Software houses are not being straight with customers about Year 2000 compliance, a major US user told a packed conference on Friday. At the same London event, science and technology minister Ian Taylor said computer companies that are still shipping software that is not Year 2000 compliant must own up to their customers.
The challenge was thrown in particular to oftware developers and resellers. "Computer companies still selling non-millennium-compliant software and services must come clean and make the position clear to the customer," he said.
Fellow speaker Kathy Adams - associate commissioner for systems design and development for the US? Social Security Administration - claimed: "Most off-the-shelf software is not compliant. Vendors are not being forthright with us." The SSA is undergoing a complex Year 2000 programme.
Taylor and Adams spoke at a two-day conference sponsored by the DTI and Computing magazine, entitled Taskforce 2000: Ensuring Business Continuity at The Millennium. It was attended by 400 IT professionals.
Stephen Farr, product marketing manager at accountancy software vendor Systems Union, disagreed with Adams? assumption that most software is not compliant. "The vast majority of packaged software is Year 2000 compliant. What people should look out for are links to other packages and bespoke software. Developers would have to decompile the software if they aren?t compliant," he said.
Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000, which was set up to raise awareness of the issue in businesses, said complacency and lack of urgency by business managers is hurting efforts by their IT colleagues to address the problem. "Year 2000 is a serious matter - it is a business issue, not an IT issue."
He said the initial fight is to make business chiefs not only aware of the issue but understanding its business impact. The challenge will be difficult - of the 600 people he has addressed since the Taskforce was established in August only one was a senior executive, the rest were IT managers. "We must close the gap that exists between general managers and IT," he said.
However, raising business managers' awareness is only half the battle. Gary Miles, a consultant with PA Consulting?s management group, said even if companies begin compliancy work at the beginning of 1997 they will only be 50 per cent ready by 2000.
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