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Intertech_January2014_72dpiToday’s workforce is mobile. With employees across various industries not only having access to personal smartphones and tablets, but using them on the job, mobile devices have permeated the enterprise landscape. While some businesses inevitably resist this trend, those that readily embrace it and take steps to support mobile usage will ultimately come out on top. Efforts to bolster enterprise mobility begin at the software level. Staff are already downloading and leveraging third-party apps, but these programs are unlikely to be geared toward the specific needs of an organization. This is the perfect opportunity for internal IT teams to step in and provide the software needed to make the best use of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Increasingly, companies find that constructing an enterprise app store (EAS) is the most effective way to put high-quality, in-house tools in the hands of their employees.

EAS usage is gathering steam and shows no signs of slowing down as more organizations look to accommodate enterprise mobility initiatives. A quarter of all companies will have an EAS in operations by 2017. Early adopters have stated that there are many benefits to be gained through an EAS beyond the convenience of having a centralized portal to dole out apps to employees, including:

  • Increased control over app usages – 72 percent
  • Reduced risk – 65 percent
  • Improved security capabilities – 61 percent

EAS continues to mature
BYOD may have spurred initial interest in EAS, but these internal deployment platforms will branch out to support other enterprise hardware as well. In addition to providing apps to mobile devices, EAS systems will be increasingly tasked with bringing desktop users the software they need to do their jobs effectively. EAS may also see further use hosting critical programs for emerging hybrid devices which bridge the gap between mobile platforms and traditional computers. In the future, EAS systems will stand at the center of enterprise software operations, becoming the core terminal for program procurement.

As EAS matures, the technology will begin to integrate more features that enhance the end user experience. For instance, social and context-aware components such as recommendation systems allow employees to rate the effectiveness of certain apps and publicly vouch for the best ones. This way, underperforming software can be easily identified and removed, leaving behind only the highest quality programs.

To get the ball rolling on an EAS project, businesses need to begin by optimizing their internal development teams. Like so many software-based initiatives, the main concern regarding an EAS venture is determining how to reach the widest audience possible. Focusing solely on iOS or Android development may stunt the reach of a particular project and limit the number of available end users. This is particularly true regarding mobile development, in which a litany of operating systems and form factors have created a diverse marketplace. Under these circumstances, programmers can successfully broaden their audience thru cross-platform development platforms such as Mono, PhoneGap, and Appcelerator Titanium. An alternate approach to cross-platform development is to create browser based, mobile-first applications.  In this approach, JavaScript continues to be widely used for mobile web-based applications.

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