Secrets to a Successful Enterprise App Store

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By: John Juris

Gartner, Inc. recently weighed in on the future of enterprise app stores, reporting that by 2017, 25% of enterprises will manage corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices through an app store.

The growing importance of enterprise app stores isn't surprising. End users have been pushing hard on enterprise IT to make business apps available in a consumer-friendly way along the lines of iTunes and Google Play. What's more, savvy IT organizations have realized that users aren't the only ones who stand to benefit. Per Gartner, successful enterprise app stores can "increase the value delivered by the application portfolio and reduce the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses."

The key word here is successful. Online storefronts are relatively easy to set up. But for a store to be successful, a lot has to happen behind the scenes. So what are the secrets to success? Here's what tops the list:  

  1. Freedom of choice doesn't mean giving up control. If your app store presents people only with apps they're authorized to request, they get what they want and IT stays in charge.
  2. Approval workflows should offer extensive granularity and flexibility so you can control which app requests require approval, who can approve requests and what routing structure to use. Conditional routing based on cost, license availability, security groups, organizational unit and other factors is also a big plus. Automated workflow shrinks app delivery times so users don't have to wait weeks to get what they need
  3. A self-service portal has to create a consumer-oriented shopping experience that speeds order processing and improves accuracy. The shopping experience should include presentation of catalog items in local languages and local currencies. Organizing apps by category speeds navigation and bundling items that are typically ordered together simplifies ordering.
  4. Tying your app store into your app readiness process helps keep store shelves stocked with apps that are ready for immediate delivery to the user's device of choice.
  5. Data is the secret sauce. When users request an app, the store has to know how many licenses you own, how many are in use and how many are available. With real-time access to that information, at the time an employee requests an application, your store can automatically reserve licenses when users submit requests, maintain continuous license compliance and trigger procurement processes when additional licenses are needed.
  6. License reclamation and software leasing options give you a real edge in optimizing usage and spend. With ready access to software usage data, the app store solution can identify apps that are installed but not being used, and reclaim those licenses to eliminate overbuying. Software Leasing gives users access to an app for a limited period of time, after which the license is reclaimed. It's ideal for project-based environments where application needs change as employees move from one project to another.
  7. Connecting your app store to other enterprise systems brings an even higher level of efficiency and automation to your request and delivery process. By integrating with IT service management systems such as BMC Remedy, ServiceNow and Microsoft Service Manager, you can incorporate the app store into your service management processes to ensure that software delivery complies with corporate policies and external regulations. Integration with workflow solutions such as Microsoft System Center 2012 Orchestrator or Flexera Workflow Manager enable automated processes that span multiple systems.
  8. Successful app stores don't operate in a silo. They work in conjunction with application readiness, and software license optimization solutions as part of an overall Application Usage Management strategy that addresses the entire application lifecycle.

Keep these secrets in mind, and you'll create a successful enterprise app store that delivers the self service and easy access users are demanding while enabling IT to maintain control of the approval process and software license compliance. Best of all, you'll automate the entire request and delivery process to reduce the burden on IT while slashing the amount of time it takes to process app requests and deliver productivity-enhancing apps to your users.