Though most people feel that the iPhone (and its siblings, the iPod and iTouch) is Apple's greatest creation, the credit for another revolution goes to the company-the establishment of the app store. Consumers loved it, and vendors like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, have begun to offer similar stores that have a self-service model.
With the widespread adoption of mobility within enterprises, many employees now want to have the same convenience and ease of use at the workplace that online app stores offer. To support this demand, a mobile Enterprise App Store (EAS) is the solution.
An EAS is a customized in-house platform or infrastructure that lets users securely download apps and updates on their mobile devices. An EAS typically hosts internally developed apps or packaged apps and sometimes points to external sites. Each user, based on permissions, business rules and location, has a white list of apps that can be downloaded. Permissions can be manual or auto-generated, using Mobile Device Management (MDM) software widely available from services like MobileIron, Airwatch, and Fiberlink.
As with any other IT innovation, you will need to formulate a strategy for your EAS. What are the do's and don'ts of establishing a mobile EAS strategy?
- Decide on the apps catalogue and ensure apps are aligned to the long-term business strategy and the BYOD program
- Have well-defined app distribution protocols, based on roles and geographies
- Provide employees the right apps that enhance productivity, and on the right device
- Ensure apps in the store can be disposed off and updated regularly (controlled app lifecycle management)
- Don't ignore employee recommendations for specific apps. When employees select their preferred apps, it builds ownership.
- Don't ignore security issues related to apps – if apps reach the wrong employees, data may be compromised.
- Don't underestimate user access data; usage can tell you which apps are popular and which are not. Use this to refresh the store.
- Don't create app stores in silos. EAS provisioning should be through shared deployment and management services across the enterprise.
Read more about how to establish an EAS in our paper, 'The enterprise app store: Evolution in IT strategy.'
Not all enterprises are ready for a mobile EAS. However, the risk of not considering an EAS as part of a mobile strategy means that IT will stay in a state of chaos as devices and apps proliferate and employee dissatisfaction rises. Organizations cannot afford this risk and will need to consider an EAS.