2014: The year of the enterprise app store

While not every company has technologically embraced the massive influx of multiplatform, multi-network mobile devices taxing its network, the inevitable power they give employees to access enterprise resources in any location and manage their own technology systems -- a phenomenon known to some as "the consumerization of IT" -- will undoubtedly dramatically and permanently change the face of the enterprise as we know it today. And while it is widely recognized that the continued consumerization of IT presents countless challenges for IT departments, I see 2014 as the year IT views these changes as opportunities and empowers its employees with the tools they need to maximize the incalculable power of their devices.

One of the major tools to which I refer? The enterprise app store.

Enterprise app stores are becoming increasingly popular, with Gartner predicting that by 2017, 25 percent of corporate IT departments will deploy private enterprise marketplaces. Thanks to the BYOD influx and the corresponding rise in mobile device management, businesses see the appeal of a one-stop-shopping destination where people can download the correct versions of enterprise-approved apps. It's the logical evolution of enterprises embracing the cloud. So what will these enterprise app stores look like?

Enterprise App Stores: The Candy Crush Model

As companies increasingly implement enterprise app stores to support employees on mobile devices, they must determine their policies for developing, securing and provisioning this content. As you might expect, many companies implement a top-down approach for delivering apps they believe employees will find useful. However, this approach carries the risk of offering content that lacks the stickiness to drive maximum usage.

As more employees become adept at application development, I believe a sandbox approach to offering apps will prove to be the way forward in 2014 and beyond. When companies offer an enterprise store to which anyone can post apps that meet a certain criteria, the most relevant and useful will become adopted, thereby creating a Candy Crush model that fosters maximum usage.

With that in mind, I believe that 2014 will see companies loosen the reins on their app policies, delivering tools that employees want to and therefore, will use.

Keys to an Effective App Store

What do IT leaders need to keep in mind before launching an app store this year? Here are several ideas:

    1. Assign adequate resources to make sure any enterprise app store is up-to-date, otherwise adoption rates will suffer.
    2. Develop apps for every platform. Think about what platforms are used most and whether to respond with multi-platform versions of company applications.
    3. Develop a user-friendly storefront. Enterprise app stores need to be as accessible and easy to use as a consumer app store, or employees will not engage with it.
    4. Security and compliance management. IT needs to be prepared to manage potential security. For example, user authentication must be strong, ensuring that only employees can access enterprise applications and the subsequent data that is accessed from and delivered back to the company's network. The same goes for compliance.

Image Credit: Max Griboedov/Shutterstock

Mark Settle joined BMC Software in June 2008. He has served as the CIO of four Fortune 300 companies: Corporate Express, Arrow Electronics, Visa International, and Occidental Petroleum. Settle has worked in a variety of industries including consumer products, high tech distribution, financial services, and oil and gas. During the early stages of his career, he was the director of a systems integration business unit within Hughes Aircraft Company. Settle's formal training is in the Geological Sciences. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from MIT and a PhD from Brown University. Settle is a former Air Force officer and NASA Program Scientist.

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