Apps for Enterprise Use

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Apps for Enterprise Use

by Geoff Keston

Docid: 00021096

Publication Date: 2005

Report Type: TUTORIAL


Mobile apps built with the security and reliability
of enterprise software are forcing organizations to develop new
policies. These “enterprise apps” can’t effectively be managed like
massive software packages or like simple consumer downloads. Instead,
they have traits of each, as well as some
characteristics of their own. Understanding these enterprise apps is
becoming increasingly important for organizations because the software
is developing into an extension of critical platforms for
customer relationship management and other core functions.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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Far from being simple, low-cost, consumer-oriented
products, enterprise mobile apps perform
business critical functions.

Enterprise Application Platforms Tutorial
Mobile Applications Tutorial
Stores Tutorial
Device Management Tutorial

Some enterprise apps provide
access to platforms
for customer
relationship management, knowledge management, or learning management,
for example. Enterprise IT staffs thus need to think about how
to secure, manage, and monitor this type of software – traditional
tools and processes for software will only be partially effective. In particular,
security is a common concern about enterprise apps, because they
perform critical functions and handle important data, but they reside
on mobile platforms, whose security is still maturing.

market for enterprise apps is smaller than the
market for mobile
hardware and services, but it is growing rapidly. There are also many
marketplaces available that sell only enterprise apps, certifying them
more stringently than consumer app stores do. These marketplaces are
often run by vendors of large-scale enterprise software platforms, like
Salesforce or Microsoft, who use these stores to distribute third-party
software that extends the functionality of their own products.

manage enterprise apps, a good first step is to take an inventory of
all that are in use. Unlike large applications or software apps, many
of these apps can be
forgotten or hard to discover, as they might be stored on an individual
user’s phone. Another step is to consider existing policies for
managing software – such as purchasing, installing, and
troubleshooting – and then adapt them to enterprise apps. While
enterprise apps are different in some key ways from other software,
they have enough similarities so that current IT staff processes for
ensuring their security, reliability, and performance will only need to
be revised, not developed from scratch.


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Apps are software designed for mobile platforms,
although some can also be used on desktops. Most apps are either for
consumers or general productivity use. Thus, they tend to be small and
low-cost. But enterprise apps are somewhat more like what is commonly
called “enterprise software,” large-scale applications that
enterprises use for critical business functions.

Describing enterprise apps, technology writer Adrian
Bridgwater says,
talking about hardcore enterprise applications that are built for
mission critical use cases with a different kind of precision
excludes from this definition consumer apps that are used for business,
like Twitter, and
business apps that are used by consumers, like Word.

Because enterprise apps aim to be scalable, secure, and
reliable, they are designed differently.
Specifically, Bridgwater
identifies the following differences in enterprise
app design:2

  • More work is done on architectural issues before
    the software is put
    into operation, and more testing is performed.
  • The software’s in-built auditing capabilities are
    “far deeper and far
    more fine-grained.”
  • Encryption is typically more extensive.

Another way that enterprise apps are distinguished
consumer and
ordinary business apps is by the marketplaces through which they are
sold. Consumer and general business apps are distributed through the
Apple Store or Google Play. These marketplaces are open to any
developer, and the software is often not well vetted.3
The software is also easy to buy and installs automatically, without

Vendor-led app stores, on the other hand, are
operated by providers of
popular enterprise software and are limited to software that works
with the vendor’s platform. The apps in the stores are typically
certified by
the provider. Leading examples include the following:4

  • BlackBerry Marketplace
  • Marketo Launchpoint
  • Microsoft AppSource
  • Oracle Cloud Marketplace
  • Salesforce Appexchange
  • ServiceNow Store
  • Zendesk App Marketplace

of the apps distributed through these stores are designed specifically
extend the capabilities of the vendor’s enterprise software, so the
advantage to
the store’s host is that its software becomes more feature-rich.

These marketplaces tend to look like consumer
stores, with ratings, vendor
profiles, and other convenience features. The marketplaces are also
large, some having many thousands of apps in a wide variety
of categories. But the types of apps in these enterprise marketplaces
are much different. “We’re not talking
about widgets, point utilities, or dollar store apps,” says ServiceNow,
which maintains its own store.5
As examples of the types of enterprise-caliber functions of such apps,
ServiceNow says that these third-party products “can streamline and
automate complex business
processes across multiple systems and deliver enterprise-scale impact
and results.”

A goal of these
vendor-led marketplaces is to take some of the confusion out of the
process of selecting apps and to give enterprise customers a more
place to shop. But the proliferation of marketplaces may create
more confusion. For example, Honeywell in 2019 announced that it
was forming a store of its own, even though it is more of a hardware
company than a software platform provider.6
Honeywell expressed an interest in making the shopping process more
like a consumer app store. If vendor-led app stores become
commonplace and tend to focus more on convenience than security, some
of the benefits of enterprise marketplaces may diminish.

Current View

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An Increased Strategic Role

high-profile deal struck in 2018 suggests that the field may have
reached a new
phase in the
maturity of enterprise apps. Salesforce, which is the leading provider
of enterprise-wide customer relationship management software, agreed to
enterprise apps for the Apple iOS platform.7
In late 2019, the Apple-Salesforce partnership was expanded, including
the release of a software development kit that enables outside parties
to create Salesforce software for Apple devices.8 For Apple, the deal shows how the
company’s position in the
mobile and consumer markets can be leveraged into a position in the
enterprise market. For Salesforce, it demonstrates the
importance of offering enterprise-caliber mobile software in addition
to cloud-based enterprise applications, which have been its

If the Apple-Salesforce partnership turns out to be
the harbinger of similar deals, then the larger trend will be one in
which enterprise
mobile apps are
becoming full-fledged extensions to enterprise software, not mere
add-ons or utilities. Some of the types of platforms whose capabilities
could be extended by such mobile apps include:

  • asset management
  • customer relationship management
  • database management
  • enterprise resource planning
  • knowledge management
  • learning management

Security Concerns and Enterprise App Stores

Many organizations have hundreds or
thousands of apps
in use. Each app gives hackers another way into the enterprise, and
each has somewhat different characteristics that need to be factored into securing it. “Consider
the number of applications the
typical company has in place today – some for communications, some for
resource tracking, some for production and others with more granular
and specific capabilities,” says security company Trend Micro.9 “What’s more, managers have to consider the
shadow IT that could (and usually is) taking place within the
enterprise – if an employee isn’t familiar or doesn’t like the
functions of an app, he may download something else, without the
approval or oversight of the IT team.” 

Any application can create risks such as
data leakage or give hackers a way into the broader network.10
In some respects, enterprise apps are less risky, because they are
typically acquired through stores that vet the software. But in other
respects, the risk is perhaps greater because the software
connects directly to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems,
accounting packages, and other
platforms that store core corporate data.

In addition, new, unfamiliar security threats loom. For
a growing
concern is that Chinese apps, which are growing more popular around the
world, could have embedded data collection functions or other threats.11
A significant focus has been video-sharing app TikTok, owned by Chinese
company ByteDance. Chinese companies must share data with their
government upon request, so US officials worry that the apps could be
used to spread propaganda or spy on US citizens and business.12 These
worries increased in early 2020 when a security flaw was discovered in
TikTok, letting hackers manipulate content and access user data.13

legitimate apps like TikTok can have vulnerabilities that are exploited
by hackers, there are also many apps that, although superficially
providing a useful function, were created to steal data or perform
other illicit tasks. Such apps are sometimes even distributed through
popular app stores.14 One response to the inability of
public app marketplaces to more reliably vet products is the emergence
of enterprise app stores.

An enterprise app store is run by
a single company or government agency, only for the benefit of its
users. Employees shop directly through this private store, selecting
software only from a list of apps approved by their organization. This
approach to app delivery is likely to become more common, at least for
large enterprises.15 There are products available to help
build an enterprise app store, but a significant amount of effort is
required to build and manage a enterprise store.16


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The overall market for mobile apps – enterprise and consumer – is
forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 18 percent through 2023.17 But a notable wrinkle in the story of the growth of
apps is that in the first quarter of 2019,
the number of downloads in Apple’s store declined for the first time
since this statistic was available.18 This is partly because Apple removed some old apps from its
store as a quality control measure. Also, Apple’s store is largely
focused on consumer and general business offerings rather than
enterprise apps. However, it is notable that the forward momentum of
the app market may not be endless or uninterruptable. The enterprise
app market might therefore take some unexpected detours or backward
steps, even if the overall trend is growth.

in Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is suited to the field
because “enterprise
aim to achieve very specific results and are targeted at specific
audiences,” says technology writer Rahul Sharma.19
This is a
situation in which AI can crunch data and enhance apps to meet specific
purposes and to meet the needs of specific user profiles.

A study by IDC predicted that in 2021,
three-quarters of
enterprise software would use AI.20 But
the term “AI” encompasses many different technologies, from simple to
sophisticated, and many of these functions have yet to be fully
developed. It is therefore hard to predict what the specific impact of
AI might be on enterprise apps, and it is even harder for users or
developers to plan their own activities around a future whose shape can
only be dimly discerned.


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Keep Track of Apps Installed and In Use

A persistent problem with apps – in terms of
IT oversight – is that they can be installed easily, often without an
IT staff’s knowledge. Apps are sometimes used only once, so that people
may forget they are installed.21 “There’s
no escaping the fact that updating, monitoring,
and maintaining legacy apps takes time, and, much like a sink full of
dishes or a pile of dirty laundry, these tasks only become more
time-consuming the longer they are put off,” writes Tim Buntel of
security company Threat Stack.22 Buntel is
specifically talking about
corporate development teams overseeing their own in-house software, but
his advice applies to organizations using third-party apps as well. He
recommends keeping an inventory of applications, which, although “an
arduous task,” is “worth it.” Organizations can use the inventory to
routinely analyze their applications to determine which should be
removed from use.

Integrate Policies for Enterprise Apps
and Other Software

organizations already have policies in
place for securing,
configuring, monitoring, and updating traditional software, from
large-scale platforms like email systems to desktop productivity tools.
And many have policies for consumer-grade and business mobile apps.
Likewise, managing enterprise apps requires well-considered policies,
and existing approaches to management provide a good start in
developing them. For example, organizations can start with their
policies for purchasing software or for responding to suspected
breaches, and then adapt them to enterprise apps.


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1 Adrian
Bridgwater. “What Makes An App An ‘Enterprise’ Application?”
March 2, 2019.


Nick Statt. “How Apple’s Enterprise App Program
Became the New Wild West of Mobile Apps.” The Verge.
20, 2019.

This list was compiled in part with reference to
the following:

Molly Walsh. “Six Enterprise
App Marketplaces: A
Comparison.” CodeScience.
June 19, 2017.

5 "ServiceNow Store. Intelligent Apps World." ServiceNow.

6 Stephanie
Condon. “Honeywell Launches Marketplace for Enterprise Apps.” ZDNet.
March 5,

7 Jonny Evans. “Apple Is the
Future of Enterprise
Salesforce Deal Confirms.” ComputerWorld.
September 25,

8 Jonny Evans. “Salesforce Announces New iOS Enterprise Apps.” ComputerWorld. November 18, 2019.

9 “How Your
Enterprise Applications Could be Putting Your Company at Risk.” Trend Micro. January 30, 2018.

10 Mauricio
Prinzlau. “6 Security Risks of Enterprises Using Cloud Storage and File
Sharing Apps.” Digital
. January 3, 2019.

Nick Frisch. “We Should Worry About How China Uses Apps Like TikTok.”
The New York Times.
May 2, 2019.

 12 Ludovic Rembert. “Is TikTok a Cybersecurity Threat?” Infosecurity Magazine.

13 Arjun Kharpal. “A Security Flaw in China’s TikTok App Was Found. It Lets Hackers Use Text Messages to Control Accounts.” CNBC. January 9, 2020.

14 Nick Statt. “How Apple’s Enterprise App Program Became the New Wild West of Mobile Apps.” The Verge. February 20, 2019.

15 Jonny Evans. “Soon Every Enterprise Will Need its Own App Store.” ComputerWorld. December 2, 2019.

16 Sue Marquette Poremba. “Why and How to Build an Enterprise App Store.” IT Business Edge.

17 “Global Mobile Apps Market 2019-2023.” Technavio. December 11, 2019.

Orr. “App Store Q1 2019
Shows Downloads Fell for First Time Since 2015.” The Mac

April 4, 2019.

19 Rahul
Sharma. “Enterprise Apps Development: Key Trends Tech Leaders
Need to Know.” TechGenix.
September 21, 2018.

20 Nicholas
Fearn. “How Edge AI Represents the Next Major Opportunity for
Enterprise.” IDG.
April 23, 2019.

21 Sarah
Perez. “Nearly 1 in 4 People Abandon Mobile Apps After Only One Use.” TechCrunch.
May 31, 2016.

22 Tim Buntel. “Legacy Apps: The
Security Risk Lurking in Dusty Corners.”
Dark Reading.
April 17, 2019.

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BlackBerry Marketplace:
Honeywell Marketplace:
Marketo Launchpoint:
Microsoft AppSource:
Salesforce Appexchange:
ServiceNow Store:!/store/home
App Marketplace

About the Author

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Geoff Keston is the author of
more than 250 articles that help organizations find opportunities in
business trends and technology. He also works directly with clients to
develop communications strategies that improve processes and customer
relationships. Mr. Keston has worked as a project manager for a major
technology consulting and services company and is a Microsoft Certified
Systems Engineer and a Certified Novell Administrator.

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