From the News Desk

IT should capitalize on 'Y2K washout'

Just over a week into the new year and the stream of TV bulletins and ocean of ink spilled on year 2000 have started to dry up. Business colleagues, perhaps even relatives over for New Year's Day dinner, may have been asking, "Why all the fuss? Nothing really happened, right?"

Wrong. The biggest mistake an IT executive could make right now would be to downplay -- or be defensive -- about year-2000 projects.

If, or when, people say to you that the year-2000 rollover was a problem-free event, remind them that most glitches are self-reported. The ones that come to light are in customer-facing systems. But as nearly any programmer will tell you, there are a lot more behind the scenes. Moreover, in those documented cases where companies did not alter programs at all, systems simply didn't work.

Sure, some people over-reacted and consultants took advantage of the situation, but as our Page One article by Ed Scannell and Eve Epstein points out, the "toothless bite" of the year-2000 rollover stems from effective IT project management and cooperation with business.

The post-rollover period is also an opportunity to leverage those investments made in upgraded systems, as well as those relationships between IT and the rest of the business. Covering up problems that continue to crop up won't help matters; what's important is how fast IT has been able to resolve those issues that did occur, through backup systems or fixes.

But this fast-paced electronic-business world hardly leaves time to rest on one's laurels. Y2K directors need to scope out how many resources are needed to control the situation and to free up the others to help move the business forward. The pace of technological innovation and democratization continues unabated, and the foundations of our business environments shift every day.

Thankfully, year 2000 can drop a few notches on our priority lists.

Has the entire year-2000 process raised your profile in a positive or negative way at your company? Where are you placing your technology and business bets this year?

Write to me at martin_lamonica@infoworld.com, or visit my forum at www.infoworld.com.

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