Small Businesses And Y2k Essay, Research Paper
Small Businesses and Y2KWhen the ball drops in New York City and the calendar turns from December 31st 1999 to January 1st 2000, many things will happen. Along with the worldwide celebration, and mass inebriation, many people predict global catastrophe. This catastrophe will be brought on by what is known as the “year 2000 bug” or Y2K. In the early 1990’s Y2K was first realized by people in the computer industry as a potential problem, and began receiving recognition by the general public ever since. During the early 1960’s when computers were first being refined, programmers wished to make data entry more efficient in terms of storing, entering, and displaying data through a six-digit display that they developed. This existing display on older computers consists of the month/day/year (mm/dd/yy) which allows only two spaces for the year. This six-digit display works well until the 21st century when, theoretically these programs will lose the ability to accommodate the 4-digit year code of the year 2000. The computer will read January 1st 2000 as 01/01/00, which many computer specialists believe would lead the computer to process this information as January 1st 1900. This inaccurate information will cause the computer to confuse nearly all information involved, which in turn, is predicted to have an enormous impact around the world. Information such as important dates, account numbers, access codes and even secured documents will all be affected. The Y2K bug will not only effect large operating systems, but will also have an impact on small businesses and entrepreneurs. The year 2000 problem is unlike any other problem businesses have faced in modern history for several reasons. Nearly every business relies on computers on a daily basis, and this reliance on technology makes Y2K an enormous issue. The procrastination of some businesses with this dilemma adds the aspect of time constraint, which turns this into an immediate issue. Now that many businesses are realizing that Y2K is a problem, a shortage of qualified programmers is going to add to the severity of the problem. These qualified programmers will be in high demand and will control the amount and effectiveness of systems fixed. Due to this high demand, business will be at the mercy of a few qualified individuals charging inflated prices for their services.Many believe that there is still good news for the vast majority of today’s small businesses. The traditional attributes of small businesses, like their size, low levels of computerization, and the newness of the business may act in their favor when it comes to Y2K. These characteristics make small businesses less vulnerable than large businesses to problems associated with Y2K. Small companies use fewer computers and less sophisticated software than their larger competitors may use. This makes it easier to detect and rectify computer glitches associated with Y2K. Many small businesses have only been around for a limited number of years, so naturally their equipment and programs will be up to date and thus less Y2K vulnerable. Although some small businesses have an advantage combating Y2K, they do however lack the financial resources of a larger company required to solve serious Y2K problems. Small businesses still have the potential to face serious problems created by Y2K and should prepare accordingly.
The demand for solutions to Y2K is growing, and many companies have surfaced with offers to sell various “snake oils” as a remedy for this serious problem. There has been no proven magical answer to the Y2K problem. There are, however, a number of valid and relatively cost-effective ways to address this feared problem.The first solution that many small businesses are choosing is to ignore the millenium problem and hope that it goes away or takes care of itself. This solution, however, is not reasonable and is not recommended because even the smallest Y2K problem will significantly affect a business. A very straightforward approach to solving the Y2K problem is to change every 2-digit data field to a 4-digit field. This solution, however, involves mostly manual labor and comes with a significant cost which most small businesses do not have the manpower, or resources, to accommodate.Another solution is called Bridge Programs. This solution automatically converts data fields as needed using sophisticated software. Bridge Programs are a very cost effective and fairly easy to use answer to the Y2K problem. But, Bridge Programs do have a down side; in some cases they have a reputation for causing more problems than they solve. Due to the potential problems, only trained professionals should use Bridge Programs.A fourth, and most thorough, alternative is to replace the system entirely with a newer Y2K friendly system. Few small businesses have the luxury or means for this, but in many cases it may be worth the investment. A Fifth, and best solution which encompasses all the previous solution is to hire a computer consulting agency that haas the knowledge and capabilities to deal with a variety of problems caused by Y2K. All of the solutions discussed earlier have positive and negative aspects, for this reason a combination is sometimes the best solution. The computer-consulting firms will individually assess the problems facing a business, and determine which solution or combinations of solutions are best. As the year 2000 comes closer, small businesses are facing the reality of Y2K. Although predictions of mass catastrophe have often been exaggerated, small businesses must still take Y2K seriously because the severity of the problem is still unknown. Small businesses must assess their situation and respond accordingly. Businesses that are prepared for Y2K will make the transition into the next millenium worry free.