By 2017, 25% of organisations will have an enterprise app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices, according to Gartner. 
Enterprise app stores promise greater control over the apps used by employees, greater control over software expenditures and greater negotiating leverage with app vendors, but this greater control is only possible if the enterprise app store is widely adopted.
“Apps downloaded from public app stores for mobile devices disrupt IT security, application and procurement strategies,” says Ian Finley, research VP at Gartner.
“Bring your own application (BYOA) has become as important as bring your own device (BYOD) in the development of a comprehensive mobile strategy, and the trend toward BYOA has begun to affect desktop and Web applications as well.
“Enterprise app stores promise at least a partial solution but only if IT security, application, procurement and sourcing professionals can work together to successfully apply the app store concept to their organisations. When successful, they can increase the value delivered by the application portfolio and reduce the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses.”
Gartner has identified three key enterprise app store trends and recommendations of how organisations can benefit from them:
* The increasing number of enterprise mobile devices and the adoption of mobile device management (MDM) by organisations will drive demand and adoption of enterprise app stores.
Businesses already have numerous choices for downloading software onto PCs, but most of them don’t include support for smartphones and tablets. Organisations are beginning to formalise more standard support for these devices, and are looking for ways to manage mobile application provision, especially as they develop their own in-house apps to extend more complex data to these devices.
“Many businesses have looked to MDM vendors to provide these capabilities as part of the suite of services that MDM providers are selling,” says Phillip Redman, research VP at Gartner.
“Today, most MDM providers have a simple way of extending apps to mobile devices, usually through a basic agent on the device, but many are launching more-sophisticated app stores that can host enterprise and third-party apps to be accessed by smartphones, tablets and PCs. The development of mobile apps and the support of MDM will drive most enterprise app store implementations during the next 12 to 18 months.”
Organisations begin by assessing the realistic need for immediate adoption of enterprise app stores and looking for providers that offer cross-platform support for Web, PC and mobile apps, as well as for different devices. App stores should be part of an MDM bundle of features and should be purchased along with a full mobile management solution.
* Enterprise app stores can support a more diverse and competitive automated software process requiring less procurement intervention. The enterprise app store offers a way to automate the procurement of enterprise software licenses from app stores under corporate control as part of the normal requisitioning process.
By delegating choice to end-users, organisations can delegate many important price and performance decisions down to the end-user level, enabling them to make the best choice to meet their needs with the knowledge that the cost will require management approval and/or chargeback to their business unit.
“Enterprise app stores enable procurement to broaden user choice by encouraging providers to submit competing apps, and to monitor demand for popular apps that may benefit from better negotiation of license terms and prices,” says Stewart Buchanan, research VP at Gartner.
* The long-term success of an enterprise app store hinges on a dramatic increase in the supply of software solutions.
Few companies are still in the position to control their entire mobile value chain. Enterprise IT organisations should be transitioning from the traditional approach of selecting devices and software for users and instead, establishing transparent and enforced app curation policies – as is currently found in public app stores.
This shift in control will be challenging for many IT organisations. But even more profound will be the enablement of choice. Without a dynamic selection of apps to choose from, users will eventually have little reason to continue to visit an enterprise app store.
An app store can be a natural way to share new applications within the organisation, recognise great applications, provide feedback to development teams and even create a bit of competition between them — all to drive the development of better solutions. A dramatic increase in the app options available to internal stakeholders is a precondition of any successful enterprise app store.
“The implementation of an enterprise app store should be seen as a component of an organisation’s application strategy, rather than infrastructure strategy,” says Brian Prentice, research VP at Gartner.
“The primary determinant of success is app supply. As a result, application leaders should be given overall responsibility for any app store initiative, but they should work in a collaborative fashion with other teams. The types of apps downloaded and used provide important information as to what types of solutions are of value to each type of user.”