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Firms unclear on Year 2000 needs

U.S. firms are failing to assess the extent of the Y2K bug on their desktop computers because they lack the technology to do so, a new study says.

U.S. companies are failing to assess the extent of the Year 2000 technology bug on their desktop computers because they lack the technology to adequately track hardware and software inventories, according to a new study.

Put together by the Cameron Back to Year 2000 Index Page School of Business at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Chris Jesse, president and CEO of Tangram Enterprise Solutions, the study is based on interviews with 449 Fortune 1000 senior managers.

Of those surveyed, 65 percent said fixing the distributed Y2K desktop problem is critically important to their organizations. In addition, 91 percent said Y2K compliance issues are receiving the highest attention possible within their organization, the board level. On what appears to be a good note, 90 percent of the respondents report that they plan to have all of their enterprise applications compliant before the new millennium, according to the study.

However, the study found that there is a serious problem in desktop Year 2000 compliance progress. The study concluded that given the tight deadline, the mission-critical desktops that may be running noncompliant applications, and the minimal progress that has been made, it is unclear how organizations are going to protect their employees, shareholders, and customers from the negative effects of errant software.

Of those surveyed, 30 percent of the executives surveyed do not conduct hardware and software inventories of their assets. Sixty-four percent of those that do conduct hardware and software inventories said they conduct them only once a year or less frequently. As a result, many organizations are not aware of what assets they have, where they're located, or how these assets are changing over time. Without updated asset information, organizations have a hard time determining which desktops to fix.

"Since the survey respondents understand the serious nature of Year 2000 compliance, it is surprising that so many have made such limited progress in addressing the problem," the authors of the study said in a statement. "Equally perplexing is the fact that many of the executives surveyed do not appear to recognize their lack of readiness, nor their unrealistic desktop compliance expectations."

The study also found that 68 percent of the respondents said their inventory process cannot immediately detect the presence of noncompliant software applications.

Another 31 percent said they have not yet developed a list of noncompliant applications within their enterprise, and 9 percent say they do not plan to create such a list.

The report further supports the growing concern by analysts about the Y2K bug's impact on systems outside of the back office and on legacy computers.

Yesterday, Novell announced it will team up with Greenwich Mean Time, a developer of Year 2000 software, to bundle that company's Year 2000 risk assessment product with the soon-to-be-released Z.E.N.works 1.1. Novell will deliver Z.E.N.works 1.1 with Check 2000 in the fourth quarter of 1998. The Novell and Greenwich Mean Time bundle will allow businesses to assess their networks for Year 2000 bugs.