Symantec surveyed nearly 6,275 organizations for its May 2012 State of Mobility report, including small businesses and large enterprises across 43 countries. With a solid 71 percent considering the benefits of a corporate app store, this strategy is quickly leaving the realm of the early adopters and going mainstream.
Dan Croft, CEO of Mission Critical Wireless, a U.S.-based provider of mobile services, support, and training, told Ars Technica that he thinks every company with at least 100 employees will have its own corporate app store within the next three years. He compares this movement to the emergence of intranets in the 1990s. And just in case you’re not yet convinced, Gartner put the corporate app store on its list of the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2012.
SAP ahead of the game
Deloitte, GE, and IBM all have their own app stores, and SAP is among the early adopters, too. The SAP Store has been up and running for over 18 months. It houses all mobile apps developed by SAP and its partners. Customers can search for apps according to business area, industry, device, and OS, and purchase them directly in SAP Store.
In May, the software company introduced a native SAP Store app for Android-based devices, and update to the iOS app, and an HTML5 version, making it possible for even more users to download apps from the store directly onto their devices. SAP has also announced its intention to build corporate app stores for its customers to build and deploy apps internally.
The rise of the corporate app store is a logical extension of the BYOD policies that have become more and more common in the workplace. Employees want to work with the most powerful, consumer-grade devices, and they want to use their operating system of choice. But this presents a number of challenges for IT. How do you push out apps that are OS- and device-specific to the right users in a timely fashion? And what about updates? How do you ensure that only authorized employees have access to certain apps?
A private app store lets IT manage all this from one central location. They can even take advantage of built-in analytics tools to see track use. And they can remotely delete apps from devices if necessary – when an employee leaves the company for example, or if a user fails to install an update.
App stores speed up deployment
The corporate app store also has its advantages from an employee perspective. According to a survey by IT solution provider 1E, two thirds of employees in the U.S. wait up to a week or more to get the software they request through the IT help desk. And 73 percent have to chase the help desk to get the apps they need. With an app store, users can simply download the latest version of an app directly to their device.