IT's 6-step guide to adopting consumerization

Most businesses are accepting, even embracing, consumer technology. What do they know that you don't?

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Consumerization step 6: Build an app store that appeals to users

People who use mobile devices such as iPhones, Galaxys, and Droids are accustomed to going to app stores to easily download what they need for their devices.

For its own employees, Avanade is developing several enterprisewide mobile applications, including some that will connect employee mobile devices into the company's social computing capabilities such as employee profile pages, microblogging sites, video and media sharing, search, communities, and blogs.

The majority of enterprise applications are not optimized for mobile devices, and many users opt for work-arounds to access them, says Chris Miller, Avanade's CIO. "We can take lessons from the consumer app store model and apply that to meet the specific needs of the business environment," Miller says. On the commercial software front, both SAP and Oracle have invested in creating mobile clients to access their ERP and CRM systems, in recognition of the increasing endpoint diversity among users.

An enterprise app store should provide employees with a central portal to request an application across any number of devices -- from laptops and desktops to tablets and smartphones, Miller says. From a management perspective, it should also have built-in approval processes and workflows to manage costs and make sure the right people and teams are getting access to the tools they need.

And, says Avanade's McCune, enterprise app stores need to acknowledge the commercial apps available to users and steer them to preferred apps by adding links to the Apple App Store, Google Android Market, Microsoft Windows Store, and so on.

Consumerization is unstoppable, but that's OK

The consumer IT trend seems unstoppable, given the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, cloud tools, social tools, and mobile apps in the workplace. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing for technology executives.

Rather than looking at this development as another drain on IT's time and resources, organizations can embrace the opportunity to give workers new levels of productivity and flexibility, with the ability to work from virtually anywhere using the tools of their choosing.

If you understand your organization's risk tolerance and approach consumerization not as a threat but as a different way of managing, you can come up with an effective strategy that accounts for risk but also enables employees -- and, in turn, enables your business. The returns can be substantial.

This story, "IT's 6-step guide to adopting consumerization," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in consumerization of IT at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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