Market research firm IDC reports that the mobile worker population passed the one billion mark in 2010 and estimates that this number will rise to make up more than a third of the world’s workforce by 2013. As companies look to take advantage of the mobile opportunity, ranging from cost savings to improvements in productivity, IT departments are struggling to ensure only approved apps (rather than Angry Birds) find their way onto company-owned devices.
In response to this growing IT headache, Verizon Wireless earlier this week announced the launch of the Verizon Wireless Private Applications Store for Business, a private application store for their enterprise customers. The proposition is simple in that each storefront will offer both company-created apps and third-party efforts, all optimized for use both inside and outside of corporate firewalls across any operating system, device or carrier.
However, there are two clear challenges which jump out at me. Firstly, as enterprises have learned over the past couple of years, the ability to offer an application across any operating system, device or carrier is both expensive, time consuming and often not realistic for organizations.
The second challenge is that although IT departments can develop this application storefront, the consumerization of IT has shown that employees will not wait for their employers to catch up to the market. If the applications available do not perform as well, or better than consumer apps, employees will simply bypass the storefront and return to the unapproved, yet bountiful app stores, of the relevant operating systems.
As a result, it’s essential that prior to launching a private storefront, the IT department are able to ensure those applications developed in-house reflect the personal preferences, requirements and devices of that company. Bringing “good enough” products to market is not an option.