By 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will maintain their own internal app store as a result of the increase in mobile device usage and subsequent demand for mobile device management solutions, Gartner predicts.
By providing an enterprise app store, companies can encourage the use of corporate-sanctioned apps, as well as take a more hands-on approach to managing software expenditures and relationships with applications vendors. "Enterprise app stores enable procurement to broaden user choice by encouraging providers to submit competing apps, and to monitor demand for popular apps that may benefit from better negotiation of license terms and prices," said Stewart Buchanan, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement.
But the benefits of an enterprise app store don't necessarily outweigh the associated challenges.
When it comes to the enterprise, the "complexity level is just so high," remarks Ty Amell, cofounder and CEO of StackMob, a cloud-based mobile platform that allows developers to build, grow, and deploy network-connected mobile apps. "When you're in enterprise, especially with bring your own device, security is one of the utmost concerns for very obvious reasons."
In the enterprise environment, IT needs to be able to control what applications are available to employees and what access permissions are allotted for a specific department or role within the organization, Amell says. In addition to setting access restrictions, "there's the concern of how you're inspecting and curating the app store and how you're managing those applications going forward."
When enterprises consider their mobile application development strategy, it's imperative to consider providers that offer cross-platform support for Web and PC apps in addition to mobile apps, Gartner advises. It's also important to factor in what kinds of devices employees are using. "We're at this perfect storm of so many applications and devices (where) you might have a phone, a Kindle, and an iPad," Amell adds. The question then becomes, as he puts it, "How are you looking at identity management (to address) whose device is what?"
In the coming years, enterprises are expected to more formally standardize their approach to mobile device management. For an enterprise app store to maintain its success, value must be added by introducing new applications and by analyzing what apps hold the most value across various departments in an organization.