Lack of Business Shuts NZ Y2K Solutions Group

A New Zealand company which started up last year to provide year 2000 solutions has been mothballed due to lack of business.

DateLine 2000 aimed to review code for non-compliance, and then modify it. None of the 22 people involved gave up their day jobs for the venture, although they thought it would provide some extra income.

But DateLine 2000 director Dave McIntosh says the company has received no interest from organizations wanting a year 2000 fix and he can't work out why. "Nobody seems to want Cobol programmers," he said. "I've spoken to other people involved in Y2K stuff and I've heard similar stories from them."

He says everyone involved had believed there would be a lot of interest. "Some of my people held very senior positions with some large organizations and said, 'yes, there will be a demand'. But we've got no interest whatsoever," he said.

McIntosh believes demand will come either later this year or early next year and the company will be resuscitated when that happens.

"Having said that, we think it's going to be too late for those people," he said. "But, we will do the work and charge the money and do the best we can."

He says he's not sure if there are enough people to do the required work, because it's hard to know how much work there will be.

"If we'd started at the beginning of this year, the pool of people would have been sufficient, but now I'm wondering whether it's ever going to be sufficient," he said. "If people come with 10 million lines of code -- even today -- chances are we won't be able to complete that work on time."

McIntosh says he knows of others involved in Y2K work who have already completed projects.

"I know there are some success stories out there, but this should be about the time that they should be coming through," he said.

McIntosh believes there will be Y2K work well into August 2000.

"Obviously some systems are more critical than others and some people elect to leave those until something has to be done. But there is an end to it," he said. "It's not an industry that's going to thrive for 20 years, which is why we are not giving up our day jobs."

Y2K recruitment firm Wilson White director Ross Stewart says there is some activity out there but not huge amounts.

He says there isn't a "flood" of inquiries from small companies. "And that's the biggest worry," Stewart said. "That's where the government should be doing something."

He says the Australian government is bringing out a Y2K awareness campaign next week -- "It's time to step on it" -- and is a long way ahead of New Zealand. Stewart believes the government here should bring out information on steps that small businesses should follow.

He says while the bigger consultancy firms will do work for clients who ask for it, they don't seem to be actively seeking work in the field. He wonders if it is now already getting too close to the timeline where litigation could be a problem.

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