ANALYSIS: Awareness Matters, If You Want to Win!

By Glenn Ericson

Shhhhh--Year/2000 Might Not Be a Prozac(tm) Moment!

In the public eye, many want John & Jane Doe to believe there will be severe reason to fear the turn of the millennium. This high stakes game of tag could be troublesome. The pointed fingers single out:

* MIS responsible for allowing this whole matter of computers running the world into millennium panic and grief.

* Government failures or lack luster corporate management

Merchants of profit have advocated hoarding of money, water, and electricity all stored at armed mountain retreats. Is this all necessary? Should we as IT Professionals stand by as this loss of confidence in our profession happens? I know there is an engineering side of Year 2000 for embedded systems "stuff", and I know there is the business driven decisions we have little control over. Hopefully these are few. A business that fails to acknowledge and responsibly act on Year 2000 readiness should be bid farewell for they soon will be gone before this century comes to a close. You can count on it!

An extract from a recent report on the state of aircraft passing Y2K tests Says 'Fleet Safe for 2000' (News/Reuters)

"Boeing tested one of its brand-new 737 airplanes, flying it at 20,000 feet over Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, while simulating the rollover to Jan. 1, 2000. "The 75-minute demonstration flight was the culmination of a six-year effort to ensure that some 10,500 Boeing jets in service,75 percent of the world's fleet, are free of computer bugs associated with the year 2000. The total of nine test flights culminating Friday were not required by federal regulators but were requested by Boeing's airline customers trying to assure a nervous flying public that airplane travel will be safe on, during and after Dec. 31." Boeing has checked for problems in all of its 7-series planes, and McDonnell Douglas models, finding only what are described as "nuisance errors," none of which supposedly affects flight safety.

The remaining question is: Will the insurance carriers consider there is insufficient risk in the air corridors to issue full coverage? Perhaps this might be a measure of infrastructure confidence versus aircraft capabilities.

It is time to put truth and confidence back into the wild world of Year 2000. We are a technology knowledgeable group. We know the facts of our progress and the stability of our efforts. More then likely you also have a good insight to your industry and your trading partners. Like Boeing, you should have little fear of going forward and telling your community what you have contributed to the betterment of Year 2000, their best interests, and well being.

Who better to hear this from then a person actually practicing the resolution of their alleged impending crisis. Your own enthusiasm will shine though with confidence and pride that will be extremely convincing. This will very likely dispel much of the existing fear of the unknown and lack of confidence. Fear exacerbated by those outside the trade seeking to create false demand and all that causes. Many times this is the final cause of lost confidence and a self fulfilling prophecy now destined to happen for fearful reasons versus factual.

In 'very simple terms' ensure the world that you are prepared. Convince them as you would tell your business partners that all is well and you will remain in business through the new century. Be realistic, admit there will be some bumps in the road, but the road will remain open for them to use. Please be truthful. We got into this enormous swing of the pendulum from drastically differing positions on the breadth and depth of the problem coupled with our abilities to repair it with on-time completion.

All the tools and facilities are at your disposal to provide for, and forecast most of the possible date problems that might lurk in the shadows. Admitting there will be some degree of problem, though far short of total havoc, as you have thoroughly tested and provided for as many 'what ifs' as could be brought forward. Furthermore, you are prepared with fully documented, well tested contingency plans, with alternative paths to continue nearly normal operations portrays another level of readiness.

When all goes wrong about you, keep calm. A familiar phrase that requires one to be trained and ready to meet all those little glitches with the utmost confidence and surety. Having done the readiness tasks, testing and ensured reviews thoroughly, who better than you is aware of the entire system? Who better than you is prepared to lead the post 2000 improvement efforts?

Tell the industry, not to worry, you are ready. Reassure John and Jane Doe, dispel rumors with facts and achievements. Remember John and Jane only know what they hear or see in the public media world of radio TV and newspapers. They are ultimately your clients and your paycheck. Assuming you are right, you need their confidence to survive.

Glenn Ericson is president and founder of Phoenix Consulting LLC, in East Elmhurst, N.Y. He specializes in Year 2000 and risk management issues. Glenn-Ericson@att.net.