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The New Company Store



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August 19, 2013 3:59 pm

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enterprise_iphone_appsJust as Apple and Google offer virtual stores for consumers to find applications, some corporations are starting to offer enterprise app stores for their employees.  The creation of an in-house app store allows an organization to maintain a grasp on control and security, while still offering a variety of helpful applications for on-the-go employees.  It’s a valuable approach, with IT organizations reducing time on application requests even as the overall customer experience improves.  No wonder it’s on the rise according to Gartner; but like anything, there are factors to examine before you consider adopting your own in-house app store.

Joe McKendrick recently wrote an article on ZDNet, in which he favors enterprise app stores and offers advice to those deploying such a policy.  While we agree that such app stores can provide a way for CIOs to take back control, enterprise app stores may not be the next step in the BYOD trend for all companies.

Some benefits of internal enterprise app stores include:

  • Reduced security risks by limiting public data.
  • Reduced administrative expenses due to cutting out the middleman.
  • More control over price and performance decisions-often with better data on consumption and workforce demand.

Small and medium size businesses may not consider this option given the investment required, but they still may consider adopting some aspect of the model (such as finding a way to self-serve traditional applications and better reconciliation processes).  Larger organizations will have the resources to roll-out more ambitious in-house app stores with varying degrees of self-serve, automated approval and department cross-billing, and real-time cost analysis. Large or small, there are some best practices to consider:

  • First, evaluate the company culture and needs for mobile applications.
  • Develop mutual understanding and communication between IT, management and employees.  Employees are more likely to get on board if they know the rationale and how it benefits their job and company.
  • If you identify problem apps-those posing increased security or audit risks-work to compromise with those asking for them.  Completely shutting them down could backfire.
  • Revisit the approach on a regular basis. Is it working for all parties while benefitting the business?
  • Application software is expected to function across multiple device operating systems, and policy must be created to meet licensing, security and technical capabilities.

Over the next few years, IT is in the midst of a fundamental shift where employees are asking that workplace applications be as easy to use as the consumer-focused ones they use in their personal lives. IT is tasked with ensuring that employees stay productive, and that corporate data remains secure. An enterprise app store, or some aspects of it, may provide that productive and secure balance, but organizations need to carefully consider their organizational needs before launching a corporate app store.

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