It is now the third week of 1997 and time, once again, for the computer industry to issue another warning on the Year 2000 time-bomb.
This time it came at Eclipsing the Millennium, a conference aimed at the public sector which took place in London last Tuesday.
In spite of all the warnings and attention the Year 2000 has been given, Rob Wirszycz, director general of the Computing Software and Services Association (CSSA) and chairman of Taskforce 2000, predicted that 20% of organisations will do nothing about it and several will fail as a result.
Wirszycz predicted there will be a huge shortage of project leaders and advised delegates to "assign your best people now". He warned that personnel costs will skyrocket: "Specialist Year 2000 contractors will charge as much as u1,500 a day by mid-1997."
Management consultants will only be able to assist their existing client base and will have little capacity to help new prospects. Wirszycz said this will lead to a surge in off-shore developments and a trend towards replacing legacy systems rather than fixing them.
Among the repercussions resulting from the Year 2000, Wirszycz warned of an increase in the volume of litigation. He rounded off his speech with a gloomy prophecy: "IT will never again be left to technicians."
Stuart Turner, director of Oracle's public sector division,spelt out what should be done: convince management; appoint a manager; undertake an audit, analyse the system and carry out a pilot study. Turner waned delegates the millennium bug will have an untold impact on the UK public sector. "The debate has centred around complacency and the spread of fear, uncertainty and doubt rather than on achieving top-down awareness."
Last November the government released a green paper entitled Government Direct describing how citizens could gain easier access to the Government through increased use of IT. The Year 2000 issue gives an ideal opportunity for government departments and agencies to scrap their old legacy systems and implement new ones geared at reducing the mountain of paper they produce.
The paperless office may seem idealist, but who better to lead the people of the UK into the 21st century than the Government?
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