In this paper we wish to examine the phenomenon of Y2K as an instance of information systems failure. Taking this particular stance on the issue leads we feel to a number of interesting areas that demand further investigation. We first review the current phenomenon of Y2K and discuss some of the relevant work in the area of IS failure. The topic of IS failure has tended to concentrate on issues of success or failure in relation to one specific IS project. We highlight a number of ways in which Y2K can be characterised as a particularly unique and interesting instance of IS failure. In one sense Y2K can be characterised merely as a technological failure and the responses to it merely of a technical kind. However Y2K, and the responses taken to it are of interest also on the organisational, societal, and economic level. It is therefore a phenomenon of primary concern to the IS academic. We raise a number of issues posed by our examination of Y2K that demand further investigation by IS academics. Y2K and the panic that it has generated can be seen as a clear demonstration of the degree to which IS/IT is closely embedded within modern organisations. However, there is preliminary evidence that Y2K has had an effect on the relationship between the IS/IT function and organisations. We particularly raise questions of its effect on IS strategy and planning, outsourcing and the IS development portfolio of organisations.
Beynon-Davies, Paul; Lloyd-Williams, Michael; and Owens, Ian, "The Millenium Problem as a Form of Information Systems Failure" (2000). ECIS 2000 Proceedings. 177.