The crisis for Brtish business will begin early, according to Don Cruikshank, who is the head of Oftel, the British telecommunications firm. He is also the head of Action 2000, the government's Year 2000 Awareness organization.
The article appeared in the London SUNDAY TIMES (Nov. 17).
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Don Cruickshank, the Director-General of Oftel and now in charge of tackling the "millennium bug", believes that companies must lay plans to have the problem conquered by April 6, 1999, the start of the financial year.
He says: "Accounting systems, vital to all those operators providing telecoms services, have to be changed before the beginning of the financial year that overlaps 2000. The thousands of companies that will have to carry out complex technical changes in that year must budget for them in advance."
Mr Cruickshank is well aware of the challenge he is facing as chairman of the Action 2000 project. "As regulator of the telecoms industry, I wanted to find out if the millennium problem was as serious as suggested," he says. "So I launched an investigation into the industry's preparedness and have been monitoring it ever since." . . .
"The problem is deep-seated because the microprocessors might have been buried away and installed by a sub-contractor. The companies with equipment that could be affected must therefore find records showing where the chips are before deciding whether they can be reprogrammed. . . .
"The problems are crowding in. Managers who seek assurances from component suppliers that their microprocessors are 'millennium-compliant' are not getting an answer. When they ask for systems to be closed down for testing, they are told that is impossible. Yet they cannot be sure that it is going to work unless they test it from end to end. Each individual component might work but when they are all linked, the total system might fail. They are also short of skilled people to carry out any work. It is a big headache."