Soon every enterprise will need its own App Store

Employee pressure and accelerated digital change mean most enterprises will need to offer up their own user-friendly App Stores for their people.

Apple, iOS, mcOS, Gartner, enterprise, App Store, iPhone
YunHo Lee

Digital transformation isn’t just a single wave, it’s a series of them, each one transformational – it’s an environment in which change is a permanent feature.

No one size fits anyone any more

We know every Fortune 500 firm now uses Apple equipment in their business. We also know that many enterprises now offer their own proprietary apps and business processes. And we also know that emerging technologies such as RPA will continue to transform business practices.

Given the choice, most employees will choose Apple kit, and we know that those employees who do may be more productive, cost less in tech support andare  less likely to quit.

We also know that not every task requires the same toolkit, and that the very notion of apps favors development of software to address one single task well rather than multiple tasks poorly.

Modular everything

Think about your business.

It’s likely you have different business units engaged in different tasks, each with different resources and varying practical needs. Maps, spreadsheets, presentations, data analysis, field service manuals, passenger manifests, cargo manifests, location detection systems, data analysis, pre-emptive maintenance, warehouse navigation — look around and you’ll find most business needs now enjoy access to an "app for that."

That's particularly true on iOS.

The problem is that while Apple’s App Store is by far the most secure shopfront for apps, it’s still not perfectly safe. This has led many companies to whitelist specific apps while banning the use of others in managed environments.

This leads inexorably toward scenarios in which enterprises will begin to create and populate their own internal App Stores. These will deliver a mix of curated consumer and proprietary enterprise apps giving employers control and insight – and employees trusted environments of choice.

Businesses recognize that in an App environment in which even the most secure platform provider is grappling with threats, while other platforms offer slick marketing to hide inherent weakness, it behooves them to put together their own source of truth.

In the form of an enterprise app store.

None of this is new

While Enterprise App Stores will become far more commonplace, many already exist.

SAP has its own SAP Enterprise Store, for example. But a recent Gartner report predicts 40% of workers will manage their enterprise apps this way.

The model will only extend as incoming employees arrive to market with their own technologically sophisticated needs built as a result of a lifetime engaging with digital tools and App Store distribution.

  • These tech-savvy employees will want digital tools to be as easy to access as downloading an "app for that."
  • They will want intuitive user interfaces for those apps, will want apps that work together and will not want to navigate through confusing UI elements to find the function they need.
  • We already know employees will quit if the tech they use is worse than what they use at home, so there’s an HR need spurring this evolution.

Ultimately, this means enterprise app developers will approach app design from a widget-like approach, splicing business processes into modules.

This will enable employees — already used to piecing together a bunch of different apps in order to get things done in the consumer space — to adopt a similar approach at work: They will select the specific apps they need to handle the tasks their specific role requires.

Some will use more apps, some will use less. But the overall impact will be that the friction of app use will be reduced and autonomy and simplicity should unlock productivity.

Employees will also be equipped to use third-party apps that have passed through the IT support vetting process and have been whitelisted to work across a company network – while enterprises will be able to sandbox emerging solutions for use by authorized employees, enabling agile business users to use new tools that may augment the business need.

This gives employees the autonomy to use what are for them the best available tools for their job (including emerging solutions), while also protecting the business from hack, attack and user security slack.

The impact?

Enterprise app deployment becomes a frictionless user experience, just like consumer App Stores.

iPhone-wielding workers can use the best digital tools for the job, and the collections of apps used by workers can be changed in response to changing needs, nurturing business agility and digital dexterity.

There is a downside to this digital dance.

Not every company has the resources to launch its own proprietary app store; for that, there are service providers who may fill that gap.

At JNUC I spoke briefly with Setapp CEO Oleksandr Kosovan. He was there to evangelize the SetApp for Teams service, which offers Mac-based enterprises access to a collection of useful productivity apps for a set fee. The idea is that these apps are curated by Kosovan's company – and enterprises can scale their app deployments to demand.

While this service is only for Macs, it’s no great leap of imagination to add links to enterprise-approved iOS apps and distribution to proprietary enterprise apps to this kind of curated and branded store.

While Kosovan's is a consumer play with a background in consumer markets, firms like Arxan and others also offer proprietary App store solutions for enterprises.

It's likely the good times for this segment of the enterprise services business have only just begun.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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