Why the time is ripe for enterprise app stores

Sage advice on designing an app store - just as compelling as Apple App Store or Google Play - for customers and employees.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

"A well-architected app store can replace the antiquated service catalogs of the past. It could provision the best apps available, monitor their usage, manage fees, and help CIOs predict further app requirements." 

iPad photo by Joe McKendrick 5-2013
Photo credit: Joe McKendrick

That's the view of Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies and founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace, writing in E-Commerce Times, who sees enterprise app stores as the appropriate response to the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. Such an environment "could not only provision the best apps available, but also monitor their usage, manage license fees, and help CIOs predict further app requirements." It provides CIOs a way to "gain control" over the tech explosion. 

The enterprise app store is seen as a way to control the explosion in the number of enterprise users going outside the firewall to public app stores such as the Apple App Store and Google Play/Android Market. It is also an environment that will likely serve both internal customers (employees) and external customers. It is not only responding to BYOD, but also the need for greater self-service IT (for business at the speed of thought), as well as the evolution of non-IT companies to roles as cloud providers.

Earlier this year, Gartner issued a prediction that within the next four years, up to 25 percent of enterprises will have their own enterprise app stores for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices. Enterprise app stores not only are a response to BYOD, but also help contain the bring your own application (BYOA) trend to enterprise-approved apps.

The time may even be now to begin building BYOA and enterprise app stores. Jim Casey of Enterprise Apps Tech says Gartner got it wrong, and that it won't take four years for app stores to catch on -- they're already here. 

Of course, enterprise app stores need to better monitor their end-users than commercial app stores. Jay Manciocchi, JD, a digital marketing executive, provides some excellent advice on what managers need to know about deploying enterprise app stores:

Know your audience: Understand how and why both employees and outside customers use technology. All may have different agendas and priorities. Outside customers are looking for different types of apps than internal employees seeking to do their jobs faster and better.

Build a store that can serve the full spectrum of computing devices: Keep your plaform platform-agnostic, Manciocchi advises. It should even be accessible to PCs.

Create a compelling application catalog: "If there is not a large enough choice of first-class applications in your store, this will be an inhibitor to your app store’s success and employee users may revert back to public app stores for certain software," he states.

Determine who can access your store and how subscriptions will work: "Users should be able to invite colleagues to use an application with just the click of a button. The leaders at the app store’s helm should be able to segment users’ roles and restrict access to applications by role or by group, as necessary."

Other advice Manciocchi provides includes enabling single sign-on for the store, and wrapping high-quality content around the store -- such as tutorials, videos, white papers and articles.


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