Three in four UK companies still lack a clear understanding of the Year 2000 problem or how to tackle it, according to extensive research published today.
The survey, commissioned by the trade body Computing Services and Software Association, questioned over 1,000 senior executives in the public and private sectors about both their attitudes to the Y2K problem and actions taken.
Sixty seven per cent of senior managers claimed to be ?very aware? of the issue but only 23 per cent had identified the appropriate resources to start work on the faulty code.
In a damning portrait of UK business, half of the companies questioned appeared to underestimate the cost of making their computers and platforms 2000-compatible. They expect the cost to be under #10,000 but research from the Gartner Group estimates that fixing just user written applications - like spreadsheets and macros - to be #500 per application user.
Although the report acknowledges that public awareness of the 2000 timebomb is almost universal, it says there is a chasm between awareness and action. It claims that few managers are prepared to accept responsibility for the problem, let alone pay for a solution.
Graham Titterington, an analyst at Ovum, agreed with the findings of the report and called for European business and governments to ram home the enormity of the 2000 bug. ?It may be in the popular consciousness thanks to widespread reports in the media but too many people still think of the Year 2000 issue as only a technical detail affecting computers,? he said.
He added that governments on mainland Europe have been too concerned with IT compliance problems surrounding monetary union, causing them to downplay the potential global crisis that could be triggered by the 1999 date change.
Robin Guernier, director of the privately financed Taskforce 2000 - rival organisation to the government-funded Action 2000 group - blasted the government, claiming ?it does not even understand the problem itself".
Guernier also criticised the upper echelons of management. ?There is a lot of buck passing,? he said. ?Boards of directors are culpable and their businesses could be ruined. Shareholders may sue them as individuals and many insurance companies are now refusing to cover Year 2000 risk.?
Global estimates of the total cost of Year 2000 adjustments range from #20 billion to #50 billion.
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