The other day at Loftware a bunch of us were sitting around the conference room recalling the whole Y2K fiasco. The point of the conversation was whether or not we could get people as aware of the GS1 global deadline as people were aware of the Y2K problem. The hype around that possible eventuality had everyone worried that a minor programming glitch would have airplanes falling out of the sky and elevators stopping in high rises worldwide at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve 2000. Trouble is, I was there. Nothing happened. Hype triumphed over reality. And that explains why a direct Y2K analogy to GS1 deadlines won’t compel anyone to worry about anything.
But in this case, there’s a difference, and perhaps the best analogy I can find is February 17, 2009. That’s the day analog television sets go to dark… permanently, unless fitted with a set-top box. This isn’t an event that might happen. It’s going to happen. Unlike Y2K, we know exactly why it is going to happen, too. If you recall the old Y2K scare, no one could tell you it was absolutely going to occur. Here from a May 27th article in the New York Times, is a preview of what’s to come:
NEARLY 25 million homes have at least one television set that will stop functioning in nine months, when the nation converts to digital over-the-air television. You really should read the whole piece if you want to know what a disaster this is going to be, and we’re just talking about television.
Now on January 1, 2010 something else is going to happen and we know exactly why. That’s the day GS1 set for everyone to be more or less on board around the world with the new standard. After that, a lot of product is going to build up along the borders of sovereign nations. Much of it isn’t going to reach a cash register or checkbook-toting procurement officer after that date unless it is GS1 compliant.
The question is whether or not product suppliers are going to be as surprised and unprepared as analog television set owners are when nothing but snow shows up on the screen?
To be direct: what will you do when product sales plummet to zero because you can’t move, ship or sell the product until it has the right GS1 label on it?
How is it possible that something this important, this newsworthy, isn’t making the news?