Desktops are not immune to year 2000

Desktops are not immune to year 2000

-- If your year 2000 work is nearly complete on your customers' mainframes, congratulations. You may now begin worrying about how to check and fix the date-sensitive data in thousands of desktop spreadsheets and databases across these companies.

The year 2000 risk that critical desktop spreadsheets and databases face has been underplayed by major office software vendors until recently, said Bruce Hartsough, senior vice president of end-user computing at US bank Wells Fargo & Co.

"Every spreadsheet is potentially relevant to a customer until proved otherwise," said Hartsough, whose bank has more than 20,000 PCs.

With as many as 10 spreadsheets, databases or other user-created applications per user, organisations may find denial a tempting mind-set, said Gartner Group analyst Simon Levin. Most companies vastly underestimate the extent of the potential problem, he said, and "we've had people who just avoid the issue completely."

To manage the problem, companies should inventory desktops and applications and then triage on the basis of risk, Levin said. Most applications by far will be unimportant or won't have problems, he said.

The other part of managing the desktop year 2000 search is to ask end users to fix their own applications. Fixes need to be done manually, but an emerging class of tools can flag problem areas and guide end users to them, Levin said.

In many cases, just dates and formulas -- which users enter anyhow -- need to be fixed.

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