal collapse of fractional reserve banking.
Ann Coffou of the Giga Group predicts that 50% of all companies are not going to make the date change. Of these, 25% will be driven out of business. That is 12.5%. But which 12.5%? How about 100% of all banks? It makes a difference how the 12.% is distributed.