The Board wasn't initially enthusiastic, he recalls. Members worried whether or not e-contracts could be used to sell multi-million dollar products. They fretted over the idea of customers and partners reviewing and rating solutions. What if a review was negative?
The SAP Store has some of the same challenges as the Apple App Store. As an app curator, Apple has taken a lot of criticism for a lack of transparency when allowing some apps into the store and disallowing others. Apps that don't perform well, contain malware, or sneakily track user information bruise Apple's image. And then there were iOS developers gaming reviews to rise higher on all-important top ten lists.
"We have a lot of the same challenges, and I think even tougher because the enterprise concept of an app store adds in so many more complexities," Maloney says.
Consider the kind of apps on a consumer app store and an enterprise app store. An iPhone user who buys a buggy $.99 app on the App Store may be a little miffed. But software bought on the SAP Store that doesn't work in the customer environment can crash a manufacturing system and lose the company $10 million a day, Maloney says. "We have to worry much more about the quality, the certifications, these products go through."
Not just anyone can buy apps on the SAP Store, either. Newell Rubbermaid, for instance, has up to 60 different entities within the company but only two are allowed to purchase software on the SAP Store. "We've done a lot of great things there, but we still continue to struggle with those challenges," says Maloney.
[ Slideshow: 15 Best iPhone Apps for Busy CEOs ]
One of the great upsides of the SAP Store is that software has indeed been rigorously tested to work in various customer environments so that manufacturing systems don't crash. Apps are already designed to integrate into SAP.
Case-in-point: Liquid Analytics, a mobile software developer, put its expense and business analytics apps into the SAP Store earlier this year. Pre-integration played a key role; Liquid Analytics crunches data on the back end and serves up information to the iPhone and iPad via native iOS apps.
"The app has to tunnel into the enterprise and get to the business process within SAP where your travel and expense processes are already defined," says Vish Canaran, CTO of Liquid Analytics. "If you buy an app that is disconnected, you'll have to add in middleware with integration points to SAP."
Liquid Analytics also craved access to the SAP Store's many global enterprise customers. A good store also needs many product offerings to entice buyers to come to the store. This is known as liquidity in the parlance of e-markets. The SAP Store's liquidity is already paying off for Liquid Analytics. "We're at 5,000 subscribers and expecting around 10,000 by the end of this year, in terms of sales reps using the app," Canaran says.
Vendor-hosted enterprise app stores have instant liquidity at the expense of neutrality. That is, some vendors may feel that competitors are getting favorable treatment. Major vendors competing with the store host often won't participate, thus limiting the availability of heterogeneous solutions. Problems with neutrality have led to the demise of many e-markets.
"Oracle has no desire to even put anything or engage with us besides maybe some things on the database side of the house," Maloney says.