Make the app store a cornerstone of your enterprise mobility strategy

by Chris Schroeder

February 26 2013

Chris Schroeder is CEO of App47, a provider of cloud-based mobile application management services.


When it comes to enterprise apps, Chris Schroeder says companies need to stop thinking like a parent looking to keep the kids busy on a road trip.

The common perception with respect to app stores is that there are just a few options. If you want a place to sell your app or if you’re looking for a place to buy an app, the mythology mandates that you go with an option provided by Apple or Google. But it's time for the truth to break through.

App stores exist in surprising variety -- customizable platforms that are easy to deploy and manage, allowing organizations and even individuals to create and curate their own app store.

That’s right. You don’t have to go with a big-name app store option. You can build, manage, and maintain your very own. It’s surprisingly easy, and an ideal for any company that needs to distribute apps to its employees without sending them to sit through thousands of unrelated apps or more importantly exposing them to security issues due to errant downloads.

The benefit boils down to what’s best for the enterprise vs. what’s been working for the consumer. Think of it from the perspective of an entertainment-driven user: If you need to download Angry Birds, iTunes is great (and Angry Birds, recognizing it’s exploding popularity early, got it’s Android iteration in place pretty quickly as well). But let’s think like an enterprise decision maker, rather than a parent looking to keep the kids busy on a road trip.

Seeding the needs of enterprise

App distribution for the enterprise is a different animal. It needs to cooperate with diverse platforms. It needs to effortlessly push out the latest version and ensure adoption. It often needs to operate within the parameters of a particular licensing limit. This is where the advantages of your own, enterprise-owned app store become obvious.

In our experience, the app store is often our first point of prospect contact. Industry leaders from pharmaceutical and beverage distribution to professional sports and major media who, determined to properly energize and equip their mobile workforces, realize an internally manage app store would be an ideal solution.

It would be, in effect, a portal packed with approved, updated, secure suite of apps, effectively eliminating concerns of which apps the mobile workforce could use, and whether or not people were using the latest versions. That "app approval" factor is especially significant in the face of today’s top-of-mind security concerns.

These benefits resonate almost immediately with an organization’s workforce. In many cases, it’s the difference between getting on board with mobility or outright rejection and a return to the desktop. We’ve found, however, that the first step in making a workforce mobile is to make them comfortable with getting the enterprise mobile apps they need -- to make that process as painless as possible. That’s an invaluable app store advantage.

Open your business to a MAM mindset

But there are also major behind-the-scenes benefits for any organization. As mentioned above, the app store becomes the point of entry to a mobile application management (MAM) mindset. In our experience businesses quickly recognize that they are able to capture and analyze ultra-granular data about user behavior, capture detailed crash reports, more rapidly push out updates, and generally optimize enterprise mobile app effectiveness.

This applies whether the apps they manage are exclusively for their workforce, or if they also push out apps for their own consumer/client audiences.

We have, for example, a major media client that develops and distributes very consumer-centric, content-driven mobile apps. They are constantly scrutinizing performance to keep these users engaged, which in turn improves in-app advertising monetization. In a business-to-business circumstance, it’s our experience that beverage distribution or pharmaceutical sales are keeping sales staff -- traditionally already a mobile-ready group -- at peak performance, streamlining customer interaction and speeding their own ability to meet customer need.  

Thanks to the app store, organizations are even able to sub-assign app access to various teams or even individuals with specific responsibilities; they only have access to the apps they need, particular to the devices they use.

To boil down the benefits of building your own app store, you create your organization’s one-stop app shop. If you give your people welcome convenience and security; you gain greater user behavior visibility and control. We’ll be the first to tell you that this inevitably results in a much greater return on your mobility investment. 

Chris Schroeder is CEO of App47, a provider of cloud-based mobile application management services.

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