Learn the Y2K lesson



Neil Kell

Soapbox

The cynical opinion now says that the millennium bug was over-hyped. But this assessment dismisses the fact that a...



Neil Kell

Soapbox

The cynical opinion now says that the millennium bug was over-hyped. But this assessment dismisses the fact that a number of critical faults were detected and rectified as part of a co-ordinated nationwide effort to combat the bug.

These included potential problems with the telephone exchange, transmission links for broadcasters, supply chain problems for food retailers and problems in the police and fire services' communication systems.

The National Infrastructure Forum (NIF) was set up in the UK to ensure that key infrastructure would not suddenly be compromised because of the date change.

The NIF worked because of unprecedented co-operation between public and competing private-sector bodies, who came together because of the overriding national interest.

The Y2K process also brought other benefits - businesses audited, rationalised and upgraded IT systems. In many cases they also introduced business continuity

Culturally businesses are more aware of the need for project management skills and methodologies - Y2K brought together different corporate departments to work for a common goal.

On a wider scale, the NIF brought together public-sector bodies and competing private-sector companies.

NIF is too valuable to throw away and should be retained in some form to continue to protect the UK's vital infrastructure from other potential threats such as acts of terrorism, war and natural disasters.

It would also help tackle the dangers posed by the growing online environment such as computer viruses, hackers and cyber warfare and position the UK as a world leader in risk management and business continuity services.

Neil Kell is a senior consultant at management consultancy DBI

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