The tsunami of mobility is inundating consumers and businesses in the form of mobile applications. This consumer led transformation is convincing both large and small businesses that creating rich native applications that provide simplified, yet high-value functionality is critical for their customers and employees.
While these mobile applications were initially spawned to support social media, entertainment, and personal productivity, the upsurge in handheld tablets has changed the premise. These portable computing devices join the benefits of mobility with a legitimate application platform and thus mobilized versions of enterprise applications are now being developed for and deployed on both tablets and smartphones.
If your enterprise is serious about empowering its employees with mobile applications, it must have a way to identify, distribute, and manage them. Fortunately, your employees and customers are now used to finding, purchasing, installing, and upgrading applications through stores from Apple, Google, et al. But does this make sense for your situation?
Typically there is an upside – IT’s involvement is minimized and your users do get a sense of control, but there are some issues with distribution as you will likely want to offer these apps based on both device and user parameters.
Still, the wave is rolling. A recent survey of US and UK businesses with revenues of more than $100M found that over 85% are planning to implement some sort of enterprise application store this year. Doing this presents some pluses:
- Licensing costs are optimized when users are directed to applications known to work well
- Users’ roles and responsibilities can be used to high-light appropriate applications
- Support is simplified by using allowable device restrictions/guidelines
- Both commercial and custom apps are deliverable
Now, many solutions are available. Therefore, in the course of your ‘due diligence’, there are several key points to consider. At a minimum:
- You need to be able to point users to important commercial apps and then to validate if they have loaded any of them
- Your administrators must be able to control the who, which app, what device, when and the current status
- You need to be able to handle fundamentals like editing, upgrading and deleting profiles as well as keeping users from running unauthorized apps
- You should be able to notify users of new apps or new versions that become available
Of course, an applications store for your enterprise should not be undertaken haphazardly or you risk increasing user dissatisfaction and even negatively impacting productivity. However, with good planning and communication you can ride the wave while bringing high levels of service through competent, customer-focused management.