When I interviewed Sam Liu, VP of marketing for Partnerpedia and asked him for his predictions regarding the future of the enterprise app store, he mentioned the possibility of the app store model being used to help companies deliver an effective intranet experience to employees via their mobile devices. While I was aware that a growing number of companies are experimenting with mobile features on their intranets and I know enterprise app stores are emerging as a new way for employees to access the apps needed to do their jobs, I didn't really see a strong connection between the two.
It became clearer, however, when I read a blog post by Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler on mobilizing content and collaboration applications. Among facts pulled from recent Forrester Research and cited by Schadler:
Schadler goes on to suggest companies will need to extend their existing applications with mobile support, mentioning several ways of doing so such as Newsgator for Sharepoint abd IBM Notes Traveler for Notes and Connections. While such tools are useful, they do little to addressthe challenge of making collaborative activities more central to workflow, a problem I wrote about last week, sharing the experiences of a social business practitioner who fears enterprise collaboration could become "the bad sequel to Knowledge Management" if employers fail at making collaboration applications more essential to employees' daily tasks.
Interestingly, two of the practitioner's five recommendations for boosting employee adoption of enterprise collaboration are making collaboration apps readily available on multiple mobile devices and making the intranet a hub for collaboration. To make the connection between collaboration, moble and intranet even clearer, Two Hives Ltd. founder Steve Bynghall asks some interesting questions about the possible convergence of enterprise app stores and intranets. In a blog post on the Intranet Benchmarking Forum site, he concludes enterprise app stores will almost certainly change how users' view their intranets and could create opportunities for intranet managers to make intranets a true hub of workplace activity and to improve both intranet and app store user experiences.
For instance, Bynghall points out, these managers are "great at thinking holistically and making connections between different parts of the organization," a skill that is needed to provide a more integrated experience for enterprise app store users. They could suggest connections and possibly even workflow between different mobile apps and offer advice on improving app store search.
Of course companies will have to make some fundamental decisions about how the app store and the intranet work together. Will employees access the app store via the intranet, or access the intranet via the app store?