Resellers have 'a golden opportunity' to extend their range of services by catering for Y2K needs - but they they risk losing their own businesses if they don't grab it warned Gwynneth Flower, managing director of Action 2000.
Speaking at a packed keynote at the Computer Trade Show in Birmingham, Flower said that whilst awareness of the Millennium Bug is extremely high, only 51 per cent of the 850,000 businesses with between 10 and 250 employees have any formal strategy in place for the Year 2000.
"Tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs are at risk unless action is taken," she said.
She added that if resellers do not help their customers to become Y2K compliant there could be a "domino effect", where one collapses due to the Bug and others follow.
"Your small to medium business customers generally don't have IT skills, they don't realise they have a problem," explained Flower, "We all live in a networked economy, we all have customers and suppliers - don't underestimate the supply chain."
Flower told the resellers that they could not expect to sell many new systems to their customers as the majority of small to medium businesses do not have the time or money to change their IT infrastructure.
The way forward, Flower said, was for resellers to start offering Year 2000 upgrades, which could be extended to low cost consultancy. Action 2000 claims to have a wealth of information and services that can help resellers to do this, including technical databases, training information and product updates.
Flower encouraged the resellers to use these services to make their customers Y2K compliant, build stronger relations and give themselves a key marketing advantage for growing sales in the next Millennium.
By taking this approach, "you will be in a better position to win new business," said Flower.
"The government can't do it, I can't do it - but you can bring pressure to bear," added Flower, "Don't delay, take action - we are all of us running out of time."
Action 2000 has had its critics since it was set up by the government last year, in particular because of its lack of power to compel companies to reveal their Y2K status. This contrasts with the situation in the US where the government and Securities Exchange Commission have required listed companies to issue Y2K status reports.
For the audio file of Gwynneth Flower's keynote at the Computer Trade Show, click here
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