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Enterprise Application Store: There's one in your future

An enterprise app store can help IT control and secure mobile applications

By Robin Layland, Network World
March 15, 2012 12:10 PM ET

Network World - Creating the mobile enterprise is one of the biggest challenges facing IT organizations. The benefits of supporting mobile users and building mobile applications are numerous and include increased productivity and organization flexibility.

Applications that run on smartphones and tablets are a key component of a mobile enterprise. One of the key parts in managing and securing apps is an Enterprise App Store (EAS). An EAS is basically the same as a public app store such as Apple's App Store or Google's Marketplace. It is a place where employees can go and get the latest and greatest apps they need. It also provides a way for IT to gain control over apps.

Mobile apps can be grouped into two categories. The first is generic apps created for the consumer market or generic enterprise apps created by vendors such as SAP, Salesforce, Oracle and Google for enterprises. These apps are not custom built or customized for the enterprise. They range from apps from airlines that help the traveling employee to apps that access SaaS applications.

The second category is custom apps developed for a particular enterprise. Enterprises create custom apps to support their particular business needs and to create a competitive advantage. Custom apps can be broken down into two groups. First are apps developed by vendors for a wide range of enterprises that are then customized for a particular enterprise. A company is interested in an app from Oracle but needs to modify it to fit the business's particular needs.

Then there are custom apps just for the enterprise. One example is adapting an existing business application to a mobile device. The smaller screen size means a desktop application needs to be broken up into smaller chunks and focus on displaying just the key information. The application may be broken into multiple apps with each app design for a different group within the business. The goal is to make complex and PC oriented applications work on mobile devices.

On the more complex end of the spectrum, entirely new apps are being created for the mobile environment. A good example is an app Daimler Trucks North America developed for their sales force. Daimler's truck are all custom built for an individual buyer. They built an app that allows the sales person to use a tablet to build the entire truck with the customer as they walk around the showroom or at the customer's site. Instead of looking at a truck and then going back to a desktop computer in a room and building a truck, the sales person can more easily interact with the customer. Businesses will increasingly find good reasons for developing their owns apps for their employees, business partners and customers.

The mobile app developer's dilemma: How to get paid without annoying users

Enterprises will develop a slew of apps, both generic and custom, that their employees depend on. This creates a problem. Enterprises need to figure out how they will distribute, secure and control the apps their employees use. This is not an issue that can be put on the back burner, it needs to be done before the apps get out of control. The key to solving this problem is an EAS.

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