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Burning Issues Every CIO Needs to Address About Employee App Management

IT’s Top Five Burning App Management Questions

Rolling out mobile enterprise apps has become a major IT trend in 2014. From BYOD policies to productivity tools, businesses are throwing open their corporate doors to smart phones and tablets to drive enterprise mobility, create new ways of working and transform existing business processes.

Juniper Research forecasts that the number of employee owned smart devices used in the enterprise will exceed 1 billion by 2018, while analysts at VisionMobile are forecasting the mobile enterprise app market to reach $58 Billion by 2016.  In the meantime, a recent Gartner study found that CIOs ranked mobile as a top three spending priority for 2014.

While ripe with opportunity, mobile enablement also throws up a plethora of new challenges for CIOs who are already preoccupied with complex IT issues such as how to harness Big Data, exploit Open Source and tackle disparate APIs while embracing the journey to Cloud.

With resource and budgets squeezed on all fronts, many CIOs are struggling to evolve a cohesive mobile strategy for their business – particularly those in mid-market companies.  Before they take their first steps into mobile app enablement, here are five burning questions that they want addressed:

1. How do we make our Apps environment secure?
Many employees are downloading their own apps from commercial sites to use in the work place; this can leave company data exposed.   CIOs are seeking to embrace this paradigm change using validated solutions that minimise risk. This includes authenticating, cataloguing and approving apps then placing them in a dedicated area that affords access management in a secure environment.

2. How do I enable the use and flow of mobile apps?
Launching, deploying and managing the use of mobile apps can be a complex process involving considerations such as version control, license management, quality, etc.  Enterprises need an easy ‘automated’ way to get apps quickly where they’re needed and effective device-based tools to help ensure that they’re used to maximum benefit.

3. How do I make it easy for users to install the approved apps?
It’s important to make it easy for staff to ‘do the right thing’, to use an approved app rather than one they source themselves – particularly when compliance is at stake.  CIOs need to be confident that usage is properly managed and that mechanisms are in place for creating an audit trail where appropriate.

4. What can be done to minimize on-going operational costs?
Installation and use of authenticated apps can pay dividends by reducing risk, ensuring  optimised connectivity and maintaining consistency of information across a mobile enabled workforce.  On-going costs are, therefore, known and managed allowing an enterprise to predictably benefit from the most efficient use of Mobility.

5. How will this enhance my IT department’s value to the business?
CIOs want their IT departments to add real value to the business.  Being able to proactively respond to business needs by developing and launching their own customised apps quickly is a cool way to do this.  Being able to do this without outsourcing development and using existing resources and skillsets to save time and money is even better.

So where are the answers?
Despite the challenges these issues represent, for many enterprises the solution may actually be relatively simple.

Online app store services are now available that let enterprises build their own custom app stores. The format required will be dependent on the IT department’s technical skills, as well as knowledge of publishing processes, but they can be used to deliver completed mobile apps to groups across all types of enterprise.

Curated app stores also offer useful dashboards to monitor usage and deployment, as well as security levels to provide appropriate access and are easy interfaces for employees to ensure they access approved apps. Some also include a development environment and infrastructure that handles the more complex steps during multi-platform development with open source tools like Cordova; as well as managing authentication, push, and store-forward-synchronisation.

IT departments would also be wise to invest in a simple online app building service. Using one that is HTML 5-based allows departments with no mobile experience to use their existing web-based skillsets to perform rapid app prototyping and also bespoke app development.  It also allows them to respond really quickly to business requests without having to go to a third party developer or incur additional costs.

What’s holding CIOs back?
With app management vendors pushing full service MAM, EMM and total BYOD management solutions, many CIOs are overwhelmed with overly complex options and overinflated spends.  While they are reluctant to commit, their businesses are exposed to more mobile-orientated competitors, which can result in lost revenue and custom.

For CIOs eager to take their first steps into mobile app management, it’s best to focus on getting the basics right with simple to use tools that let IT departments deploy apps in a way that makes it easier for the workforce to use them.  A curated corporate app store and a DIY, self-build app service may be all that’s needed to get the IT department on the path to mobile success and CIOs sleeping easier at night.

More Stories By Stuart Mason

Stuart Mason is CEO of 5app, a mobile enterprise enablement company working with businesses and communications service providers to provide enterprise-class support for mobile data and applications. www.5app.com