During a presentation at All Star I heard the following comment. "Remember Y2K? Everyone said the world was going to come to an end. I was losing sleep. I figured I should party like it was 1999. And then nothing happened."
I have heard such comments from lots of other sources in the real world – talk show hosts, comedians, business people, etc. And this time it happened to come from a non-auditor. But that doesn't mean I haven't also heard internal auditors make similar remarks. And I have also heard auditors talk about the time we wasted on Y2K.
And I find it all to be an incredible disservice to the work that occurred.
Maybe I'm wrong on this one, but I think Y2K became a non-event because of all the work organizations, in particular auditors, did prior to the year 2000. I watched a lot of people doing a lot of work going over code and recoding and, basically, devoting hours and days and months to the project of ensuring that programs would continue to run.
And, along came the year 2000, and the programs ran, and nothing went wrong.
Maybe I just don't understand, but isn't the reason we think nothing happened because so much happened before the event?
I'm not going to try and change the perception. I won't walk up to speakers and tell them to get their facts straight, I am not going to argue with people who make the jokes, and I'm not going to take it on as a personal vendetta to get back at those who make fun of our work.
But I do consider it one of the most significant achievements of our profession that the solution to the Y2K issue went so smoothly that no one knows we did all that work. And doesn't that really get to what we should always strive for? We are at our most successful when people don't realize we have done anything.
It reminds me of a quote from Futurama. "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."