Mobile App Stores for Enterprises Come of Age

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

10 Cutting-edge Mobile Application Trends for 2012

Mobile applications will increasingly define the user experience on high-end devices.

Enterprise planners and IT managers have spent the better part of the past year coming to grips with mobility. Two of the vexing questions are whether to let employees bring their own devices to work and, if so, how to manage them.

One of the key challenges is distributing applications in a safe, secure and efficient manner. There is a big challenge and a big opportunity. Increasingly, businesses are finding consumer mobile app stores inadequate for distribution of enterprise applications. These storefronts offer little in the way of security, vetting and control. Distribution-especially to large work forces-is cumbersome.

These shortcomings have given rise to enterprise mobile applications stores. The latest high-profile entrant in this space is The SAP Store for Mobile Apps, which launched last week. This area will continue morphing as vendors, service providers and the businesses themselves explore various approaches. At the end of the day, of course, no single formula will emerge. Rather, different types of enterprise-focused app stores-some of them as simple as areas set aside at the consumer-oriented app stores-will establish themselves.

The bottom line is that more business people are using mobile apps, and the method of distribution must change to keep pace. "If you look at app stores today, they are very, very consumer-focused," said Robert Schukai, the global head of mobile technology for Thomson Reuters. "All of a sudden, enterprises are starting to rapidly adopt these products. Just now we are getting to a point to determining how [IT] keeps a bit of control on this."

Multiple Options

There are several types of emerging mobile enterprise app stores. Eric Lei, who describes himself as a house blogger on mobility for Sybase, said that there are two basic groups: those facing inward to CIOs and other high level executives and those facing outward to employees.

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