Five Critical Mistakes to Avoid when Building an Enterprise App Store

Enterprise app stores are becoming a critical component of enterprise mobility. More and more enterprises are either building or looking to build enterprise app stores to distribute and manage enterprise mobile applications. The increasing usage of tablets such as the iPad, the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomena and organizational wide activity in rolling out enterprise applications is forcing businesses to seek a way to manage, maintain and control the distribution of these applications. These factors are driving them to build enterprise app stores within their organization.

When it comes to building and running enterprise app stores, it is critical for organizations  to learn from the mistakes of their industry peers. Organizations should look at case studies and data that give insight as to why some of the initiatives around enterprise app stores have resulted in either failure or low usage within an enterprise.

While the specific factors for low adoption and outright failure tend to vary from organization to organization, there are some common denominators that apply across a broad range of organizations. When building an enterprise app store, certain mistakes should be avoided, and they should be kept in mind with reference to the top 10 best practices which I have outlined in my earlier blog post.

Below are the top five mistakes to avoid when building an enterprise app store:

1. No easy discovery: The biggest mistake organizations make is they do not provide easy discovery of the applications in an Enterprise App store. This problem is often unnoticeable initially as the number of apps is limited and manageable. However, over a period of time, as the numbers of apps grow, discovery becomes a very important aspect of the app store. Apps should be categorized with the ability to provision bookmarks and favorites.

There should be seamless search and discover capability to get to the desired set or a specific app from the collection.

Discovery also helps in avoiding duplicationIf someone can easily discover an app for a specific purpose, they are less likely to duplicate its functionality in another app and perhaps use that app to solve the business problem or re-use the components, design and code from the existing app to build a new one.

2. Absence of feedback and ratings: Ratings and feedback are critical components of the enterprise mobile application. If the app store does not provide this information, then it is very hard to track user satisfaction of the app within the organization. It is important to get feedback and ratings from users separately and then tie it to the app usage data.The app store should provide a view where apps in a particular category such as human resources can be ranked by ratings in a search or on the dashboard.

3. Lack of social media integration: Many organizations are using social media for internal communications and sharing. The enterprise app store should have a seamless integration with social media to facilitate the information, discovery, recommendations, likes and comments on the apps. This facilitates discovery and draws internal users to the app store.

There should also be a way to gather feedback, comments, likes and recommendations from the internal social media sites and apps to the enterprise app store.

4. No security, privacy and integrity vulnerability assessment: When an app is submitted for publishing on the enterprise app store, the administrative and review board should check it against a security vulnerability check list. Many organizations maintain software and programs to check apps against a security and cyber threat vulnerability assessment list.

For example, if the company policy is to not allow unencrypted data links, then the app should not connect to outside third party web services over unsecured communication or data links.

The vulnerability assessment list should be kept up-to date with newly found and documented vulnerabilities. Similarly, an assessment needs to be done on the  privacy related compliances to ensure that no data is disclosed or leaked to unauthorized persons within the enterprise, to third party sites, to apps via links or by using third party services (such as geo location or mobile check in).

5. Not enforcing UX, UI, visual design and other best practices: The enterprise app store is a good place to enforce the published guidelines and best practices, the most important of which are around consistency across the enterprise in user experience (UX), visual designs, color and navigation schemes and other UI and UX guidelines.

For instance, if an app has a different color scheme, variation in logo or font from the published guidelines, then it should be rejected with feedback on why it was rejected and what should be done to bring it in compliance with the enterprise app store publishing guidelines.

In conclusion, the fundamental reason users visit an enterprise app store is to discover apps and get other users’ feedback. Thus discovery, security vulnerability assessment, social media interaction/recommendations, following and enforcing best practices and standards around UX, UI and visual look and feel, are the key factors that determine the success or failure of the enterprise app store within the organization. What do you think are the most common mistakes organizations should avoid when building an enterprise app store? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This post (list) was originally published on CIO.com on July 05, 2012, and is re-posted here by permission.