After our inspiring and thought-provoking interview with Geoff Stead, we were left wondering about the significance of having an internal app store (also known as ‘Enterprise App Store’) within organizations. We have been doodling and dreaming about this fascinating proposition for quite some time. Now, as we are planning to set up an internal app store for our company to make this a better place to work for our employees, we set out on a journey to explore and learn more about this concept. Read on... 

THE QUOTEQualcomm is huge – we have 30,000 staff, spread out all over the globe... our focus has been on creating an ecosystem for mobile. Not just mobile apps and content. We developed an internal app store, to be one single catalogue of all mobile friendly sites and apps across our business. We also worked with vendors to license and list their apps for all our staff. This has been a huge success for us, and has unified several different mobile-friendly initiatives across our business.”- Geoff Stead (Head of Mobile Learning, Qualcomm)The above quote is from our interview with Geoff Stead.THE JOURNEYAfter our inspiring and thought-provoking interview with Geoff Stead, we were left wondering about the significance of having an internal app store (also known as ‘Enterprise App Store’) within organizations. We have been doodling and dreaming about this fascinating proposition for quite some time. Now, as we are planning to set up an internal app store for our company to make this a better place to work for our employees, we set out on a journey to explore and learn more about this concept. Below are the questions we had in mind when we embarked on our journey:

  • What is an ‘internal app store’? What is its significance in today’s business scenario? What are the advantages? 
  • What is the process of setting up an internal app store? What are the options available? 
  • What are some of the interesting stories of organizations who have already implemented this successfully? What are the best practices?
  • What are some of the useful resources available on this subject?

THE GREAT FINDSMobile learning and performance support is not the future… It is the present! We see it happening all around us. It has already evolved as one of the most powerful and effective mediums for accessing information, for both personal and professional uses. Apart from the wider adoption of mobile learning devices mainly due to their accessibility and affordability, there is increasing acceptance of informal and social learning, along with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, and corporate Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). This has in turn started contributing to (accelerating the) exponential adoption and influx of mobile learning in workplaces. As we know, mobile learning is being used in organizations worldwide for their workforces today as:

  • A support system for formal learning (performance support)
  • Main means for informal and social learning (workplace learning and peer learning)   

With the penetration of mobile devices into organizations, more apps that address the specific needs of the organization are being developed for internal use. However, this has ushered in a few challenges as well for the IT departments, such as: 

  • Ensuring the Intellectual Property (IP) and security concerns of the company 
  • Managing frequent updation of apps from in a centralized way (whenever there are version upgrades)
  • Managing the usage information statistics for making good purchase/licensing decisions 

An internal app store (also called ‘Enterprise App Store’ or ‘Corporate App Store’) is the solution for addressing these challenges. This is basically an online store that enables a company to manage the different aspects related to the delivery (such as licensing and distribution) of approved mobile apps for its employees in an efficient way. This concept, which evolved from the original idea of Apple’s App Store model, is reshaping our perceptions of how both a software as well as a learning delivery system should function in today’s business scenario. This (model) helps manage delivery of mobile learning and performance support solutions within organizations in an efficient manner. Though this system has been in practice for the past few years within a few large enterprises, it is yet to catch up with smaller organizations and companies. The following are some of the ways for using internal app stores as a delivery platform within an organization to help the workforce be more efficient and effective:

  • For sharing a catalog of public apps curated for specific job functions 
  • For sharing a catalog of proprietary internal apps developed for specific job functions 

Below are some of the most interesting resources (from a big list we examined in this exploratory journey) on this subject that we would like to share with you.Survey

  • GartnerThis Gartner survey says that by 2017, 25 percent of the enterprises will have an Enterprise App Store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and other mobile devices!

Tools/Platforms

  • Build Breakthrough Apps For Your EmployeesA nicely structured article about developing in-house apps for iPhones and iPads that covers all phases of the development process such as planning, designing, developing, and deploying. This also includes some of the best practices that need to be adhered to. 
  • Deploying Internal Apps On An iPhoneA well-written article (by Scott Lowe) that neatly explains the steps that you need to take when deploying internal apps for iPhone users.  
  • Distribute Android Apps In Your OrganizationA How-To article (with a FAQ section) on the Google Play Private Channel that helps distribute internal Android apps to employees within organizations.

Videos

  • Are You Ready For An Enterprise App Store?A recorded webinar (from Apperian) that discusses 5 questions you should be asking yourself to determine if you are ready for an enterprise app store. 
  • SalesForce Private AppExchangeA video on Private AppExchange – the recently introduced app store solution from SalesForce that allows corporates to create their own internal app stores for distributing apps securely to their employees. 

Infographic

  • The Evolution Of The Enterprise App StoreA brilliant infographic (from SaaS Markets) on the evolution of Enterprise App Stores. It also depicts the types, benefits, and the future of this app delivery model.

Podcast

  • How Enterprise App Stores Help Drive ProductivityThe transcript of an interesting  podcast discussion from Dana Gardner (of Interarbor Solutions) that discusses how the Enterprise App Store model or methodology helps achieve productivity and speed-to-value benefits for employees in organizations using the AppWave solution. 

eBook

Articles

  • Enterprise App Stores Explained – Everything You Need To KnowA brilliant article by Geoff Stead (Head of Mobile Learning at Qualcomm) that discusses the strategy of an Open/Private model of enterprise app store that Qualcomm follows, and its merits over the other (Open/Public and Controlled/Private) models. It also includes a video in which you can see the ever vibrant Geoff explaining these strategies.
  • The Benefits Of Enterprise App StoresA cute little article (by Joseph Cheriyan) that explains the benefits of enterprise app stores.
  • Set Up An Internal Enterprise App StoreA brief article (from Processor.com) that explains the steps involved in setting up an internal enterprise app store with tips and an action plan.    
  • 6 Reasons Your Company Should Have Its Own App StoreA short article (by Raj Sabhlok) that takes a quick look at the major reasons for companies to have their own app stores, the key being security concerns, and the benefits associated with the deployment of this model. 
  • Enterprise App Stores Help Users And IT Get The Most From BYODAn article (by  Michelle Maisto) that discusses why enterprises need to do some research and planning before they take big steps such as establishing a BYOD policy, let alone creating a corporate app store.
  • Inviting The App Store Into Your EnterpriseAn article (by By Shivesh Vishwanathan) that takes a look at the key characteristics of app stores with a view to evaluate them for the enterprise. 
  • Why Your SaaS Strategy Should Include An Internal App Store In 2014An article (by Heather Clancy) that investigates why IT teams should consider establishing internal app stores. 

Case Studies

  • General ElectricA study of how Mobile Center for Excellence - General Electric's in-house mobile task force - built the GE Internal App Store, to simplify downloads of company-specific apps for its 300,000+ employees, and manages it successfully.
  • CISCOA report about how CISCO carefully chooses apps for its 43,000 employees who carry their own mobile devices to their workplaces under a BYOD program.

White Paper

  • Building An Enterprise Application StoreThis brilliant whitepaper from Infosys discusses the key features and benefits of enterprise mobile-enabled platforms, along with best practices that can be used to address some of the major challenges involved in building an enterprise application store. The paper also includes a brief on Flypp Enterprise – the enterprise application store developed by Infosys to help organizations create in-house and customized business applications. 

Success Story

  • Barclay’s StoryThe story of how Barclays implemented an internal app store that delivers business-focused apps for its employees, and provides support for their internal social networking and collaboration requirements for helping their daily activity needs. 

OUR LEARNINGSAs we came to end of our search, we had the following learnings as ‘take-aways’ from our little journey:

  • Many companies have started adopting internal app stores for managing mobile performance support for their employees today to increase productivity. Many successful cases of implementation of internal app stores by organizations worldwide point to the benefits of this system as a perfect model for delivering timely information for its employees. In the learning context too, it is imperative today to adopt this strategy as an integral part of learning delivery, along with the delivery methods that we are already following for other types of learning (such as Learning Management Systems (LMSs)). 
  • We foresee Learning & Development (L&D) to be the driving factor/force behind this initiative of managing (planning, designing, developing, and deploying) company apps through internal app stores.
  • We believe that in the near future, every organization, big or small, will have its own internal app store to manage workplace learning for its employees. 
  • Mobile technology offers tremendous possibilities for learning and performance support at workplaces. We expect to see today’s internal app stores evolving into more robust and interesting models to accommodate and leverage these emerging mobile technologies.

What are your thoughts and experiences on setting up internal app stores in organizations? What resources would you like to share on this subject?