The Appification of the Enterprise

July 20, 2011 Pivotal Labs

Last week we posted a report from mobile analytics firm Flurry about The Appification of the Internet. Not surprisingly, the report shows that mobile content is increasingly being consumed via native applications as opposed to the browser. Now, as operating systems like Android, iOS, Windows, and webOS mature, we are starting to see some of their focus shift towards the needs of enterprise users. It makes sense given that enterprise users are the same people using an increasing number of native applications to consume news, interact with friends, and watch sports.

In short, the use of mobile applications in the enterprise is about to explode.

Mobile device management (MDM) systems in most organizations are now able to successfully deploy devices running any of the major mobile operating systems. The last remaining hurdles in the appification of the enterprise are content and distribution.

The App Store Volume Purchase Program

Last Tuesday, Apple quietly announced a significant improvement to the way IT departments will purchase and distribute publicly available iOS applications. The App Store Volume Purchase Program for Business is a solution that allows businesses to purchase public applications in volume for distribution to their teams. Once purchased, the applications can be distributed through manual installation, a private enterprise app store, iTunes, or wirelessly via a secure web server. So why is this change important? Because prior to this program, the sale and deployment of paid applications to address specific enterprise markets was inefficient. Software developers had little incentive to develop solutions for broad enterprise markets because they could not distribute them for volume purchase through the App Store. In other words, there was no sales channel.

A Practical Example

Imagine your organization was running customer relationship management (CRM) software that had a companion mobile application available for sale through the iTunes store. How would you purchase that application for each of your 100/1,000/10,000 sales reps and ensure that it was installed on each of their devices? You probably wouldn’t. The more likely case would be that some of your employees would purchase the app and expense it (or not) while the rest wouldn’t bother.

A Signal of Things to Come

The volume purchase program described above is just one example from one app store. RIM has always been a leader in the distribution of mobile software in the enterprise; and Microsoft and HP are certainly thinking deeply about how enterprise-grade applications are sold and distributed. Each of the mobile platform developers knows that the enterprise is the next frontier in mobile content.

Content Is King… Even in the Enterprise

Users have certain expectations about the quality and breadth of available mobile content. The key to driving application revenue via the enterprise is the same as it is for personal use; content availability.

The easier it is for mobile software developers to distribute their products, the more products they will create.

We look forward to creating some of those products with you.

Jeremy Black is a Business Development Manager at Xtreme Labs and can be reached at Jeremy.black@xtremelabs.com

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