Due in large part to a lack of buy-in from senior management, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia are at risk of failing to achieve year 2000 compliance in time, creating a sense of "widespread panic" in the region, according to a participant at the Y2K Solution Show held in Hong Kong this week.
Hong Kong people came in droves to the three-day exhibition and seminar at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre looking for answers to their Y2K queries and problems as the date draws inevitably nearer.
A lot of companies in the region have not even started planning for Y2K, according to Steven Hong, general manager of France-based Cyrano, a developer of quality and performance testing software.
"They know they have a problem but they don't know what to do about it," Hong said, adding that in their panic a lot of companies are falling back on a replacement strategy.
However, companies "don't realise that even if they replace an old system with a new one it's going to take time to implement," Hong said.
Until now, one of the biggest problems behind Y2K denial in Asia has been management, Hong said, after speaking with representatives from companies around the region, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
"I've spoken to quite a few IT managers and directors and the frustration is that they know the problem ... (but) they're not getting management's support to do something about it," Hong said, adding that SMEs are at greatest risk.
And the problems don't stop there, according to Tom O'Sullivan Cyrano's technical director in Asia-Pacific.
Even if companies have started their fixes for the millennium, they're still at risk of introducing more problems, O'Sullivan said.
"One of the biggest problems we've found as we help people do their year 2000 projects is that as they go and modify their code - fix the year 2000 problem - they introduce more errors unrelated to the date code," O'Sullivan said.
Whenever a programmer manually changes code, whether doing a fix or adding functionality, there is potential for introducing other errors, O'Sullivan explained.
To address the issue, Cyrano is touting its Millennium Test product - a tool that automates Year 2000 testing of character-based, business-critical applications.
Millennium Test validates applications and layered software without accessing the source code, officials said. The product runs on Compaq/Digital's OpenVMS, Hewlett-Packard's HP3000 MPE, and the Unix platforms of Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM, and Compaq/Digital.
Another feature of the product is the ability to maintain a complete audit trail of all simulations and provide comprehensive reporting that can be used to prove -- if necessary -- that systems have been tested and that all reasonable steps have been taken for Y2K compliance.
With an audit trail, "you'll be able to show in court when you're being sued that you tested all of these business functions for all of these dates," O'Sullivan said.