Enterprise App Stores Open for Business

Carl Weinschenk

Enterprise app stores seem to be a proverbial win/win situation. Businesses win because they don't have to hang out with the unincorporated, if not unwashed, consumer masses. It's a win for the ecosystem of app store providers who suddenly have a much larger and more granular market to target.

There has been a mini-flurry of news and analysis in this realm, perhaps because it makes so much intuitive sense to have a separate place for Angry Birds and a mobile supply chain optimization app. At the Verizon Developer Community conference in Las Vegas last week, the carrier said it will launch the Private Store for Business later this year. It is, according to Connected Planet, a place where companies can set up shop to provide apps, regardless of device operating or system, to employees and partners.

Strategy Analytics covered the topic in recent research. The press release on the report outlined its rationale, and concluded with a quote that does a good job of highlighting the considerable upside and the pivotal role that the stores can play:

"Various programs, such as the volume purchasing program (VPP) from Apple-which Strategy Analytics covered in an Insight earlier this year-are starting to provide companies with the ability to purchase apps in bulk, but these solutions are incomplete and still require a dedicated Enterprise App Store to more completely integrate management and distribution of applications into the company directory and workgroup structure," added Gina Luk, senior analyst for Wireless Enterprise Strategies at Strategy Analytics.

Dick Weisinger, the Chief Technologist at enterprise content management vendor Formtek, blogs at the company site about enterprise app stores aimed at enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. He doesn't say why he limits the discussion to that area. Perhaps he is using ERP as an example or feels that it is a particularly beneficial area for such a platform. In any case, he lays out some of the same reasons.

Weisinger finishes with three pieces of advice from Forrester analyst China Martens, who in a recent report essentially tells users not to have a false sense of security because the app is in an enterprise store. In other words, just because it doesn't share virtual shelf-space with apps aimed at five-year-olds doesn't mean it's useful. He said corporations should research the benefits of available apps, check out the vendor, and compare what it claims to do with what currently is being utilized to gauge its value to the busines.

Finally, Joanie Wexler at Network World does a nice job of painting the broader picture of how businesses distribute apps to their workforces. This includes, but isn't limited to, enterprise app stores. For instance, she describes how it can be done with Apple's help:

Apple is the first mobile device maker to offer a volume-purchasing program (VPP) to enterprises that want to buy commercial mobile apps in bulk, then allow their employees to download them from the App Store. End users do so with redemption codes, a process that can be managed using email, a special enterprise website or via central controls contained in MDM solutions.

The bottom line is that separating consumer and business mobile apps makes sense. Many people see doing it via an application store as the most prudent approach-and one that is likely to grow quickly.

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