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Y2K preparation many firms' biggest project

Efforts to ready computer systems for the date change rank as one of the largest information technology projects for many U.S.-based businesses, a new survey reports.

Efforts to ready computer systems for the date change ranked as one of the largest information technology projects for many U.S.-based businesses, a new survey reports.

Y2K: The cost of fear According to consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, most large organizations arranged huge efforts to prevent problems tied to the Y2K bug. Seventy-one percent of companies said preparing for the millennium was the largest information technology (IT) project they had conducted within the past five years.

The study was based on interviews with senior financial and information technology executives at 100 randomly selected U.S.-based organizations with $100 million and more in revenue.

A 20 percent perception gap, however, exists between senior IT executives and financial officers. About 62 percent of queried CIOs felt that the budget and scale of their firm's Y2K plans were remarkably larger than any IT project they had previously been undertaken. Only 42 percent of CFOs felt the same, according to the study.

Back to Year 2000 Index Page "For a lot of CFOs this was the first major IT project they took part in," said Daniel Dec, a partner at PricewaterouseCoopers' operations and systems risk management group. "CFOs had nothing to really compare it to."

Almost all of the organizations began their Y2K efforts with a process for setting priorities, and said that often the biggest task was identifying mission-critical systems.

"The Y2K process has helped people understand their IT infrastructure better," Dec said.

Identifying when problems would first occur was also a major factor, with 58 percent of survey participants describing it as a "large" influence in setting priorities.

The Year 2000 problem, also known as the millennium bug, stems from an old programming shortcut that used only the last two digits of the year. Many computers now must be modified or they may mistake the year 2000 for the year 1900 and not be able to function at all.