Enterprise apps stores - why they're the future for business

Mark Samuels Advice
13 Jan, 2014

More companies are looking at the benefits of enterprise apps stores, but what are the advantages?

The rise of the enterprise app store is a phenomenon that is set to shake up the IT industry. Analyst Gartner recently predicted that a quarter of all enterprises would run an app store by 2017. So, how can CIOs help their organisations deal with the increase in demand?

An interest in apps is commensurate with a sharp rise in demand for mobile products to intractable business challenges. This has meant a shift in business culture too: users at all levels of the organisation are now able to access information through mobile phones and tablets, devices that have been personally purchased or provided by the business.

Employees are used to accessing certain information on the move, such as email and social media, but they want to take mobility to the next level. Employers, too, recognise the potential power of handheld technology. Research from software specialist IFS suggests the vast majority (76 per cent) of organisations have already discovered clear benefits from investing in mobility schemes, with key drivers including flexibility and productivity.

The IFS research, which draws on the opinions of 200 CIOs and IT managers, reports that more than two thirds (71 per cent) of businesses are already investing in business applications for their employees. Such apps include expense, timesheet and document management. And Martin Gunnarsson, director of research and strategy at IFS, says reticent CIOs will have to embrace change.

“There’s still a proportion of businesses that don’t recognise the relevance of mobility,” he says. “But in future, certainly three to four years from now, then we will be considering the importance of things like wearable devices. Business executives will be looking at mobility in a completely different way.”

Mark Austin, CIO at Bedford NHS Trust, says there is an ever-increasing requirement for staff to work with data on the go. By providing the right knowledge to staff, it is easier for his organisation to make decisions quicker. The results can be significant, both in terms of employee productivity and patient care.

Three to four years from now, we will be considering the importance of things like wearable devices. Business executives will be looking at mobility in a completely different way

“By optimising when drugs are given, for example, you can decrease the patient stay,” says Austin. “Mobility is about making sure staff have access to the right information when they need it.” In terms of a strategic approach, the Trust is already trying to find ways to allow healthcare staff to access enterprise apps on their own devices.

In the future, Austin expects the level of security to be such that workers will be able to upload approved apps as required. The key here, as Gartner recognises, will be enterprise app stores. The analyst says such stores promise greater choice, and potentially control, over the apps used by employees.

IT specialist Dell recently joined a growing number of companies operating their own app stores. The firm opened the store for testing towards the end of 2013. Dell hopes the store will make it easier for workers to use employer-sanctioned software. About 200 IT employees and senior managers are testing the store, which currently contains 10 apps, including an expense reporting app that lets employees use their phone cameras to scan travel receipts for automatic processing.

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