WMU News

WMU expert says small businesses at greatest Y2K risk

July 16, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- The United States appears to be in good shape overall when it comes to dealing with the Y2K computer bug. But problems at small U.S. businesses and in foreign countries could still have a big impact, according to Alan Rea, a WMU assistant professor of business information systems and an authority on Y2K.

Rea says Wall Street, branches of the federal government and large corporations have invested the time and money needed to come to grips with potential Y2K problems. But small companies and foreign countries may not be ready to meet the challenge.

"I think one thing we need to worry about when it comes to Y2K is that, no matter how prepared the United States is, anywhere in the chain link of an international transaction where there's a problem could affect us," Rea says. "Someone may manufacture widgets in Kalamazoo, and one of their suppliers in some small country that isn't Y2K compliant could affect the whole supply chain. And I think that's something that we're really not focusing on enough."

Y2K likely will cause some minor problems for many U.S. citizens, Rea says. For example, people may have to replace some of their personal technology, such as older VCRs and other appliances programmed with dates. But Rea says there will be no breakdown of the government, planes falling out of the sky or mass chaos.

Media contact: Rea can be reached at his office at 616 387-4247, or contact Mark Schwerin in the Office of University Relations, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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