Have You Got An Enterprise App For That?
February 18, 2013 Jenny Thomas
Having an app already sounds like a cliché. In the Apple App Store, for instance, there are approximately 775,000 apps available, as compared to the mere 800 apps it offered when it opened its doors in July 2008. Best guesstimates put the Google Play store at a close second in the neighborhood of 600,000 apps and growing. It begs the question: How many more apps can we possible need?
It looks like the sky may be the limit as enterprises start to get in on the app mania. The analysts at Gartner believe there is a new app wave on the horizon, predicting that by 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will have an enterprise app store of their very own, dispensing access to their own applications as well as those residing out there on the cloud.
The justification for the necessity of individual enterprise app stores is actually very reasonable. The onslaught of mobile devices carried by employees, and which are loaded with apps, is forcing companies to find a way to gain greater control over the apps used by their work force, including taking back control of employee software expenditures and creating some negotiating leverage when dealing with app vendors.
An enterprise app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices will offer companies a way to protect and regain control of the enterprise, but only if the enterprise apps are widely adopted, warns Gartner.
“Apps downloaded from public app stores for mobile devices disrupt IT security, application and procurement strategies,” said Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner. “Bring your own application has become as important as bring your own device in the development of a comprehensive mobile strategy.”
The trend toward bring your own application, or BYOA, is gaining momentum at a frightening speed, and is affecting desktop and Web applications as well. An enterprise app store offers at least a partial solution for companies, with the end goal being not only to reduce the associated risks of outside apps, including license fees and administration expenses, but also to increase the value delivered by the application portfolio. And, perhaps equally importantly, it a corporate app store puts the IT department back in charge of brokering access to applications that the company has paid for and that employees are using. PC and server virtualization juggernaut VMware has staked a whole product line, called Horizon, on this idea that virtual desktops and apps will need a central broker, and an app store is the easiest metaphor for how to deliver it.
In a new report, Enterprise App Stores Can Increase the ROI of the App Portfolio, Gartner analysts identified three key enterprise app store trends and gave recommendations of how organizations can benefit from these trends.
1. The increasing number of enterprise mobile devices and the adoption of mobile device management (MDM) by enterprises will drive demand and adoption of enterprise app stores.
Enterprises already have numerous choices for downloading software onto PCs, but most of them don’t include support for smartphones and tablets. The immediate action item for enterprises is to formalize standard support for these devices to protect their assets. Long term, companies need to develop their own in-house apps to extend more complex data to these devices. (Horizon can deploy apps to PCs, run them in virtual machines back on the servers in the data center, or deploy them to smartphones and tablets.)
Organizations should begin by assessing the realistic need for immediate adoption of enterprise app stores and looking for providers that offer cross-platform support for Web, PC, and mobile apps, as well as for different devices. App stores should be part of an MDM bundle of features and should be purchased along with a full mobile management solution.
2. Enterprise app stores can support a more diverse and competitive automated software process requiring less procurement intervention.
The enterprise app store offers a way to automate the acquisition of enterprise software licenses from app stores under corporate control as part of the normal requisitioning process. By delegating choice to end users, organizations will also farm out price and performance decisions down to the end-user level, enabling them to make the best choice to meet their needs with the knowledge that the cost will require management approval and/or chargeback to their business unit.
The ability to broaden user choice by enabling providers to submit competing apps, and to monitor demand for popular apps that may benefit from better negotiation of license terms and prices is a major possible benefit of enterprise app stores.
3. The long-term success of an enterprise app store hinges on a dramatic increase in the supply of software solutions.
Few companies are still in the position to control their entire mobile value chain. Enterprise IT organizations should be transitioning from the traditional approach of selecting devices and software for users and instead, should establish transparent and enforced app policies like what are found in public app stores. This shift in control will be challenging for many IT organizations.
Gartner analysts are quick to point out that the key to success for every enterprise app store is offering a dynamic selection of apps to choose from. Otherwise, users will eventually have little reason to continue to visit an enterprise app store. App stores can be a great way to share new applications within the enterprise, recognize great applications, provide feedback to development teams, and even create a bit of competition within the company, all to drive the development of better solutions. By monitoring the types of apps downloaded and used, companies can gain important information as to what types of solutions are of value to each type of user.
Gartner’s report, Enterprise App Stores Can Increase the ROI of the App Portfolio, is available here.