CENSA Reports Trillion-Dollar Losses of Legal Records Will Eclipse Y2K Problems / Recent History Killed By Today's Short-Term Thinking

"Titanic 2020," a just-released research report from CENSA, a global market development association, notes that dramatic, trillion-dollar losses of critical data and legal records will soon occur because of inadequate software infrastructures that we must fix soon. The research report points out deep design flaws in electronic preparedness for the 21st century. The report calls the Y2K computer bug "the tip of the iceberg" compared to far more serious problems that will start soon and last well beyond the year 2020. Current technology mindsets ignore the problem of creating systems for long-term preservation and access to electronic records. The result is fragile records of all kinds -- business, legal, scientific, and personal. In "Titanic 2020," researcher Dr. Rich Lysakowski notes that within ten years, the total number of electronic records produced on the planet could be doubling every sixty minutes. Simultaneously, the integrity of these records as legal evidence will be frequently violated until new systems are designed to meet the needs for long-term archiving of electronic data and legal records. The report makes a call to action to global industry to proactively solve these problems soon or else suffer major, recurring consequences much costlier than Y2K. From 1995 through 1998, individuals and corporations collectively spent more than $50 billion dollars to deal with the incompatibilities between two versions of just one widely-used software program, the report estimates. When all major automation systems are counted, the cost compounds exponentially. Today's short-term system design approaches seriously endanger or prevent long-term data access. This will cause widespread litigation due to the loss of intellectual property and failures in regulatory compliance. More importantly countless consumers will lose lifetimes of precious memories created and stored using today's computer software. Adopting new software: two steps forward, one step back Today, software usage presents users with many hurdles: as users adopt new software programs, they also incur a costly retrofit. New, feature-laden versions of software appear often, but rarely with full backward compatibility, nor do they work well with other suppliers' products. As a result, users experience perilous migrations to newer versions. Taking two steps forward often requires taking one step back to do costly and error-prone data migrations. The "Titanic 2020" report is the first to present economic models that go beyond productivity benefits of information technology (IT) to address full lifecycle costs of preserving long-term access to data and records across generations of software. Data transport: the perilous journey To be legal, an electronic record must keep its integrity -- meaning its content, structure, and context are preserved -- regardless of the technology used to create or keep the record. Today, corruption or change of data is inevitable as it moves across generations of technology, because no universal standards exist for its long-term preservation or access. Present electronic data and records standards are fragmented, fast-changing, and largely unsupported by software suppliers, primarily because support is a costly, unreliable business investment for vendors. Most high-tech standards have short lifetimes, and are not in the best interest of vendors -- if data can be migrated easily and cleanly, a customer's path to competitors is less obstructed. To prevent customer loss, full data portability is made difficult by omission of features to make it easy. This omission often results in corruption of the integrity of digital data and records during migrations across generations of technology. Change is constant in today's high-tech world -- computers are obsolete the day you buy them. In contrast, many legal records must be preserved for many decades or longer! Changing course The Call To Action will require a few important, incremental changes soon. Like most of us, information technologists don't have twenty- or fifty-year time horizons, because a long-term focus does not return big short-term paybacks yet. Large corporations need to provide incentives for IT professionals to take longer-term perspectives. Purchasing behaviors need to change to include electronic records requirements. Governments need to mandate better laws that support long-term preservation and access. Universities need to expand traditional computer and software engineering curricula to include electronic records requirements. Venture capitalists need to provide incentives to the high technology community to develop stable but flexible solutions that will extend far into the future. We need to balance innovation and time-to-profit motives with preservation and access to key intellectual assets -- the basis of "knowledge management" or intellectual capital utilization. Finally customers need to provide powerful incentives to vendors to make data interoperability, and legal record preservation and access across generations of technology a high enough priority to solve the Titanic 2020 problem. Given the IT industry's poor track record with long-term preservation and access, coupled with the recent astronomical growth of electronic records, it is inevitable that many critical legal records will be corrupted or lost inadvertently. When -- not if -- these corruptions and losses occur, they will happen on a far grander and costlier scale than ever imagined for the Y2K bug. The long-term preservation and access problem will assume center stage of the information age in the first quarter of the 21st Century. The Titanic 2020 report admonishes us to heed the Y2K warning and set our sails accordingly. The Titanic 2000 Research Report is freely available at http://www.censa.org/Titanic2020.html or in hardcopy format. CENSA, the Collaborative Electronic Notebook Systems Association (CENSA), is a global trade association of many of the world's largest corporations and government agencies as members working together to catalyze markets for advanced automation systems for R&D organizations. CENSA's market development programs focus on electronic records, knowledge management, collaborative teamwork, and systems integration for complex scientific, technical and business systems that support and drive rapid innovation. For more information, please contact: Richard Lysakowski, Ph.D. Michael J. Flannery Tel: (781) 935-9600 Info@censa.org ots Original Text Service: CENSA Internet: http://www.newsaktuell.de Contact: Richard Lysakowski, Ph.D., or Michael J. Flannery of CENSA, 781-935-9600, Info@censa.org Web site: http://www.censa.org

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