The 5 key things companies need to remember when creating an app store

Everyone from the CEO down is expecting IT management to create a more consumer-like experience for employee

The “consumerization of IT” movement is causing concern for IT professionals. Employees are looking for their company to provide them with access to the technology they use at home. Some of the biggest concerns IT professionals have surrounding this trend is with cost and the loss of control over company assets.

The biggest example of where the ‘consumerization of IT’ is playing into the dread and hope of IT professionals and employees is with the app store. Apps not only run our lives, but they now are transforming how we run our businesses. The motto “There’s an app for that” has infiltrated our lives.

Through app stores like iTunes, Google Play and Windows, consumers are able to quickly and seamlessly find, download and implement an app to their device. This is a stark contrast when it comes to enterprise app stores, with employees usually required to follow a slow and complex IT request process just find and get enterprise apps needed to do their jobs.

The 5 Issues to Remember

Everyone from the CEO down is expecting IT management to create a more consumer-like experience for employees. Companies are increasingly rolling out enterprise app stores to employees – to make it easier and more intuitive to find and download business apps sanctioned by the company. However, companies have a lot more to consider if they’re going to move forward with an enterprise app store.

Consider the following 5 topics:

  1. Cost: How do you contain costs? Consumer apps are either free or cost about $1.99, while apps for enterprises can cost hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per user. What do you do if a manager needs to approve expenditure before an app can be downloaded? How does the cost get tracked back to the appropriate office or department?
  2. Intricacy: Consumer apps are designed around the devices that will be downloading them. For example, an iTunes app is designed for the iPhone. However, employees run apps on multiple devices – (desktops, laptops, mobile devices, SaaS environments, etc.). As a result, the enterprise app store needs to be a lot smarter to get the right app to the right device so that it will work.
  3. Environments: Consumer app stores also only need to contend with one or so operating systems – iOS 6, Android 4.2. Most companies run in complex environments – Windows, virtualized environments, private and or public clouds, SaaS. How does the app store know who the user is and what that user needs?
  4. Agreement: When you pay for an app and download it in iTunes – as long as you don’t try and hack into the app and resell it – it’s hard to fall out of compliance. Generally you have rights to use the app perpetually, and you have access to upgrades when they come out. But businesses generally buy licenses in bulk for groups of users – and the terms of how those licenses get deployed and used are complex. How can an iTunes-like app store manage that complexity?
  5. Managing Software Licence Lifecycle: Consumer apps are fungible… you can forget about them or delete them without a meaningful economic downside. But because of the cost and complexity of implementing enterprise apps – they have to be kept track of, used, and re-used. If the employee who downloaded an app leaves the company – what do you do with that license? If the employee doesn’t use the app she downloaded, how do you return it to the license pool so the investment isn’t wasted?

How to Handle the Issues

Given how expensive software is, failure to consider all of the above issues can create an unbearable pain for companies trying to implement enterprise app stores. So how can companies deliver the “bling” without the “sting?”

Companies need to think about application usage management as an overall strategy to maximize the value of their software assets across the entire license lifecycle. This includes implementing an enterprise app store environment that is tightly integrated with organizations’ essential software license optimization and application readiness systems. These systems are implemented to ensure companies obtain the most value and efficiency from their software licenses – by ensuring continual software license compliance, optimization and by providing automated application migration, compatibility testing, packaging and deployment capabilities.

Smart companies have already implemented these systems to manage the software license lifecycle. So finding an enterprise app store that is tightly integrated into those systems makes sense. According to Gartner:

“Software asset managers lower administration overhead and drive accountability and efficiency through automation… Enterprise app stores can also lower application adoption barriers by reducing the friction involved in finding, sourcing, installing and updating an application… Where a new app store is required, integrate it with internal software asset management and IT procurement systems.”

Creating an enterprise app store that is tightly integrated on the back end with these systems is a sound investment. As it will provide employees with the familiar, intuitive, iTunes-like experience their use to, but they’ll be able to access the enterprise apps they need to do their jobs.

Vincent Smyth is general manager of EMEA sales at Flexera

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