17 years ago we were fast approaching the start of the new millennium. Everyone was planning for the new years party to top them all. Where were you going to be on this memorable night? 

Of more concern to me was the now long forgotten spectre of the 'millennium bug'. Way back in 1998 I joined a company that was surfing the wave of the FUD that went with the aforementioned bug. 

For those of you too young to remember, the problem was that most applications supported dates that didn't go beyond 31/12/1999. At the point at which it became 1/1/2000, the mainframe computers that supported every aspect of our life from banks to air traffic control would crash unless suitable modifications were made to all applications that stored and handled dates. The reality was that this meant pretty much every application, the key was going to be the ability to locate the date handling code and modify it accordingly.   

Many were sceptical, however few were prepared to stick their necks out and chance it. Indeed its interesting to look back at how an impending apocalypse with a deadline set in stone ensured that there was no need for legislation or punitive fines. 

I joined a company that was pedalling solutions to help identify and fix the said bug. The shares had rocketed and like a moth, I was drawn to the flame. The aforementioned company had been around for some time and just so happened to have the right solutions at the right time when the hype started. 

As we got half way through 1999, most businesses were fairly satisfied that they had got on top of things. No one was prepared to 'wing it', after all there was a sort of collective, 'were all in this together' spirit, whereby no one wanted to let the side down and make the news for all the wrong reasons.   

And guess what, the millennium dawned and nothing happened. As the world partied, their wasn't a single noteworthy story emanating from anywhere on the planet! Now I'm sure there were a few inconveniences reported locally, but nothing of any significance. 

A remarkable effort by the world's IT departments, or the ultimate example of the industries ability to hype something up? I'll leave you to decide.   

Now compare that to GDPR, something that has been on the cards for some time albeit masquerading under a slightly less catchy moniker.

If Dells recent survey is anything to go by, we have a long way to go before it garners anything like the attention and focus that came with the 'millennium bug'. My guess is that it's association with Europe makes many switch off. In the UK, the uncertainties with Brexit will no doubt cloud the issue and for anyone outside of Europe the small print will almost certainly have been overlooked.  In essence it will apply to any business that maintains data on EU citizens.  

Whilst my recollection of the 'millennium bug' is a little sketchy, I recall the mantra was, find, fix, test. 

Applying this to GDPR, finding data that is within scope of GDPR will be the foundation to successful compliance. In particular 'discovering' that which you may not know about.  Fixing will be very much a combination of getting rid of that which you really don't need and adequately protecting that which is essential to the business. Finally testing will come in the form on monitoring the data that that is within scope to ensure that the protection it is afforded is indeed working. 

To many May 2018 seems a long way off. But as we know projects have a habit of consuming the time available plus a bit more. 

And before you ask, I was laid-off late in 1999. Despite my companies best endeavours to conjure up similarly apocalyptic dates into the future, the 'millennium bug' had had its day or not as the case maybe. The upshot? I got a job in Cyber Security!