"The Sky Doesn't Fall, And It's All IT's Fault"

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), January 16, 2000


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

The Sky Doesn't Fall, And It's All IT's Fault


January 10, 2000

Sometimes I wonder why anybody works in the IT department. If computers fail, you get yelled at. If Internet or dial-up connections fail, you get yelled at. And now, if everything works well, you really get yelled at.

That's what's happening following the Y2K rollover. After all, the lights didn't go out! The airplanes didn't crash. The extra food didn't get eaten. So it was all a hoax perpetuated by IT people who just really enjoy rewriting old COBOL programs, right?

The backlash caused by the relative quiet on New Year's Eve would be laughable if it weren't so detrimental to the credibility of IT. As one IT staffer put it, it's sort of like paying a mechanic to fix your brakes, and then crying about his fees when your car doesn't go out of control.

It's a travesty, but IT departments all over the world now will have to fight to regain their credibility. Next time you warn your executives about possible failures or try to get additional resources to support a high-volume project, some unenlightened executives will wonder if you're crying wolf.

And that's a real shame. Because IT seldom cried wolf during the remediation process. Lawyers, fretting over possible lawsuits, did a lot of it. The general press, searching for the worst-case sensation, cried wolf because it never understood that business applications don't all run--let alone fail simultaneously--on a holiday weekend. And don't even get me going on that Y2K movie.

Working in IT, unfortunately, is not just about technology, but about managing users' expectations. In the case of Y2K, those expectations got out of hand. That wasn't IT's fault but, sadly, IT will take the blame. And all because they did a good job.

Y2K Losers. Inmates in an Italian prison suddenly discovered that 100 years had been added to their sentences. A video store customer in Albany, N.Y., was hit with a fee of $91,250 because his videotape was 100 years late. Customers of a small Pennsylvania plumbing-supply company that typically charges $100 to $200 received invoices for several hundred thousand dollars.

Y2K Winners. One employee at a Northeastern supply company reported receiving a paycheck for more than $1 million. But the big winner could be independent Y2K consultant Peter de Jager, who auctioned off his year2000.com Web address on eBay and received two bids for $10 million each. De Jager and Tenagra Corp., an Internet marketing company that co-owns the site, are waiting to see whether the bids are real or just eBay pranks.

On the other hand, maybe the real winners were IT departments worldwide. Although many staffers had to work through New Year's Eve, most found they had plenty of time to relax. An Australian IT group reported pulling out some videos to watch between fireworks displays on television.

"Between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., we received one call on the help line--it was a wrong number," said a staffer at the firm.

Got a pet peeve, industry view or humorous observation about our industry? E-mail it to us at stopbits@cmp.com.


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), January 16, 2000.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. (Shrug) So what else is new?

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), January 16, 2000.

Link--Did you see Byron Crawfords piece in todays C-J?

-- Johnny (jljtm@bellsouth.net), January 16, 2000.


I hadn't seen that article, but thanks for telling me about it. I'm looking at it right now--"Man isn't sorry he played Y2K safe"--about somebody from Bardstown who prepped.

-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), January 16, 2000.

"It's a travesty, but IT departments all over the world now will have to fight to regain their credibility. Next time you warn your executives about possible failures or try to get additional resources to support a high-volume project, some unenlightened executives will wonder if you're crying wolf."

Interesting point.

I'm curious: Have IT professionals here on TB felt any attitude of suspicion from executives since the Big Midnight? Any anecdotal stories about reactions from execs since the relatively uneventful rollover? Congratulations? Perplexed interrogation? Any "I knew all along it was no biggie" told-ya-so's?

Did anybody get bonuses or raises (well-deserved by the industry, I'd say) for the job well-done?

-- (resolved@this.point), January 16, 2000.

At my intstitution we spent hundreds of hours and millions of dollars preparing for Y2K.

We (and I) believed that it would be careless and inappropriate not to do so. Like many other places, some stuff needed replacing and checking anyway; Y2K was a good excuse. We never thought it would precipitate doom.

We (and I) have had nothing but praise for our IT staff.

We (and I) intend to move on now. It is irrelevant whether prior Y2K predictions were right. It is counterproductive to perseverate on making a case for Y2K being an ongoing issue. It is certainly AN issue for SOME systems still, but if you cannot put it into perspective now, you will certainly misplace priorities.

-- ImSo (happy@prepped.com), January 16, 2000.

Lessons learned.

Thanks Linkmeister. What happens when the 90-day moratorium passes?

Just a thought.

One way the IT community can help the issue is to discuss all the ways things could have failed, and their specific experiences in testing. Might make some executives grateful, and might make others aware that this was a "very real" problem with unknown impact.

Win-win for all involved, IMHO. And would make a good ending for the story of the Century.

Also, Linkmeister, haven't read this yet myself (maybe this evening), but the feedback on the GICC and [civicprep] lists is that it's worth the read... from an dot gov IT perspective...

Dot Gov Year 2000 Silverlinings Report (The Office of Intergovernmental Solutions)

http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 002K85


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), January 16, 2000.

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