Airbus, crashing values and misaligned IT


Blogs should have some continuity, which mine seems to lack. My visit to the ScotlandIS 2007 Global Forum earlier this month was inspiring – and hopefully Computerworld UK will reflect many of the great ideas that came out of the event.

What caught my eye today though was the news that the first Airbus A380 superjumbo had been delivered from its factory an embarrassing 18 months late and after wreaking havoc with the Airbus consortium members' share price.

The cause of this delay? Software. Nothing to do with the flight control systems, rather it was manufacturing software that was to blame.

Last year the production lines ground to a halt because of problems which the Financial Times said “were traced back to the use of different software systems at the group’s operations in Germany and France.”

The FT went on to say the resultant failure “was the most stark illustration of Airbus’s failure to integrate fully its systems and operations across Europe, since becoming a single corporate entity in 2001.

It is a timely reminder of what can go wrong in both complex manufacturing processes, in outsourcing and in mergers and acquisitions.

It should also ring alarm bells for IT end users in the face of the merger boom among software suppliers.

The price of bungled integration at Oracle or SAP could have a disastrous impact, not just on those organisations but on everyone that uses their products...

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