issues. Enterprise-wide perspectives and nontechnical environmental impacts had to be considered. ICT managers recognized that these challenges were not unique and that the difficulties of Y2K management were symptoms of difficulties with the ongoing management of ICT: “These problems were not unique to Y2K. …They exist as part of the normal information technology day-to-day business. …We were doing business as usual, but we need to come up with a better business as usual” (AMC/HQ).
The ICT infrastructure of a large modern organization is extremely complex. The more an organization relies on information within that infrastructure to achieve its mission, the more complex its management task. In simple terms, a complex system is one in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Traditional management strategies assume that the systems being managed can be broken down into discrete component parts and clear, causal relationships among those parts. However, this assumption is no longer valid for systems that have reached a sufficient complexity. “Compared to the analytical procedure of classical science with resolution into component elements and one-way or linear causality as basic category, the investigation of organized wholes of many variables requires new categories of interaction, transaction, organization, teleology, etc., …” (IEEE 1999).
Neither ICT systems nor the organizations within which they reside are closed systems; in other words, they cannot be understood and managed independent of their interactions with other systems and, particularly, with their environment. “To conceptualize an organization as an open system is to emphasize the importance of its environment, upon which the maintenance, survival, and growth of an open system depend” (Malhotra 1999).
Under the pressures of Y2K, the need to manage ICT systems as organized wholes was even stronger than during periods of business as usual. In addition to the general complexity of ICT systems, Y2K brought into play two additional major complicating factors. First was the perception that everyone would be impacted in the same way and at the same time. “During Y2K we were doing so much sharing because we had a common enemy and a common deadline” (MITRE). Second was the perception of a specific, fixed deadline for the effort. “Y2K was different. …We had a compressed time; we had some milestones that weren’t going to change or move and [they were] related to coding and dates and what the impact would be if we didn’t fix those problems embedded within the code. Out of that we’ve learned so much more about the way we really do business and rely on one another” (AFY2KO).
The perceived combination of a common enemy and a common deadline contributed to an increased awareness of the interdependencies and shared responsibilities of the various ICT efforts across an organization. (Additional elements of the Y2K experience that contributed to this awareness are discussed below.) This in turn helped foster the idea that these functional elements of the Y2K effort needed to be brought together under a single, more encompassing management perspective, at least for the duration of the effort.
Y2K helped teach organizations that ICT management was not a piecemeal effort. Under the added stresses of the Y2K situation, the limitations of focusing on localized clusters of technology became more evident. As efforts to respond to Y2K within business-as-usual management practices were found to be insufficient or impractical, new