Independent Y2K watchdog Taskforce 2000 has joined the doomsayers warning that the millennium bug will wreak havoc with computer systems well before 1 January and continue long after.
Ian Hugo, author of Taskforce 2000's latest report, Predicting Year 2000 Disruption, said many organisations' computer systems may fail during 1999, caused by the very work being carried out to fix the bug.
New problems coming to light and deadline overruns as 2000 approaches, will cause "congestion" - a build up of disruption within organisations and insufficient resources available to tackle the problems, he claimed.
"Everyone is pulling apart their computer systems and upgrading them but the record of these sorts of projects being completed on time is poor," said Hugo.
A number of millennium bug project failures in one organisation - a situation Hugo calls "Death by Attrition" - could be catastrophic, he warned, adding that large organisations need to have contingency plans in place by the middle of 1999 in case their computer systems are not fixed before the rollover.
He also said problems caused by the millennium bug will drag on for many months after 1 January. This "drag factor" will occur because some problems will not make computer systems stop functioning altogether, but will cause data corruption which may not be evident.
"You might not even know you have a serious computer problem for some time, and when you do you will have a huge amount of corrupted data which will be very difficult to sort out," said Hugo.
The report concludes that entire trading groups or supply chains may be brought down by the millennium bug in a situation it dubbed "Death by a thousand cuts". This would occur where separate computer systems failures appear at around the same time in different organisations.
Mr Hugo estimates that only five to 10 per cent of computer failures caused by the millennium bug will occur on 1 January.
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