Central and eastern Europe are failing to tackle the Year 2000 bug, threatening the supply chains of western business and investors.
City law firm, Cameron McKenna, surveyed over 1,000 firms in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Moscow, Almaty and Tashkent, finding that almost two-thirds have no Year 2000 strategy. John Armstrong, McKenna?s head of IT and telecomms, and a member of the Year 2000 Taskforce, warned that UK companies operating in eastern Europe should check the readiness of any suppliers, customers and business partners in the region.
He said: ?The complexity of supply chains and interdependence of IT systems means that even if a company in the UK has taken every precaution and proves to be entirely compliant, its [eastern European] operations and business associations could disrupt business, leading to loss of profit, or worse.?
Over 87 per cent of respondents said thay have had no guidance from government and regulatory bodies on how to tackle Year 2000 problems; 88 per cent have no contingency or disaster recovery plans; less than 50 per cent have enquired about their suppliers? Year 2000 readiness; under a fifth have asked external advisors to review their compliance and only a third have been asked to provide compliance procedures to investors and trading partners.
But western Europe has little cause for complacency according to a second survey by lawyers Dibb Lupton Alsop, conducted for Taskforce 2000. Focusing on larger UK corporations, the results showed that by the end of 1998, under 50 per cent of respondents had spent two-thirds of their Year 2000 budget, indicating that much of the work is incomplete.
One in 10 companies acknowledged that they only started Year 2000 programmes in 1998. 45 per cent had not identified embedded processors throughout their organisations, but they may take some comfort from Giga Information Group?s latest findings. Confirming research published by Gartner Group in late October, the analysts say that the Year 2000 effect on embedded systems will not be catastrophic and that the application of common sense will do much to reduce the risks.
Utilities and other regulated industries are heavy users of embedded systems, but Giga says these companies are accountable to authorities and obligated to deliver systems and products that work. They tend to be ahead of the field in their Year 2000 preparation. In non-regulated industries, the threat of litigation, particularly in the US, is a strong driver to compliance.
Giga says companies should prepare an inventory of kit that may be affected by the date change; rank and prioritise which systems are business critical, then work with suppliers to ensure that the crucial systems are Year 2000 safe.
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