the 2000 forum


Frequently Asked Questions


Question : Impact 2000 - What is the Challenge and how did it happen?

The scope of the "Year 2000 Challenge" spans the entire Information Technology industry. The phenomenon exists because for decades is has been common practice to use two digits instead of four when writing dates. This carried over when writing computer programs, especially when it comes to minimise expensive memory space and data entry time. However common this practice, it causes computer software performing arithmetic operations or sorting of data fields to yield incorrect result when working with year beyond 1999.

A data mismatch can exist in any level of hardware or software from micro code to applications programs, in files and databases, and is present on ALL platforms. In recent years, the IT trade press has given ever greater attention to this phenomenon within increasingly ominous article titles.

Question : Impact 2000 - What actually happens if the Year 2000 issue isn't corrected?

However dramatic all this may sound, consider the following scenarios to help put the phenomenon and its business ramification into perspective.

Imagine in the first quarter of the Year 2000 you company cannot process its 1999 end-of-year billing or end-of-year payroll properly; your corporate credit card holders are refused most transactions because their accounts appear delinquent; your 1999 year-end profit data cannot be calculated properly; and your utility companies cut off their services due to your apparent late bill payments. Similarly your household and personal financial situation could encounter similar dilemma if your creditors do not also strive to meet this challenge.

Referred to "Year 2000 Challenge" or the "Year 2000 Problem", this is really a 2 digit year problem. Your IS organisation needs to plan for, and address, the data changes well in advance of January 1, 2000.

Question : Impact 2000 - Why rush - Why can't customers fix their problems and become "Year 2000 Ready" in 1998 or 1999?

Many customers may run out of time and not be able to alter their application portfolio if they wait. Also, the Year 2000 problem is already beginning to surface for some customers and will occur more frequently as we approach the Year 2000.

Question : Impact 2000 - Are there estimates on how difficult, how long and how much it will cost a company to become Year 2000 Ready?

For many organisations you can expect the initial size of this Impact 2000 work effort to appear overwhelming and the overall project to appear enormous or unreasonable, as it should.

THIS IS NOT A TRIVIAL PROJECT.

Expect the need for your sponsorship to dedicate personnel, dedicate computer resources, approve the requisition of potential Solution Developer Tools and/or services support, and to budget to fund it all. Making applications and system software "Year 2000 Ready" is a type of redevelopment project, the scope of which depends upon the size and amount of software being used.

Gartner Group Consultants have estimated that a typical mid-size company could spend as much as $3 million to $4 million personnel and computer resources to make the changes. They add that large companies or organisations could spend ten times that or more. Desktop and Small Office / Home Office computer users will have to contact their vendors and suppliers to see what desktop software is "Year 2000 Ready".

The solutions are not particularly difficult to implement and the technical solutions are not complex when viewed on a program-by-program basis.

It is the overall project size and the program / data inter-relationships that introduces the true project complexity. Expect the need to appoint a cross-department and cross-divisional focal point to manage it all.


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