The results of a survey by taskforce 2000, the group set up by DTI to promote awareness of the 'millennium bomb' issue, and PA consulting reveal that the vast majority of organisations across the country have yet to assess their own liabilities.
Mr Taylor said:
'British companies face a big bang of crashing computers that could bring their businesses down if they fail to act now.
'This survey shows that less than a third of senior managers are fully aware of the problem, and only nine per cent of organisations have audited their systems to discover the extent of their exposure.
'The century date change has serious financial and business implications. It will bring chaos unless management takes action now To anticipate it and prevent it.
'Businesses are already encountering and using dates in the next century; in forward planning, in expiry dates or maintenance schedules - action is needed now.
'Let me remind you of progress in the public sector. A government-wide directive required all departments to have completed audits of their own systems' ability to cope with the problem by October of this year and have them corrected by December 1998.
We have been making good progress, although the process is not complete. Clearly, we may need to go further. After December 1998, all departments will need to be very careful to ensure continued Compliance.
'They will have to be scrupulous to ensure that their systems are not compromised by non-compliant data accessed from outside suppliers.'
This month Mr Taylor will write to around 100,000 UK chief executives to impress upon them the urgency and seriousness of the situation.