David Marshall, vice president and European managing director of Greenwich Mean Time, on what we should be worrying about in year 2000
Of all the risks associated with the century date change, ignorance, misplaced faith and uncertainty are the biggest threats. It is up to resellers, as the conduit between the industry and users, to ensure that companies are aware of the risks they face.
But sadly, and despite all the warnings, the industry is still shipping product containing year 2000 problems. Karl Feilder, an adviser to Action 2000, says 11 per cent of the PCs sold in the first six months of 1998 will fail to roll over from 31 December 1999 to 1 January 2000.
It is important to remember that replacing hardware is not in itself the key to solving year 2000 problems. There are five layers to the PC and each one behaves mutually, making millennium issues complex and difficult to pin down and resolve.
There is a huge education job to be done and remediation takes time.
It is imperative that the channel responds to this challenge as quickly as possible.
Almost everyone is aware that there is a year 2000 problem, but this awareness needs to be turned into an understanding of the real issues surrounding it. It is tempting for resellers to shy away from discussing year 2000 remediation with their customers. Everyone in the industry has sold hardware or software that now presents their clients with serious problems.
But these goods were sold in good faith. Resellers must bite the bullet and help their customers sort the problem out. Only by taking action will they protect their customers' businesses and help maintain a positive business relationship with them. Don't forget that if one reseller doesn't talk to his clients about the year 2000, another will.
According to Action 2000, 51 per cent of firms with between 10 and 250 staff and 76 per cent of businesses with less than 10 staff, have yet to start making themselves year 2000 ready. It is these smaller firms that are the bread and butter of the reseller community.
Most big companies claim they are largely ready for the new century.
However correct these claims may be, few of these firms have any means by which to independently substantiate them, something a good year 2000 auditing tool should be able to offer by way of its reporting facility.
The millennium bug could be the biggest revenue opportunity ever available to resellers. Instead, the industry's inactivity indicates that the year 2000 is perceived as being as big a threat to resellers as it is a chance to sell updated hardware and software.
But the millennium issue is no hype - it is critical to the business survival of both users and the resellers. After all, if users fail to grasp the issues surrounding it, resellers will have considerably fewer customers to serve at the start of the next millennium.
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