Alex Kantrowitz on Apple’s Dysfunctional Information Systems and Technology Group

An excerpt from Alex Kantrowitz’s Always Day One, published at BuzzFeed News:

A group inside Apple called Information Systems & Technology, or IS&T, builds much of the company’s internal technology tools — from servers and data infrastructure to retail and corporate sales software — and operates in a state of tumult.

IS&T is made up largely of contractors hired by rival consulting companies, and its dysfunction has led to a rolling state of war. “It’s a huge contractor org that handles a crazy amount of infrastructure for the company,” one ex-employee who worked closely with IS&T told me. “That whole organization is a Game of Thrones nightmare.” […]

When IS&T’s projects are finally completed, they can cause even more headaches for Apple employees, who are left with a mess to clean up. Multiple people told me their Apple colleagues were forced to rewrite code after IS&T-built products showed up broken.

Michael Tsai:

From what I’ve heard, this is a longtime problem, and it’s a mystery to me why this group has been immune to the Cook Doctrine. Apple buys forests to manage the paper used in its packaging and designs the desks its employees use and even the pizza boxes for its cafeteria. But when it comes to building the software that runs the company, that’s not considered a core competency.

I have to raise an eyebrow at Kantrowitz’s closing:

For Apple, fixing its broken IS&T division would not only be the right thing to do from a moral standpoint — it would help the company’s business as well. If Apple is going to become inventive again, it will need to give its employees more time to develop new ideas.

If Apple is no longer inventive, what is Apple Watch? What are AirPods? If it wasn’t inventiveness, what was it when Apple completely redesigned the fundamental interaction design of the iPhone with the iPhone X? When was Apple “inventive”? Once in 1984, and once more in 2007?

Tuesday, 7 April 2020