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Tuesday, September 28, 1999 Published at 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK


Business

Bug warning for small firms

Many small firms have ignored the warnings

Most small and medium-sized firms are on track to beat the millennium computer bug but a worrying number are still at risk, according to Action 2000.

Bugtown UK
Bugworld
The number ready for the millennium has risen eight per cent since the last survey, to 73%.

But the government-backed body warns that more than a quarter of small businesses still have "a considerable amount" of work to do, in its latest report due to be published on Tuesday.


BBC News' Emma Simpson: Large firms' unreadiness poses biggest threat
Most worrying were the very smallest firms, making up a "critical minority" within the wider business sector, said Don Cruickshank, director of Action 2000.

"Those who have done next to nothing will face problems with suppliers and customers alike, which could cause their businesses to fail," said Mr Cruickshank.

Of particular concern were businesses employing between 20 and 29 staff, with only 65% of companies in this category having complied with millennium requirements.

'Extremely disappointing'

Mr Cruickshank warned that the greatest threat will be posed by multiple small failures adding to the normal disruptions that occur at that time of year, such as New Year holidays, sickness and bad weather.

The organisation's director described as "extremely disappointing" the fact that 37% of small and medium-sized companies thought it unnecessary to develop contingency plans.

Action 2000 said it was sending a "Last Chance Guide" to 1.3 million businesses to help them with their contingency planning.

The problem arises because many computers have been programmed to recognise the year by the last two digits.

At the end of the year, when the year moves from 99 to 00, many computers may crash or malfunction by thinking it is 1900.



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