Half of European companies have made no meaningful progress on Year 2000 conversion and must begin their triage planning now, as the complete compliance train has already left.
This is the no-nonsense message from the man who has been labelled "the doom and gloom merchant of Europe" by his colleagues for his storm warning approach to the Year 2000 issue.
"I am absolutely flabbergasted that so many organisations have not started or done any meaningful work. When those asleep at the wheel realise how much work there is to be done the panic will be heard throughout the entire industry," said Andy Kite, research director and Y2K guru at Gartner Group, speaking at the company's Predicts 98 conference in Paris this week.
According to its latest figures, only eight per cent of organisations have even got to be 'mission-critical compliant', on the Gartner measurement scale. Another 20 per cent have reached the planning, costing and work begun on mission critical systems phase, which according to Gartner is when original costs estimates usually increase increase five times.
Kyte noted that many organisations, particularly in the manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries, have now started assessing the cost of increasing inventories to provide a buffer against any failure of national infrastructures such as transportation and utilities.
Problems in the supply chain are most likely to hit companies, he continued, leading to litigation over losses caused by the failure to fulfil contract terms on delivery of goods or services.
Merrill Lynch, US finance house, said this week it would stop doing business with firms that had not dealt adequately with the Year 2000 problem.
Edward Goldberg, chief technology officer at the company, was reported as saying at an industry conference that the company was spending $275 million and using 600 people on the project and he expected trading partners to also be compliant or be cut off.
In July, 15 US finance companies will test a $6 billion program that has been developed to conduct industry-wide testing at the end of this year and into 1999 in order to ensure systems are compliant and to spot those companies that have not done sufficient work.
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