Cap Gemini: Fewer Than Half of Major Firms Anticipate Full Year 2000 Compliance in Critical Systems by Full Year 2000 Compliance in Critical Systems by Year's End : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Can't remember if this was posted before.

(Such a busy month)

Apologies if it's already been bantered about.


-- FM (, August 26, 1999


Sorry for the garbled headline:

(I'm also "cut-and-past" challenged today)


-- FM (, August 26, 1999.

Sorry for the garbled headline:

(I'm also "cut-and-paste" challenged today)


-- FM (, August 26, 1999.

Uh. . .

Forget about it.

(Methinks I need a NAP!!!)

:( :( :(

-- FM (, August 26, 1999.


An article about the Cap Gemini America survey was posted on this thread earlier in the month...

...but having the link to what Cap Gemini America itself has to say about this is important. Hoffmeister had suggested that this survey was talking about compliance of all of a firm's systems and not just critical ones. But the link you provided to Cap Gemini America's site does use the phrase "critical systems":

If the use of the phrase "critical systems" was an error, Cap Gemini has not bothered changing it in the two weeks or so since this was released.

-- Linkmeister (, August 26, 1999.

I remember the debate about the critical system designation. At the time I thought that it had become so common for companies to use this hedge that it was not necessary to qualify the stataments any more.

The first line of the report now says "critical systems". I wonder what Hoff thinks now?

-- Mike Lang (, August 26, 1999.

I saw the August 10th PR (Press Release) Wire from Cap Gemini itself. They were definitely talking about just mission-critical systems, NOT all systems. Also, in a "Newsbytes" article that somebody posted days or weeks ago, Dr. Howard Rubin, one of the top computer scientists in the U.S. and the man who oversaw this latest study for Cap Gemini America, said that, well, shucks, at least the "most critical of the critical systems" look to be done.

In other words, the patient with the head wound may survive; we won't talk about the patient with the chest wound. Golly gee, boys and girls, ain't that grand news? And it's my understanding that the domain of systems classified as "mission critical" in most large enterprises these days constitutes, on average, supposedly only a rather small minority of all computer systems, as everybody is desperately trying to do "triage" on what they absolutely positively gotta have to perform daily business operations.

In the "Newsbytes" article, Rubin, the former lead computer consultant to the feds and the fellow who originally briefed both Clinton and Gore on Y2K (the latter was "barely educable," Rubin later said), tried to put the best possible face on some very bad news: The tremendous slippage in Y2K deadlines by the Fortune 500 is not "major cause" for concern, he said, because most companies had set a June deadline for themselves to allow a six-month "buffer zone" for additional needed repairs. I can partly understand the human, all-too-human motivation for making this statement, but the plain, sad fact is that Dr. Rubin's "reassurance" makes absolutely no sense since the "Newsbytes" article, and all the other news articles I've seen on this survey, plus Cap Gemini's own press release, makes it abundantly clear that what is being reported, apparently by the Fortune 500 companies themselves, is what won't be done by 1/1/2000. And let's refresh our memory on just what those numbers are: 2% of the Fortune 500 companies won't get even 50% of their critical systems ready to go in time; 18% of the Fortune 500 will get 51-75% of their critical systems ready; and 36% of the Fortune 500 will get 76-99% of their critical systems ready. Unless my math is wrong, that's roughly 10 Fortune 500 companies that look to be dead meat (if software industry records have ANY validity); another 90 companies that are in enormous trouble; and yet another 180 companies that can expect some quite serious disruptions, though obviously it matters a great deal whether an individual company is closer to the 76% or to the 99% completion figure. (We won't even talk about supposedly "fixed and tested" systems that may be plagued by rather high rates of "residual errors"--see the latest GartnerGroup report for some rather disturbing news on that front, based on actual results in the field: 5-9% error rate in fully fixed AND fully tested LOC; and 8-15% rates for "fixed" lines that received less-than-full testing.)

Am I missing something here? Maybe all those unready mission-critical systems in the Fortune 500 corporations really don't matter after all? What the hell, the corporations didn't need them in the first place, right? But then I wonder about the GartnerGroup's famous COMPARE scale, where level 4 is defined as having "operational sustainability" and one of the prerequisites for having THAT is having all your mission-critical systems remediated, tested, and ready to go (which is maybe why the feds have put such extreme emphasis upon getting THEIR critical systems ready to go, even if it means counting only 6,100 systems out of 73,000 systems to meet that criterion--granted, those 6,100 systems are the core, biggest systems). Now, I don't know whether or not the good folks at Cap Gemini America have a scale similar to Gartner's COMPARE, but I have to believe that behind closed doors Dr. Rubin is feeling rather sick these days.

Or hey, maybe not having "operational sustainability" doesn't really mean not having "operational sustainability"? Maybe it just means "no problemo." Lexicons have gotten rather illogical these days, it seems.

Remember, these are the Fortune 500 companies we are talking about--the glory outfits that are supposed to be leading the world in Y2K progress. The wider implications here are staggering.

I would dearly love to know just what questions Cap Gemini America asked to get these answers. And if these results, dire as they are, are largely self-reported, then the truth of the matter could be a considerably worse, unfortunately. Remember, Cap Gemini America is now saying that 54% of the Fortune 500 won't be ready with all their mission-critical systems in time; in May, just three months ago, the figure was "only" 22%. It rather looks as though some ugly truth is coming out at last; given this trend, one has to wonder what the blasted November survey will show. It may have all of us choking on our turkey.

As everyone knows who has followed my posts, I have generally taken a middle position on Y2K; in my supposedly "farewell" post to this forum some weeks ago, I tentatively opined, based on 15 months of fairly intense research (including looking at more documents than anybody should have to look at), that Y2K was most likely to be a 6-7 on the WDCY2K scale in the U.S. (i.e., moderate to serious recession with some localized infrastructure disruptions possible, mostly of short duration), though this was a "bell curve" prediction with both considerable upside AND (alack and alas) downside potential. My assessment took into account a still-fragile global economy, certain underlying weaknesses in a supposedly robust American economy, and an absurdly inflated (by even the Fed's own stock valuation model) U.S. stock market. Incidentally, my position also seems to be about where Bruce Webster, chair of the WDC Year 2000 Users Group (the largest, oldest, and most respected of such groups), is at these days. I note that this Users Group, many of whose members head or are directly involved in major govt. and corporate Y2K projects, will be holding a series of critical meetings (presumably with subsequent full reports) around the middle of each of the next four months. I strongly advise keeping an eye on what comes out of those meetings and reports; the website is

Anyway, as stated, my position on Y2K has usually been a fairly moderate one; but the more I think about this Cap Gemini survey (which got relatively little discussion on this forum and on the Net generally, and was widely ignored in the "mainstream" media outlets), the more squeamish I get. IF (big IF) this survey is accurate, or even remotely close to being accurate, then I am forced to conclude that we are in a helluva lot of trouble--and I say that as somebody who does NOT own a gun or gold, or have bags of rice and beans in the basement. I now find myself doubting "progress reports" in various other sectors as well, though I continue to believe (hope?) that the biggest Y2K hits in the U.S. will be economic, not major infrastructure ones. But who knows? Who the hell really knows?

Well, I had resolved never to post on this forum again (having gotten too sick and tired of the politics and "spin" from all sides, the anonymous posts, the game playing, etc.)--and I'll be damned if I ever do it again. Occasional lurking seems infinitely more preferable. But with just four months to go, and with my mouth still agape after all this time at just what this Cap Gemini America survey apparently shows, I felt it necessary to make one last observation. I have tried for several weeks to come up with a "happy" interpretation of this survey. I can't. Dr. Rubin and Cap Gemini America have stellar reputations; Cap Gemini itself was recently awarded "best company in Europe" honors. The only consolation/hope I can offer is that perhaps many or most of those "unready" critical systems will be close enough to "ready" to let the respective companies muddle through. Over 85% of Fortune 500 companies are reportedly developing "crisis management centers" and contingency plans, including, presumably, manual workaround operational plans. Nevertheless, at the very least, this survey suggests a major loss in productivity and efficiency for an alarming number of big U.S. companies--and then you start getting the ripple effects.

Best of luck to all, no matter what your position is on this issue or what preparations you have made or haven't made. Something tells me we are all going to need all the luck we can get.

-- Don Florence (, August 26, 1999.

P.S. In the news reports, there is some confusion as to whether the 2% of companies that won't get even 50% of critical systems ready in time are a subset of, or instead are distinct from, the 18% of companies that won't get even 76% of critical systems ready. (Then there are the 36% of companies that will get 76-99% done--clearly a different category all together.) I read the 2% as being distinct from the 18%, so I really should have said this totaled 56% of Fortune 500 companies not getting all mission-critical systems ready; if you read the 2% as a subset of the 18%, then the overall number not ready would be 54%, obviously. I also think I saw one news article where the total not ready was given as 52%. Go figure.

-- Don Florence (, August 26, 1999.


That's a nice piece of writing and analysis. As disturbing as it was, it was a pleasure to read. It makes my countless hours of lurking through these (mostly) useless ramblings worth the time.

You ready to get some preps in the house yet?

And never say never about posting here again. Some of us can use you here.

-- Semper Paratus (please@post.again), August 26, 1999.


Thanks for your response. Despite my initial bumbling, I now realize--having read through your response--it was a worthwhile post.

Three questions:

Has Rubin been interviewed by anyone lately?

Is your email address real?

Would you please (even if it's your last post) supply us with a bit of your background?

I think you've written something potentially of significance, and it might be beneficial to put the author in context.

An aside--when I read this today--my first thought had to do with the exponential impact.

Thanks for your observations.

I, too, hope you will post again, or at least communicate privately with some of us.


-- FM (, August 26, 1999.

I seem to be cutting and pasting all over the place today. not intended as a P.S. to my last post--is a Website I'd like to remember.

So, maybe not such a bad mistake?


-- FM (, August 26, 1999.


Here's another cut and paste that apparently contains the Cap Gemini survey questions you were interested in seeing, Don.

I always reserve the right to be wrong, but. . .

Please report back?


-- FM (, August 26, 1999.

FM, Don,

Sincere thanks for the posts. I seem to have missed the original July report.


My 9 year old son asked about Y2K today. It seems that the subject came up in his Social Studies class. I found myself giving him a polly response. I told him that a lot of smart people are working on it. Et cetera.

I felt (and still feel) that it's not my job to make him feel unsafe. It brought new meaning to me for the tired old phrase:

"Quiet Desperation".

-- Spindoc' (, August 27, 1999.

OK, a final "final" post to address FM's questions above.

The Cap Gemini press release was August 10th; the "Newsbytes" story I referenced was dated August 12th; I know of no further public comments by Dr. Rubin in the two weeks since. A major mainstream investigative journalist obviously needs to interview Dr. Rubin and Cap Gemini America in some detail about all of this.

My name and email address are legit. In fact, if you plug my name into any decent search engine, you will get at least a few "hits" for me--and for a ML baseball pitcher by the same name. The hits for me will be for a book, "Persona and Humor in Mark Twain's Early Writings" (U. of Missouri P., 1995), available in most university libraries for anybody wanting to see what my alter ego is like (and wanting to waste some time). Also, anybody is welcome to email me about Y2K or whatever.

Background: Ph.D., English, U. of Illinois, plus a few years of graduate business school once upon a time (an eye opener). Limited exposure to Basic many years ago; found it incredibly boring; my apologies and condolences to programmers everywhere. I've had assorted strong scientific interests since a youngster (was the best science student and second-best math student in my high school, a good one); have always scored higher in quantitative/analytical sections of standardized tests than in verbal sections, ironically enough; in college the choice was between going after a doctorate in astrophysics or one in English--how's that for utter impracticality? Have little interest in computers per se, except as research/correspondence tools and chess opponents (have Rebel 9.0 loaded on my PC, which, even with my slow processor, has a FIDE rating over 2400). Motivation for having spent a lot of time researching Y2K: deep concern. Most of my research has tended to focus on economic/financial issues (another personal interest) related to possible Y2K threats; I've also corresponded on occasion with Yardeni, Yourdon, Cowles, Martin, Frautschi, etc., especially the first two. With a good memory for numbers and a few statistics courses under my belt (and a couple of Jones's books on software metrics, to boot), I've tried to get a rough managerial/statistical overview of what in blazes is going on--difficult to do, given the amount of conflicting or ambiguous data out there, plus all the fudging, PR, political spin, etc. If there is anybody out there who really has a handle on this thing, I have not yet encountered that divine/demonic soul. Anyway, it's obvious that I have to rely upon the explanations and arguments of others (programmers, systems analysts, engineers, technicians, etc.) for the more technical details, which I have invariably done. I have always relied upon the kindness of strangers.

Speaking of which, thanks, FM, for finding the link to the survey questions; I had looked under Cap Gemini/Cap Gemini America, instead of checking Rubin's own website. Unfortunately, it's in a zipped file, which I can't unzip (bad download of NetZip once upon a time, which haunts me to this day; tried both browsers); if you or somebody else could unzip it and email the file to me, or give me a concise summary of the questions, I'd be appreciative.

My primary "professional" interest these days is humor; my academic specialization is American literature and humor. Y2K has certainly put a crimp in that. Try, just try, writing humor, or writing about humor, after reading, say, the latest Cap Gemini America survey results.

Fascinating trivia point: Ed Yourdon was born in Roswell, New Mexico, and Rick Cowles grew up there. (And I've visited there; I live in Truth or Consequences, NM. No joke.) Hey, "conspiracy buffs," one and all. No doubt Y2K is a space alien plot designed to prepare the way for an ET invasion. (Coming to an Art Bell radio show soon.)

Alas, Y2K is just a quite boring, but quite serious, threat.

-- Don Florence (, August 27, 1999.

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