Enterprise App Stores Help Users and IT Get the Most from BYOD
Enterprise app stores are "not your traditional IT-type deployment where you have complete control. ... It's not IT's store, per se, where they say, 'Here are the 10 or 20 or 30 apps that you can get,'" said Maloney. "This is more like a structure to bring your own app, where everyone feels there's more value in it because they start seeing it as part of their core processes." SAP's store ties applications to social networks and allows users to leave comments. When there so many similar applications vying for a user's attention, it's valuable for them to be able to see what's the most popular among their peers and perhaps maybe see which one is working well for a colleague in a similar position in another country, who a user wouldn't otherwise communicate with. Gartner also recommends including a place where individuals can share apps they recommend and have found particularly useful. "I've had conversations with customers [a car manufacturer, for example] who are saying they need a branded store and ... then as we start talking, very quickly they start thinking ahead and saying things like, 'Can I put this kind of store into my car, to allow my customers—the buyers of my cars—to pull down apps?'" said Maloney, explaining how a dynamic app store is about so much more than safe downloads.Analysts agree that for an enterprise app store to be successful, employees need to buy into the idea and visit it often, which they'll only do if it's constantly being updated with both applications and information. "You'd be surprised the types and quantity of apps you can offer," said Gregg Ostrowski, senior director of enterprise developer partnerships at BlackBerry, which also hosts stores for its enterprise customers. "Think of how you use the PC. You have apps for news, intranet stuff for things like vacation requests and expenses, airline stuff. You can make apps available for each of those." Ideally, once the premise for an app exists, developers will compete to improve on it, ultimately benefiting users. Tech IT and consultancy WiPro advises that a mobile enterprise app store needs to, in true BYOD fashion, merge enterprise-like attributes with consumer app store qualities such presales support, where relevant, and pricing discounts. But users should also have the ability to try an app before buying it, have access to social inputs and have the ability to search and easily discover options. SAP's Maloney seconds the need to make private stores as incredibly simple and well-designed as the other app stores that users are accustomed to. "Apple and Google are a real pain in the butt," Maloney offered wryly, suggesting that they make downloading apps so simple and pleasant that if enterprises want employees to use their in-house store, they need to compete with that top level of ease and sophistication. "It's all about simplifying the discovery and evaluation process," Maloney said. "It's all about bringing that simple consumer experience to the enterprise." Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.
"It can enable commerce to happen. It starts as a tactical discussion, and once you start putting the pieces together and seeing where it can go, and how it can affect your customers and beyond, it morphs from applications to the discovery of commerce."