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Y2K Fears

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A survey released yesterday at the World Congress on Information Technology in Fairfax, VA, shows that 80% of Americans are concerned that their financial records may be distorted due to Year 2000 computer related failures. According to the new ‘Wirthlin Worldwide’ poll commissioned by the Information Technology Association of America, one out of four Americans believe such 2000 failures will force them to undergo lifestyle changes. The study also showed that 72% believe there will be business losses, 68% anticipate possible telephone disruptions, 64% fear power outages, 56% worry that they may lose their jobs and 42% foresee shortages of products or merchandise.

FULL STORY:
Almost one in four Americans believe that Year 2000 computer related failures may force them to undergo lifestyle changes, according to a new Wirthlin Worldwide poll commissioned by the Information Technology Association of America.

Released yesterday at the World Congress on Information Technology in Fairfax, VA, the survey finds half of those polled believe elected officials and business leaders are not doing enough to address the Year 2000 issue. The three top reasons cited by respondents for this are that the computer industry will fix the situation when the time comes; that businesses are too busy making money; and that there are too many other problems to solve.

The Year 2000 (or Y2K) challenge relates to the inability of computers and other intelligent devices to interpret the century from information coded in software. As the calendar flips to the Year 2000, computer programs not adjusted to recognize the new century are apt to fail or to make erroneous computations.

“That one in four Americans is now concerned about the Year 2000 is a compelling fact. Just one year ago, a reference to the Year 2000 would have brought blank stares or an image of Times Square at midnight. Americans are beginning to worry and it is time for our elected officials and business leaders to wake up,” said ITAA President Harris Miller.

Of those expecting Y2K-induced lifestyle changes, the ITAA/Wirthlin poll indicates:

— 80 percent are concerned that their financial records may be distorted
— 72 percent believe there will be business losses
— 68 percent anticipate possible telephone disruptions
— 64 percent fear power outages
— 56 percent worry that they may lose their jobs
— 42 percent foresee shortages of products or merchandise

Poll data also suggests that those individuals with the most to lose as the result of Year 2000 failures appear to be the least interested. For instance, those individuals earning over $60,000 per year seem far less concerned about the issue than those earning under $15,000. Eighteen percent of those in the highest wage category indicated concerns about lifestyle changes as compared to 34 percent in the lowest wage category. Those with a college education were similarly less likely to be concerned about the personal impacts of the computer date glitch. Similarly, 90 percent of the Y2K concerned group with some high school education fear business losses as compared to 52 percent of those with post graduate degrees; 73 percent of the former group expressed concerns about job losses versus 40 percent of the latter group. Better educated Americans also appear to be more satisfied that those in charge are taking the necessary steps to correct the problem. Fifty-two percent of those with post graduate degrees and 48 percent of those with college degrees indicated enough is being done; only 20 percent of those with some high school agree. These results are drawn from the Wirthlin National Quorum. The Quorum is a telephone survey based on a representative random sample consisting of 1000 adults residing within the continental U.S.

The ITAA/Wirthlin poll results are strongly reinforced by a second Year 2000 survey, conducted by ITAA of World Congress attendees. The ITAA IndustryPulse results show that 61.7 percent of these global information technology executives foresee a significant impact from the Year 2000. Fifty percent of respondents believe national governments are not doing everything possible to address the issue.

ITAA consists of 11,000 direct and affiliate members throughout the U.S. which produce products and services in the IT industry. The Association plays a leading role in public policy issues of concern to the IT industry, including taxes, intellectual property, telecommunications law, encryption, securities litigation reform, and human resources policy. ITAA members range from the smallest IT start ups to industry leaders in the software, services, systems integration, telecommunications, Internet, and computer consulting fields. Learn more about ITAA and its positions on the issues by connecting to its web site at http://www.itaa.org.

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