5 reasons to build an enterprise mobile app store

IT departments can keep employees from using malware-infested mobile apps by creating an internal store of company-approved apps

You can keep employees from using malware-infested mobile apps by creating an enterprise store of company-approved apps. Here five reasons to set up your own app store.

1. They improve quality control. One way to make sure employees don't download bogus apps is to create an enterprise app store where they can get company-approved apps. Twenty-five percent of enterprises will have an app store by 2017, Gartner predicts, in part due to this greater degree of control.

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Michele Pelino, an analyst at Forrester Research, says app stores ensure that the correct versions of apps or content are being used. "If you don't have some way of controlling that, you have people using different versions or apps that you don't want them to get access to," she says.

2. You can gather user feedback. With a corporate app store, IT has greater visibility into user habits than with a consumer app store. IT can monitor user behavior or measure productivity and create recommendation engines to suggest relevant apps to try out. It's a two-way street: Employees can use the store's feedback section to show likes, dislikes and preferences.

3. They can impress the business execs. Managing the complex ecosystem of apps created by lines of business is a huge challenge for IT, but enterprise app stores are a step toward simplifying that, says Rohit Sharma, head of the mobility practice at Virtusa, an IT consultancy.

He says IT can prove its value to business executives by using an app store to manage the apps for bring-your-own-device programs and eventually for distributing desktop software, too. "The message [IT] is sending to the internal audience is that they care about it," he says.

4. They give the tech staff a break. A survey by Partnerpedia, a mobile-app-management company, found that 86 percent of enterprises want a self-service model where employees download apps themselves, thus freeing the IT staff for other tasks. The concept of an app store is well understood by employees who have used a public app store, Pelino says. IT can also automate the procurement of software licenses from app stores, according to Gartner, and push out updates.

5. They're more secure than public app stores.According to Forrester, 60 percent of firms in North America and Europe are supporting personally owned devices, which makes security tougher to manage.

With an enterprise app store, IT can prohibit the use of certain apps, such as file-sharing services that tend to spread malware. If users complain when they can't use preferred apps on their devices, IT can set up a passageway to consumer app stores. Then if the desired app is accessed through the corporate app store, IT can still control its use.

Lauren Brousell is a staff writer for CIO magazine. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.

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This story, "5 reasons to build an enterprise mobile app store" was originally published by CIO.

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