Despite having millennium programmes in place, one in three large firms continue to experience bug-related problems, according to government agency Action 2000, which today warned that even the highest levels of preparedness offer no guarantees.
The warning came from Action 2000 managing director, Don Cruickshank, who told journalists in London that companies in the finance, manufacturing and utilities sectors have encountered problems with contracts and planning beyond 2000. Some millennium software has already malfunctioned although no specifics were offered.
Avoiding dramatic tales that have caused Ation 2000 some embarrassment recently, Cruickshank played down the problems, which he said "are quite minor" and centre on system using dates beyond the year 2000, particularly stock ordering systems and credit card records. The Halifax building society was reported Tuesday as sending customers reminders about insurance claims covering the period between 1st January 1999 to 1st January 1900.
But even if "minor glitches" are ironed out, big companies will remain reliant on supply chains and with 50 percent - around 400,000 -- of small to medium-sized businesses still lagging behind the bug is far from conquered.
Cruickshank called on big businesses to pressure their suppliers to ensure all systems are working by 2000 and while Action 2000 is working closely with big firms, he admitted its role would always be limited. "We were never going to micro-manage the economy," he said. "It is not government or government agencies who will be the key influences on these smaller businesses. It will be their customers who need to exert pressure."
Recent press reports about Action 2000 advising the public to stockpile food in preparation for the millennium were strenuously denied by Cruickshank.