A Two-Step Guide to Enterprise App Store Strategy Development

A Two-Step Guide to Enterprise App Store Strategy Development

Posted on October 08, 2014 0 Comments

An illustration of possible paths

Which enterprise app store path will you take?

Integrating mobile apps into your corporate culture used to appear progressive; now it's a critical piece of your enterprise foundation and operations. This means that choosing the right app store strategy for your business should add value to your existing IT objectives, while providing a framework to support future growth.

As your organization relies more heavily on the support mobile apps can provide, you need to establish frameworks and strategies to manage and deliver this content. Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory firm, says there are two important tasks to complete before deciding on an effective enterprise app store strategy.

Step One: Catalog Mobile App Mix

Building a meaningful catalog of your mobile app mix requires that you identify the apps currently in use by your organization. As a part of this exercise, be sure to outline the features and functionality provided by each, as well as the business units and users whose workflows and objectives can be supported by their use.

Completing this step also requires that you look for redundancies, not only between mobile apps, but also between existing software systems used by your organization.

Step Two: Analyze App Management Needs

When you have identified the mobile apps currently being used by your constituents, it is critical that you evaluate whether they are adequately meeting the needs of your organization. Do they adhere to your corporate and security policies? Do they make good use of your existing software investments? Choosing the right path will depend greatly on the answers to these types of questions.

Your approach to app management is dictated by two main factors: the capabilities of your mobile team and your organization's need to customize or create the mobile apps that will best support your business objectives.

To this end, Gartner suggests that three possible paths:

  1. No App Development. Do your existing IT systems have stock companion apps available that provide access to core features and functionality? If the answer to this question is "yes," you may succeed with adopting existing mobile apps that require no additional customization or development. This may be the case if your needs are simple.
  1. Intermediate App Development. This hybrid approach offers your enterprise the ability to customize the mobile apps used by your organization while avoiding the sizable investment required to develop them from scratch. Intermediate app development is usually achieved by taking advantage of development tools provided by your existing software vendors, then allowing your mobile team to perform what Gartner describes as "app wrapping." This process allows you to extend your existing software with subtle customizations.
  1. Advanced App Development. Some enterprises are best served by custom mobile apps that are carefully planned, fully controlled, and extensively tested. Advanced app development offers many advantages, but requires a significant initial investment and considerable expertise.

Choose the Best App Store Approach

In the absence of a meaningful enterprise app store strategy, it is likely that groups of users have started to adopt and use mobile apps in a very organic manner. While this may seem innocent, it could represent a considerable liability as it relates to the security of your data and adherence to established business practices.

Choosing a method of app deployment has a significant impact on the users who will need to actively interact with your enterprise systems. Allowing users to access your systems with their own devices (as opposed to those that are company owned and provided) may seem economical -- but it may mean forfeiting control over the platforms being used while also making it more difficult to enforce company-wide mobile IT policies.

It may seem that deciding to use only public apps makes good economic sense: they can be implemented quickly and require little ongoing support that isn't provided by a third-party. This pro is also the biggest con -- the app you choose today may be gone tomorrow. Without any stake in the ownership of the apps you choose, their fate isn't something you can control.

So how do you choose? Gartner suggests that the scale of deployment may be one of your key considerations. Public app stores or Web portals that you build and maintain in-house make app distribution easy when there are a small number of apps being deployed to a finite number of devices. If your organization serves a large number of users, an investment into a commercial enterprise mobility management (EMM) suite or stand-alone mobile application management (MAM) may be necessary to provide mobile device management functions.

While it may seem glib to mention these higher-end solutions so casually, discussing these options isn't trivial -- if you decide that this is the direction required by your enterprise, a careful evaluation of the products and services available would be required.

Speaking for Forbes, columnist Greg Satell suggests that your corporate mission should drive your strategy. Ensure that your mobile strategies build on your established strengths and existing successes, whether your business uses a modular approach, or dominates a niche market and boasts being an integrated organization (meaning delivery of your product or services requires that you control the entire consumer experience).

Wisely, Satell's advice is that the correct choice will hinge on the personality and ambition of your organization, cautioning that "strategies can come and go, but the mission of the enterprise is fundamental to directing action."

Michelle Tackabery

An experienced content and social media marketing professional, Michelle writes frequently about the practical applications of information technology.


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