I know, I know, how many enterprise mobility buzz words can I throw into one title? No, I’m not doing this to simply grab your attention via a catchy headline (it’s not even that catchy), but instead, I do want to call to your attention something that I believe will become an increasingly important issue as your organization deploys mobile applications. It’s a bit of a subtle proposition so far, but like I said, I believe that this will becoming an increasingly complex and important issue moving forward. It’s based upon the convergence of a number of five forces:
- The continued adoption of individually liable devices
- The accelerating adoption (and proliferation) of mobile App Stores
- The continued adoption of enterprise mobile applications (home grown, canned and customized)
- The emergence of Enterprise mobile App Stores
- The continued corporate scrutiny of wireless expenses.
Where the heck am I going with this, you might ask yourself. It actually comes down to that last point….managing expenses. But let’s not talk about wireless expense management, because that’s typically more focused on device and service related issues. I’m talking about the next level – specifically on application licensing costs.
So first things first. I am a big fan of the notion of enterprise app stores for mobile devices. This is a great way for organizations to manage and federate the kinds of applications that specific types of employees can and should be using, while providing the employee a great self-service tool to access those applications. However, things get tricky – very tricky in fact – when you are NOT talking about home grown applications. Here are some scenarios you will need to consider:
- The $4.99 app that your employee just purchased and wants to expense. What if that’s the only thing on their expense report. I know, a rare, but plausible scenario. I was talking to a company yesterday that says the all-in cost of an expense report is about $20. So the company just paid $25 for something worth $5. Sounds like government-grade “efficiency” to me.
- I just browsed the iTunes App Store and saw that the most popular paid application in the business category is “Documents To Go Premium.” That’s $14.99 a pop. What if you wanted to provide that application on your own private enterprise app store? How do you go about managing that? You’re going to have to negotiate something with DataViz – whether it’s an unlimited site wide license or X number of total licenses and then it magically disappears from your enterprise app store. 1,000 seats is $15k at list price. Regardless of the quality of the app, $15k is $15k. How are you going to manage the internal charge backs. There will obviously be a cost to that. At least it won’t be dinged by the $20 expense report cost…or will it?
- What about free applications? You definitely have to find a way to integrate those into your private app store. What if it’s a free application from a company like Oracle? There will definitely be additional costs involved. (Doesn’t Oracle charge for you to breathe???)
Now mind you, I haven’t even touched upon authentication, authorization, LDAP and Active Directory integration – which gets all the more “fun” with a global organization or any organization that has to deal with third party standards compliance.
My point is that while there are many compelling advantages of deploying your own enterprise mobile app store, I will urge you to proceed with caution. This is obviously not simply a technology question, but goes to the core of how your organization is developing and executing on its enterprise mobility strategy. Time to beat a dead horse.
Plan, plan, plan. And do it with an ITSM mindset. You need to have this be all a part of your mobility policy document, otherwise you could very quickly finid yourslef opening Pandora’s Box.