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Life in the Fast Lane
No Fast Lane stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 6,
1999. Except for Preview (the arts and entertainment section) and
dated Survival Guide items, the issue consisted of the annual Survival
Guide, tips gathered throughout the previous year to aid those in the
workplace, entrepreneurs, and job hunters. Follow the links for
Maybe our forecast for the new millennium will be all
wrong. Maybe next year at this time we will be fighting through the
streets, taking notes on yellow legal pads (our computers won’t be
working) about mobs plundering stores for food and drink (the security
systems won’t work) and then battling traffic jams (the lights won’t
work) to get to the office.
But our forecast calls for none of that. We predict the transformation
to the year 2000 will come off with a few snags and snafus but no
calamities. A few doomsday cultists grabbing the headlines with some
sort of suicide mission will pale in comparison to the usual carnage
of holiday traffic accidents and winter weather damage.
For information processing managers the celebrated Y2K problem will
turn out to be not much of a problem at all, we predict, especially
not if those who haven’t yet addressed the problem get started now
— as our experts in this special Survival Guide issue suggest
— and take care of problems sooner rather than later.
But the new millennium, we predict, will bring with it an even more
challenging problem than that posed by tinkering with date fields.
The big challenge will be for companies large and small to take advantage
of the huge investments they are making now in converting legacy systems
to company-wide and customer-wide state-of-the-art information systems.
If a company doesn’t do it, then a competitor surely will. Someone
will be left in the dust of the 20th century.
We can envision a disgruntled customer in our industry, for example:
"You’re telling me that I can’t make a simple change in my classified
ad? Hey, buddy this is the new millennium — get with it."
The siren of the year 2000 will replace the now tired refrain dating
back to the 1960s: "How can they put a man on the moon, but they
still can’t . . . "
We had an experience the other day with American Online. The Internet
provider with the high-as-a-kite stock had E-mailed a renewal notice
to us, it claimed, though we never saw it. Then it attempted to bill
us for the new year using an old credit card number. Then a confusing
phone call was placed by a service representative. Then — with
no further notice — our service was cut off. After four phone
calls and many minutes on hold we were told that nothing about our
account could be discussed without confirming our now expired credit
card number. Nothing? we roared. "Hey, buddy, this is the eve
of the new millennium — get with it."
America Online did get with it — finally. And the rest of us will
have our own customer service challenges to face. We wish you the
best in the new year, decade, century, and millennium.
The cover article on Helping Hands (U.S. 1, December 23) is a wonderful
piece that truly expresses the nature and mission of the American
Red Cross. I want to personally thank you for the coverage, and for
choosing our volunteer Sanjay Sathe as one of the recipients of your
Helping Hands award.
When Bob Clancy took the opportunity to introduce me to your editor
at the MSM annual meeting, he paved the way for more people in our
community to learn how to translate empathy into action. The article
not only illustrates the dedication of people who volunteer with the
Red Cross. It also lets your readers know how their time and donations
help their neighbors, and people in crisis anywhere in the world.
CEO, American Red Cross
707 Alexander Road
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