We have to be careful about anticipating the success of enterprise app stores, based purely on the success of consumer models. There are some key operational hurdles to overcome, which Dion discusses in his post.
Personally, I’m interested to also see how this plays out in terms of the user experience of enterprise app stores – the risk is that not just IT departments, but that users will also be nonplussed. Mobile app stores work because locating and downloading compatible mobile apps was quite painful for the average user. However, most mobile apps are self-contained or integrate with other online tools that they are already personally familiar with – the mobile app is often an extension of an existing desktop app or cloud service. If the app requires payment, then the user supplies their own credit card details. This makes the process easy and convenient, but it is generally an individual experience.
But in the workplace we don’t work alone and the social business aspects of enterprise app stores will be important to making them successful.
However, I think it will be less about what is ‘popular’ and more about who is using what, what do I need to use, etc. Users (individuals and business groups) themselves should also have the ability to publish their own applications and configurations (based on existing applications). So I expect to see application profiles that allow people to access sets of recommended apps for particular roles or business activities (perhaps copied directly from someone else, already doing that job).
Another fundamental issue is the ability of users to understand what an app will actually do. Not everyone in the workplace – at least at this point in time – has a predisposition to spend time exploring, experimenting with and configuring different tools. Super users will love app stores, but they only make up a small proportion of the workforce.
However, for me the bottom line is that enterprise users won’t adopt enterprise app stores unless it actually adds value. Afterall, users are already successfully navigating around corporate IT – so there needs to be something compelling to make them ‘switch’ to the enterprise app store.