By Phil Barnett, VP of Global Accounts at Good Technology

The modern workforce is ready and mobilised. So what’s next? Corporate apps will drive the next phase in the evolution of enterprise mobility, according to Ovum. The prediction comes as businesses recognise the power of corporate apps to create new ways of working, and transform existing business processes.

But the popularity of consumer mobile apps, which are often brought into the workplace, presents a hurdle to companies. How will organisations ensure workers get easy access to the right apps that make a difference to their work, whilst ensuring the apps on employees’ devices don’t breach governance requirements?

The good news is that companies can jump over this hurdle. The corporate app store is still a relatively untapped territory, yet it brings clear benefits — delivering an optimum user experience for employees, whilst IT managers can set and retain control over the software staff use and keep corporate data secure. As businesses shift from being mobilised to mobile-reliant, more businesses are predicted to make the investment in corporate app stores. By 2017, 25 per cent of companies will have a corporate app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices, according to Gartner, Inc.

Here’s a look at the reasons why Good Technology believes the corporate app store is on the rise:

“There’s an app for that” experience
Self-service — it’s a familiar concept across day-to-day scenarios — at petrol stations, restaurants, and now consumer app stores, allowing consumers to self-select the mobile apps they want. This concept works well — ensuring the consumer gets what they want quickly and efficiently. Increasingly, the ‘help yourself’ approach is extending to the enterprise too, as companies realise the benefits of enterprise mobile app stores.

Delivering a consumer-like experience sits at the core of a successful enterprise mobility strategy. Employees don’t want to be dictated to by their employers or feel like they’re being restricted. But they do want the best tools to help them efficiently do their jobs, and if their company can’t provide it, they’ll find an alternative. Corporate mobile app stores gives users one central location to find all mobile apps — custom-built or ISV. This allows employees to go in and create a tailor-made mobile app portfolio; cherry-picking the mobile apps they want to use to perform business tasks as easily and intuitively as if they were at their desks.

Of course, employees should have a good selection of apps. A corporate app store is no different to a consumer app store in this sense. Further to this, badge notifications can be provided when new featured apps or updates for downloaded apps become available, so employees always have the latest iterations.

Enterprise Control + Employee Satisfaction

For IT managers, whether a device is corporate-liable or personally owned, Android or iOS, getting the right apps to the right mobile devices should be at the centre of their mobility strategy. Corporate app stores are a great way to manage mobile app provision by making apps and updates easily available to workforces. And unlike consumer app stores, IT managers do not have to contend with making their apps stand out against millions of others.

Naturally it is still important to tailor apps offerings to workforce requirements. App supply alone is not a guarantee of successful corporate user adoption. Engaging and listening to what employees want and selecting apps based on business requirements is an important way for companies to ensure they supply the right apps. For example solutions exist for users to provide ratings and reviews of private corporate apps. Beyond that, apps metrics shed light on information including registered users and the apps downloaded and used. This makes it easy to form patterns around what types of solutions are of value to different user sets, such as the sales team in the field. These functions give IT managers the data they need to guide an effective mobile app investment strategy and enable mobile business transformation.

These steps also allow IT managers to more effectively secure their company’s data. The choice and user experience provided by a corporate app store means employees no longer use non-corporate approved apps that can disrupt IT security. Mobile app containerisation technology encrypts application data and provides a unique ability to securely share data between apps.

Reaching the Extended Enterprise
Making enterprise apps available doesn’t have to end at employees. An effective corporate app store can help organisations reach parties outside of the corporate directory, that form part of their extended enterprise. Why not distribute apps to authorised contractors, partners and distributors, as well as your employees? A fully private and custom-branded app store allows this to happen, without the need for MDM management of the device. That means the right apps can be delivered to even more devices — inside or outside the organisation.

In conclusion, organisations should naturally seek to maximise the investment they’ve made in their mobile strategies. Our research shows that companies are heavily bought into the value of corporate apps as a powerful tool to take advantage of mobile. Managing the proliferation of consumer apps being used by employees on their devices for work is still a challenge facing many businesses though. Corporate mobile app stores can go a long way to giving users the experience and choice they want, and putting IT back in control. This is why they should form an important part of an organisation’s secure enterprise mobility strategy.