The Times, London

17th April, 1997

Eric Reguly

'Millennium time bomb' alarms Reuters

REUTERS admitted yesterday that even its newest and most sophisticated information products could be badly hit by the "millennium time bomb". The company also said new product launches could be delayed because of the difficulties in coping with the change of century.

Peter Job, chief executive, told the annual meeting in London that computer problems in recognising the year 2000 were "a very serious issue with wide ramifications".

Reuters is one of the first companies to admit the potential for damage that the millennium brings. Computer experts have said that a global computer meltdown is possible unless corporations ensure their computer software systems are ready for the date change. But companies have been slow to acknowledge the scale of the potential disaster.

Reuters is reviewing the 3000 Series of financial information products, successor to the widely used 2000 Series, to ensure that they will be able to recognise dates starting in 2000.

The millennium warning came as Accountancy Age magazine reported that more than a third of the country's finance directors have not yet assessed whether their companies' computers will work after the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 1999.

The cost of solving the problem has been estimated at more than £30 billion in the UK and £400 billion globally.

Reuters has set up a committee, which includes four executive directors, to review the issue. A spokesman said: "We want to make sure that our systems, both internally and externally, can operate without disruption in 2000."

© Copyright The Times Newspapers Ltd 1997

This story shows that, in many companies, management time, which might otherwise be spent on product and business development, will be devoted to fire-fighting. Monies that might have been spent on new systems and technologies may have to be spent on fixing problems in existing systems.

[Year 2000 Date Problem - Index Page]