Why companies struggle with recalcitrant IT

IT IS SUPPOSED to be the “Tesla killer”. Volkswagen’s new ID.3 is the firm’s first mass-produced all-electric car—and the first step in the German carmaker’s attempts to reinvent itself for an electrified world. That makes it perhaps the most important model since the original Golf, launched in 1976. The ID.3 is also late. Mechanically, the car is hunky-dory. But some software widgets that are a big selling point these days—rumoured to include smartphone connectivity and augmented-reality parking assistance—may be missing at first, only to be added later. Originally set for this summer, the launch has been pushed back until at least September.

VW is not the only big company struggling to make its computers work. Last year British banks were hauled over the coals by regulators for online outages and botched IT upgrades that left millions of customers unable to make or receive payments. Some problems are much more serious. Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft were grounded in 2019 after two fatal crashes caused partly by a software flaw. Investigators have since found lesser bugs. Airlines are, for instance, now advised to turn the plane off and on again every 51 days, to stop its computers displaying false data in mid-flight. A similar problem found in 2017 in some aeroplanes made by Airbus, Boeing’s European rival, prompted the European Union...



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