Senior Execs: Hold Off on the Generators

Seasoned IT executives feel they are ready for the Year 2000 problem, and are not running out the door to stock up on emergency supplies. However, there's a lot of skepticism about the readiness of all government agencies, the air transportation system, and less developed countries.

A recent poll conducted by Open Systems Advisors Inc. a Boston-based IT research firm, confirms that most IT executives present are beyond their own internal Year 2000 problems. IT executives discount the specter of widespread computer failures -- for example, 84% of the respondents say they do not expect "major" computer problems in the year 2000, and 83% do not think that banking and accounting systems will fail.

In addition, a majority do not foresee economic calamities -- 74% do not think Y2K will cause a major economic recession. Even more telling, 84% have no plans to purchase generators or wood stoves to prepare for Y2K failures.

However, perhaps because they know the amount of effort and time required to resolve Y2K problems within their own large organizations, these IT executives remain somewhat skeptical that all organizations will resolve the problem. Despite their overall optimism, senior IT executives do anticipate problems with the readiness of government agencies (96%), and systems in less developed countries. A significantly large portion, 79% say that they will personally avoid air travel around January 1.

Many of the companies participating in the survey were ahead of the curve several years ago in identifying and acting on Y2K, says Nina Lytton, president of Open Systems Advisors. "They are on track to timely completion of their own readiness efforts. Now, their priorities for IT spending and implementation have shifted to customer-focused systems that will help them grow."

However, many "expect negative Y2K impact not because of underlying technical problems but, rather, because of public perception," she notes. "Some of us are bracing for consumer reaction to overly frightening media reports. For example, 41% say that grocery and other store shortages are likely, and 42% say that a major stock market decline is likely."

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