Enterprise App Stores Go Their Own Way

Carl Weinschenk

The app way of getting things done, for the PC as well as mobile device user, clearly is the future. The breadth of apps available is mind-boggling and growing more so by the day.

Consumer apps are, of course, front and center. The enterprise app marketplace sector is a bit more complex. We have general enterprise marketplaces and company-specific app stores. We also have sections of consumer marketplaces that offer enterprise apps.

The apps themselves also a present a categorization challenge: What truly comprises an enterprise app? Is it simply an app used by a business, or do certain features, such as added security or the ability to link into backend databases, differentiate enterprise and consumer apps?

These are the sorts of questions that gradually get sorted out by the marketplace. This week, Samsung pushed the envelope with the introduction of the Samsung Solutions Exchange. The idea, according to CNET, is for Samsung to reach out to and work with enterprises to help them create the needed apps. The story notes that Samsung has made more than 1,000 application programming interfaces (APIs) and its device software development kit (SDK) available. At this point, the company is helping enterprises use these tools:

At launch, Samsung is not creating new apps but is helping software makers tweak their apps to take advantage of unique Samsung device features such as its S Pen, gestures, and screen mirroring.

The differences between consumer and enterprise app stores are great, or should be, according to Jeff Fisher, the vice president and co-head of RES Software. In a commentary at Technology Digital, he suggests that the needs of both users and their employers demand far more of an enterprise marketplace than a front end bolted onto a consumer store:

IT administrators need to employ an enterprise IT solution that can be tailored specifically to their organisations’ unique needs and enable them to automate a large portion of the predictable IT tasks that make up approximately 80% of IT services needed by users.  Implementing a full-service enterprise IT store, unlike app-store only models, will ensure that users are granted access to all of the basic IT services, not just apps, they need to be productive, without the intervention of IT, instead of requiring them to request even the most fundamental services.

That’s not an easy lift. At diginomica, Den Howlett offers a long and detailed analysis of the creation of enterprise apps, which of course are the main ingredient in an enterprise app store. At a high level, it is clear that enterprise and consumer application marketplaces are significantly different animals. A big difference Howlett points to is the fact that enterprises tend to think that their applications are so unique that they require customization. He argues that this isn’t necessarily the case and that a set base technology in many cases can suffice.

Apps are the way of the present and the future. It takes a surprising amount of work for enterprises to keep pace.

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