Almost a third of Britain's biggest businesses believe their competitors will be savaged by the Millennium bug, with more than half expecting to benefit from rivals' misfortunes.
According to the Year 2000 Contingency Planning Survey, published today by independent Y2K watchdog Taskforce 2000 and consultants Adam Associates, 32 per cent of Britain's top 1000 companies are counting on rivals being hit by the bug. Nearly 60 per cent expect to gain a competitive advantage by having business continuity plans in place.
Although the vast majority (98 per cent) of big businesses believe they have contingency plans in place to cope with their own Y2K related problems, but the survey reveals that many may be unworkable.
Around 22 per cent of the survey's respondents admitted that contingency plans had not been tested at all and 41 per cent said that although plans were in place these had not been communicated to staff.
One in five companies admitted that no steps have been taken to ensure relevant staff will be able to get to work during the critical New Year period and 14 per cent have not secured staff for that time. Only 29 per cent said that the contingency plans they have in place had been validated by a third party.
Last week Lou Marcoccio, a leading Year 2000 expert at the Gartner Group, recommended companies establish an 'Event Management Centre' where the required personnel including Y2K project managers and legal and public relations staff could centralise their response to problems.
Taskforce 2000's survey found that 19 per cent of this group of companies have not set up a crisis management team and 41 per cent have no media management or public relations response planned in the event that their operations are affected by the bug.
The survey found that despite government assurances power and telecommunications failures are still the primary fears of big business, followed by failures in the financial services sector and amongst key supplier failures.
"If big business is sufficiently worried to be making radical plans to overcome possible disruption, what should the prudent individual or community be doing? These findings do nothing to support the 'business as usual' message we hear from government," said Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000.
"It seems to me that if anyone were to advise individuals to do the sort of things that big business is doing, that person would be categorised as a dangerous alarmist," he added.
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