App stores such as iTunes and Google Play have revolutionised our lives and centralised directories for businesses have the potential to do the same. The market for Australian management software, devices and services will reach $5.5 billion by the end of the decade, growing from $3.3 billion in 2016 as Australian businesses strive to stay ahead of the digital and mobile curve.
It’s no surprise then that enterprise app stores are growing in importance – tapping into this vast potential should be a priority for businesses operating within the industry. Meeting the high demand for consumer-friendly business applications is essential to winning in the world of E-commerce. Additionally, the benefits of successful enterprise app stores are two-fold as they can increase the value delivered by the application portfolio while reducing the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses.
Online storefronts may be easy to set up but for a store to be successful, a lot has to happen behind the scenes. Here’s what tops the list:
1. Freedom of choice is beneficial to all. Presenting consumers with only the options that they are authorised to request allows consumers to fulfil their preferences and for IT to stay in charge. App stores offer an effective way to eliminate the likelihood of Shadow IT. By providing rapid access to software and services, IT can retain control of the procurement and delivery process.
2. Request, Approve, Deploy: 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, organisational unit and other factors is also a big plus. Automated workflows shrink app delivery times so users don’t have to wait weeks to get what they need.
3. Simplicity is key: According to Nielsen, 24 per cent of Australians value convenience when purchasing a new product. In both their personal and professional lives, consumers have become accustomed to rapidly fulfilling their needs. 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. Organising apps by category speeds navigation, and bundling items that are typically ordered together simplifies ordering.
4. Seamless integration: As the workforce gets increasingly more mobile and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) becomes the norm, app stores can provide apps for all devices – desktop, virtual, and mobile in one go. This allows employees to request an application once and have it deployed to all of their devices at the same time. Automated enterprise app stores go one step further by proactively suggesting apps that are available for other registered devices.
5. App Readiness: Tying your app store into your Application Readiness process helps keep store shelves stocked with apps that are ready for immediate delivery to the user’s device of choice. Key phases include identifying applications and new requests, validating and eliminating redundancy, determining compatibility for the target environments and packaging formats, planning for resources required, packaging and testing for target environments, and finally publishing application for deployment.
6. Data, data, data: 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. Real-time access to that information from the time an employee requests an application allows your store to automatically reserve licenses when users submit requests, maintain continuous license compliance, and trigger procurement processes when additional licenses are needed.
7. Software licenses: License reclamation and software leasing options give you a real edge in optimising 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.
8. Integration: 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 and ServiceNow, 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 enable automated processes that span multiple systems.
9. A cog in the machine: Successful app stores don’t operate in a silo. They work in conjunction with Application Readiness, and Software License Optimisation solutions as part of an overall Application Usage Management strategy that addresses the entire application lifecycle.
Applying these key points is essential to creating a successful enterprise app store that can deliver the self-service and easy access demanded by consumers. This also allows IT to maintain control of the approval process and software license compliance. As a result, the entire request and delivery process will be automated, reducing the workload of IT, reducing the time needed to process add requests and deliver productivity-enhancing apps to your users. Winning in the world of E-commerce isn’t easy but with these fundamentals in mind, businesses can ensure they are on the right path to success for themselves and their employees.