This report from TECH WEB NEWS (Oct. 20) is frightening. As far behind as the United States is, it is way ahead of Japan. The Japanese rely on home-brewed (customized) software: at least 70%. The U.S. relies far more on software packages: 75%. It will be far more difficult to fix Japan's problems.
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Western corporations are growing concerned about Japan's slowness in dealing with the date-change crises known as the year 2000 computer glitch, according to Bob Haywood, vice president of Asia Pacific services at the Gartner Group. The core of the year 2000 problem is the inability of many older computers to distinguish between the 20th and 21st centuries because many computers store years as two-figure dates rather than four-figure dates.
"There seems to be a lack of awareness [in Japan] and of people actually fixing the problem," said Haywood at the Gartner Group's Symposium ITxpo 97. "Organizations I know that do business in Japan -- or rely on Japanese products, goods, and services -- are getting very worried that Japanese industry is not yet ready for the year 2000 problem." . . .
The financial community in the West is finding it hard to get any kind of assurance from Japanese counterparts that the Y2K problem is not going to be a problem, Haywood said. Major players in the financial industry who are becoming concerned about the slowness of Japan's year 2000 program include securities companies, banks, and credit card companies such as American Express, Master Card, and Visa, Haywood said. . . .
"And what's really quite frightening is that the problem is probably bigger here [in Japan] than in other countries," Haywood said. "This is because the problem is most noticeable in very large, enterprisewide, mainframe legacy applications. And in relation to the rest of the world, Japan's industry has more of these than any other country," he said.
In the United States, more than 75 percent of software applications are packaged, whereas in Japan, more than 70 percent of applications are still customized, Haywood said.
"That means tremendous exposure, I believe, to the year 2000 problem," Haywood said.