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Predictions

Cimarron Buser (Global) - Gartner Predictions 2013 (Opinion): Time to Start Thinking About the Enterprise App Store

With 2013 fast approaching, IDG Connect is serializing commentary from industry experts on Gartner's 2013 predictions over this week. Read our full series of pieces dedicated to the technology trends of 2013.

There is a renaissance in having an "enterprise app store" and companies are ready for in-house apps as we head into 2013. However, a strategy needs to be in place in order to enjoy the fruits of a mobile apps program both for the user/employee and the IT department. While it is exciting for businesses to get their first app up and running, organizations need to think about scalability, reliability, security and ongoing maintenance.

The "enterprise app store" has become the focal point for larger forces behind the scenes: a full lifecycle management system for mobile apps. According to Gartner's predictions, by 2014 there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores every year. The explosion of apps has been driven by several factors, including the increased ease of creating mobile apps, better methods of securing and managing apps, and self-serve models that appeal to the "in house consumer."

It's easier than ever to create mobile apps. Options abound with HTML5 and JavaScript based tools that can run in the browser, or be converted to native apps. Businesses that may have sat on the sidelines due to the perceived complexity and cost of building a native iOS or Android app now have a wide variety of options. These include "drag and drop" systems, write-once-deploy-to-many and even traditional mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) companies that are providing increased flexibility. On top of that, the native Xcode and Android development kits - which ultimately still deliver the highest quality apps - are significantly improved from the Version 1.0 days. The availability of development frameworks, mobile back end services, and easy and inexpensive access to cloud services have reduced the time to create an app from months to weeks or days.

The security bugaboo that haunted IT in the early days of mobile seems to be somewhat tamed. Companies that use MDM to solve basic "device management" and email setup now realize that the apps and corporate data are the real battlefield, not the device. By automating the app workflow, providing app inspection and "on the fly" app security policies based on roles, newer architectures have evolved to make the job of secure deployment painless. No longer is it required to build security into an app: it can be done by the administrator as needed as part of the deployment workflow.

BYOD has driven IT managers to relax the "central command and control" model to allow enterprise apps and data to sit side-by-side with personal content. There is now room for both the corporate-owned device used by executives, and the personal device brought to work by Gen X'ers, as importantly, companies realize the value of investing in a "great experience" for employee apps. Happy users will want to use apps, share them with others, and contribute to the company "knowledge base." And, users that feel that they are part of the ecosystem will provide feedback, ultimately contributing to a successful mobile program and increasing ROI.

What will the future bring? We're not far from the day when individuals within companies will not just suggest apps, but create them, request their distribution and compete with others for recognition and rewards within a company through crowd sourcing and voting. Some early indicators are seen with experiments like the "Apps for the Army" challenge or within tech-based companies. However, this can expand to organizations of all kinds as tools improve. These "home brew" apps may ultimately compete with commercial off-the-shelf products, and supplement the "big project" app model to creatively solve problems and make work life easier. In this model, IT's role changes from that of a bottleneck to a cheerleader. And, of course, ensuring apps are safe, secure, provided to the right people, and updated with an end-to-end mobile app management solution, it's a win-win for everyone.

By Cimarron Buser, Vice President of Business Development, Apperian

 

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