Good Y2K Corporate Communications?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
I'm doing some research on the subject of Y2K "corporate communications" -- i.e., what kind of communications should companies (and goverment agencies) be providing about Y2K to their customers, their vendors and suppliers, their employees, and the community in which they operate? Some of this may take the form of letters, memos, pamphlets, and brochures; but another obvious form of communication is the Y2K section of an organization's web site.
I'm curious to know if any of you have seen any GOOD examples of such communications from companies you know of. Most of what I've seen so far consists of little more than "we know about Y2K, we're working on it, and our senior management is highly optimistic." But a few organizations have said "If you have any questions about our Y2K status, here are the various ways of contacting us by phone, fax, email". One or two have said, "By the way, here's what we think YOU should be doing about Y2K." Of the half-dozen banks whose web sites I've visited, Bank of America (http://www.bankamerica.com) seems to be the best; and of the half-dozen telecommunication vendors I've visited, AT&T (http://www.att.com) seems to be the best. Others, by contrast, are truly awful.
I'm also very interested in the concept of organizations behaving as "good corporate citizens" -- e.g., helping the community to raise Y2K awareness, working with city officials to develop Y2K contingency plans, providing money or resources to local community groups who want to pursue Y2K plans, etc. So far, I have not found any good examples.
If you have any good examples, I'd appreciate it if you could post them here; others on the forum could probably use them to help raise awareness about this issue in their own community, and with the companies they care about.
-- Ed Yourdon (email@example.com), October 11, 1998
In the Philadelphia region, the silence is deafening. After compiling your list, please give us a URL to it.
-- R. D..Herring (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 11, 1998.
I found Bell South's Y2K information page interesting:
I'm sure you already know about EDS's Vendor/2000 page?
-- Gayla Dunbar (email@example.com), October 11, 1998.
I have found very little in the way of effective communication from most companies we've surveyed. Just last week we were checking out a practice management package for one of our physician clients. The software company has their Y2K ready version out for the Unix solution, but the other platforms are either in beta or further off. The guy I talked with actually lied outright about their being ready. Only when I informed him that we knew his current status did he admit that their other products were not ready. (He got quite upset with me as well!)
I think you're going to have a difficult time finding more than a few examples of good communications.
One note: my wife's mother is head assistant to Y2K project director for a fairly large regional bank. She says they're making good progress, but even she can't find out "true" information. Recently, all the top brass meetings began to be held behind closed doors, and even she is not allowed in. That can't be great news.
-- Greg Sugg (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 11, 1998.
Ed (and others),
I recieved a beautifully produced portfolio package from the Coca-Cola Company. (My company does brand and packaging design for them and others) It was called "Keeping Us Competetive in the New Millennium" and dated March 16, 1998.
The cover letter said:
bla, bla...We must assess our computer systems and facilities...we are not facing this challenge alone...as a supplier/vendor, you are important to our business...as part of Coca-Cola's value chain, we ask that you fill out the attached forms. These forms will help us determine the impact...(and most interestingly) Although this information is sensitive, and will be treated as such, in an effort to minimize the number of inquiries from the Coca-Cola system participants, with your permission, by signing this checklist, we will provide this information with our bottling system participants...
It was signed by the Global Communications Manager, and the Director of Business Information and Planning, Global Procurement and Trading.
Then there was a four page checklist which asked questions about Awareness, Inventory, Assessment, Conversion, Testing and Implementation/Production. It asks about Systems Reviewed and Checked for compliancy, Business Contingeny Plans and Recontamination Prevention Plans. It asks about EDS, Telecom, Office Equipment, Environmental, Security, and Transportation.
All in all it was quite a good package, and comforting to know that a major player is at least appearing to take such a thourough approach. There was not, however, any indication of the status of their systems, or any indication for how that information could be obtained. Oh, yea, and if we filled out the questionaire, they would send a free Coca- Cola 2000 pin!!
Of course, this is the only thing that I've seen voluntarily,good or bad. I've gotten a few lawyer approved letters from vendors, (upon request) but I don't take them too seriously...
-- pshannon (email@example.com), October 12, 1998.
The best form of communication is a statement to the effect that they are installing a y2k compliant system. The West Sussex County Library! here in the UK did so back in July. They announced in the local paper and postings in the Library that they were doing so. They closed down the library for 2 days "to train staff". After a couple of weeks of glitches it was working OK. Still have yet to borrow a book in y2k.....
-- Richard Dale (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 12, 1998.
Our company received this from TIAA-CREF, one of the largest (maybe the largest? ) pension funds in the world:
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund
730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 100 17-3206 212 490-9000 1 800 842-2733
WARRANTY CONCERNING YEAR 2000
TO: TIAA-CREF PARTICIPATING INSTITUTIONS
FROM: Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association
College Retirement Equities Fund
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and College Retirement Equities Fund (hereinafter "TIAA-CREF") represent and warrant that their systems will, under normal use and service, record, store, process, and present calendar dates falling on or after January 1, 2000, in the same manner, and with the same functionality, data integrity, and performance, as TIAA-CREF's systems record, store, process, and present calendar dates on or before December 31, 1999. This Warranty is expressly limited to TIAA-CREF's processing of data for participating institutions' employee benefit plans serviced by TIAA-CREF. This Warranty is made solely for the benefit of TIAA-CREF participating institutions; it does not apply to vendors, service providers, financial institutions or any other third parties or to any matters beyond TIAA-CREF's reasonable control.
TIAA-CREF has taken steps to ensure that all of TIAA-CREF's mainframe, midrange and personal computer systems as well as their external and internal interfaces, equipment, and forms, are Year 2000 compliant. TIAA-CREF represents and warrants that the arrival of the new millennium will not cause any loss of benefits to TIAA-CREF participants or beneficiaries.
FOR: Teachers Insurance and-Annuity-Association College Retirement Equities Fund
-- Buddy Y. (DC) (email@example.com), October 13, 1998.
So I guess that means that if the pension fund makes errors now, it has to keep on making them after year 2000? 8<)
-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 13, 1998.
Yesterday (Oct. 16th) there was a Reuters story that five financial institutions--Merrill Lynch, Citibank, J. P. Morgan, DBS Bank (Singapore), and UBS Bank (Switzerland)--are going to start providing on the Web detailed assessments of their Y2K progress. This is in coordination with Global 2000, an organization overseeing Y2K work among financial institutions in 37 countries. Perhaps it's beginning to dawn upon the powers-that-be that vague generalities and bland assurances, while beloved of corporate attorneys, are becoming less and less effective in satisfying critics and even the general public. I shall be especially interested in Merrill Lynch's stats. This is the same outfit that produced a report in mid-summer assuring us that the vast majority of companies worldwide (even in Latin America!) would be fully ready for 2000; it seems that ML's stock analysts got on the phone and asked CEOs and CFOs "how ya doin' on Y2K?" When I complained to ML about the lack of rigor in this approach and noted that their "results" differed dramatically from those of, say, the Gartner Group, ML referred me to an earlier Web page wherein they discussed (in more pessimistic terms) Y2K as a very serious challenge. I guess ML aims to please. My suspicion is that anybody looking for true transparency and objectivity on the Y2K issue from corporations is likely to be disappointed.
-- Don Florence (email@example.com), October 17, 1998.