Gartner recently weighed in on the future of enterprise app stores, reporting that by 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will manage corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices through an app store.

The growing importance of enterprise app stores isn’t surprising. End users are pushing enterprises hard to make business apps available in a consumer-friendly manner along the lines of iTunes and Google Play.

However, savvy IT organisations have also realised that they too stand to benefit – according to Gartner, successful enterprise app stores can “increase the value delivered by the application portfolio and reduce the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses.”

The key word here is successful. Online storefronts are relatively easy to set up. But for an enterprise app store to be successful, a lot has to happen behind the scenes in order to deliver business apps in a consumer-friendly manner along the lines of iTunes and Google Play. Take a look at some suggestions below:

  1. Don’t give up control. If your app store presents people only with apps they are authorised to request, they get what they want and IT stays in charge. Offering users freedom of choice doesn’t mean giving that IT must give up control.
  2. Automate approval workflows and ensure they offer extensive granularity and flexibility so you can control which app requests require approval, who can approve requests and what routing structure to use. Incorporating conditional routing based on cost, licence availability, security groups, organisational units and other factors is also a big plus. This shrinks app delivery times for users too.
  3. Create a consumer-oriented shopping experience including presentation of catalog items in local languages and local currencies. Organising apps by category speeds navigation, bundling of items, simplifies ordering and speeds up order processing.
  4. Tie the app store into your software packaging and deployment processes to keep store shelves stocked with ‘ready to be delivered’ apps.
  5. Put processes in place that let you know in real-time how many licences you own, how many of those are in use and how many are available – for each and every app. This will allow the app store to automatically reserve licences when users submit requests, and the IT department to maintain continuous license compliance and trigger procurement processes when additional licenses are needed.
  6. Incorporate licence reclamation and software leasing options in your app store to give you an edge in optimising usage and spend. This will enable the app store to identify apps that are installed, but not being used, and reclaim those licences to eliminate overbuying. This is ideal for project-based environments where application needs change as employees move from one project to another.
  7. Connect your app store to other enterprise systems to facilitate even higher levels of efficiency and automation to your request and delivery process. By integrating the app store with IT service management systems such as BMC Remedy, ServiceNow and Microsoft Service Manager, you can incorporate the app store into your service management processes to ensure that software delivery complies with corporate policies and external regulations.
  8. Don’t operate your app store in a silo. Integrate it with your overall application usage management strategy – right from software packaging and deployment through to compliance and usage management of each, thereby covering the entire lifecycle of every single app.

Create an enterprise app store that delivers the self-service and easy access users are demanding while enabling IT to maintain control of the approval process and software licence compliance. By using these practical tips, you’ll automate the entire request and delivery process to reduce the burden on IT while slashing the amount of time it takes to process app requests and deliver productivity-enhancing apps to your users.