Enterprise-sanctioned app stores, for computer and mobile device applications, are expected to become more prevalent. By 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will have their own app stores, research firm Gartner said in a Feb. 12 report. The success of these stores, however, will depend on several less-certain factors.
Private app stores offer enterprises greater security, control over software expenditures and negotiating power with app vendors—but only if employees are enthusiastic users of the stores.
"Bring your own application (BYOA) has become as important as bring your own device (BYOD) in the development of a comprehensive mobile strategy, and the trend toward BYOA has begun to affect desktop and Web applications as well," Ian Finley, Gartner research vice president, said in a statement.
Enterprise app stores offer a partial solution, said Finley, "but only if IT security, application, procurement and sourcing professionals can work together to successfully apply the concept."
When they do, "they can increase the value delivered by the application portfolio and reduce the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses."
The Gartner report identifies three guidelines that can help enterprises benefit from the trend.
One is to look to mobile-device management (MDM) partners to include an app store as part of their offering. Enterprise app stores are expected to grow alongside MDM and BYOD policy adoption, and many MDM providers have simple ways of extending apps to mobile devices, as well as to PCs. Gartner advises that organizations begin by assessing their immediate need for an app store and then looking for providers that can include an app store in a mobile management bundle.
Second, enterprise app stores give end users more control (which they welcome) and the ability to choose the applications that best address their needs.
"By delegating choice to end users," said Gartner, "organizations can delegate many important price and performance decisions down to the end-user level."
(On a similar note, a recent Forrester report pointed out that workers will go looking for—and use—the applications they feel they need most, whether sanctioned or not, so enterprises should both pay attention to realities of the way people work and proactively mobilize key applications.)
Lastly, enterprises can help ensure the success of an app store by keeping it full and vibrant. A store with a dynamic selection offers users ongoing opportunities to discover helpful new apps and also provide feedback to development teams.
The key determinant of a company's app store success is app supply, said Brian Prentice, Gartner research vice president.
"As a result, application leaders should be given overall responsibility for any app store initiative, but they should work in a collaborative fashion with other teams," said Prentice. "The types of apps downloaded and used provide important information as to what types of solutions are of value to each type of user."