eBook: 10 Steps for Building a Successful Enterprise App Store
10 Steps for Building a
Enterprise App Store
Setting the Stage
Enterprises have spent the last few years learning that
the consumerization of IT is a powerful market force
that has left employees bringing their favorite mobile
devices and apps to the office, regardless of corporate
policies. Rather than wage a futile battle against the
bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and bring-your-own-
app (BYOA) movements, tech-savvy companies are
accommodating their employees’ embrace of the
cloud and allowing them to use their preferred
devices. At the same time, these same companies have
now realized that deploying a branded, business app
store can also serve the cloud computing needs of
their external business customers.
Internally, many enterprises have established approved
lists of mobile devices and apps for their employees.
Others are implementing network access policies that
allow their employees to use their chosen devices at
work, while clamping down on related IT security risks.
Enterprises have spent the
last few years learning that
the consumerization of IT is
a powerful market force
that has left employees
bringing their favorite
mobile devices and apps to
The most progressive enterprises have even built app stores that allow
employees to shop for company-approved apps, while concurrently deploying
external-facing stores to deliver business apps to their customers, who want to
obtain their cloud computing resources from a trusted advisor.
In this environment, specialized app store providers have experienced a strong
uptick in the amount of inquiries related to the enterprise app stores that they
build. Leading financial institutions, tech companies, retailers, business
associations and other global brands are increasingly looking outside of their
walls to the experts to create highly-engaging, branded app stores for their
internal employee populations or external business audiences (or both). Analysts
and enterprises continuously approach specialized app store builders with the
question: “How do you build an engaging enterprise app store?”
Before we address this question, let’s take a step back
and recognize that the growing number of enterprise app
stores should come as no surprise. After all, a recent
Gartner report found that one in four (or 25% of)
enterprises will create their own app stores by 2017.
Forrester echoed this forecast, noting that they envision
enterprise app stores moving beyond just the distribution
of corporate-approved apps to providing content sharing,
analytics reporting and monitoring services.
have their own
It’s unquestionable that the recent surge in enterprise app
stores is inextricably linked to the increased adoption of
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and the use of mobile devices.
As company BYOD policies gain traction, employees are
increasingly able to access business software through
public app stores, such as Apple’s App Store and Google
Play, creating potential challenges for IT personnel.
In order to manage the security risks related to this
scenario, IT leaders are calling upon senior management to
give them more control over the apps that employees use.
Having a branded, internal enterprise app store not only offers companies greater
IT control, in terms of peace of mind over the apps that employees bring in from
the outside, but there are also significant cost benefits. Enterprises that build an
internal app store can negotiate a better price for a bundle of software licenses (a
benefit that only increases with the size of a company).
Similarly, when an enterprise deploys an external-facing app store to serve the
cloud computing needs of its external business customers, it becomes their
audience’s go-to resource for all of the business apps that the cloud has to offer.
This puts an enterprise in the enviable position of being able to increase customer
engagement, reduce churn, win new customers, and gain greater customer
The Evolution of the Modern
Enterprise App Store
Today, most enterprises have already moved beyond the
traditional realm of mobile device management (MDM).
They’ve realized that device management efforts alone
do not produce the core benefit of the consumerization
of IT—making users more productive than ever.
Instead, leaders at these enterprises have recognized
that both their colleagues and customers want to access
their business software in the same way they access
their personal software and social accounts—anytime,
anywhere, and from any internet-enabled device.
Their realization comes at a pivotal time during the
evolution of the enterprise app store, as senior
executives further recognize that an app store can be
deployed for both internal employee populations and
external business customers. Several years ago, an
enterprise app store was only thought of as a tool to
serve the internal computing needs of the enterprise—
greater IT security and control, reduced software costs
and the empowerment of its mobile workforce.
An app store can be
1. internal employee
2. external business
- UBM Tech
Today, enterprises recognize that branded app stores can not only strengthen
internal IT security, but when deployed externally, they offer an array of potential
benefits to their external business customers:
Externally-Deployed Enterprise App Store Benefits:
win new customers
increase engagement and reduce churn
gain new customer insights / analytics
become a trusted cloud computing advisor
Internally-Deployed Enterprise App Store Benefits:
strengthen IT security and control
reduce overall business software costs
increase employee productivity
empower the mobile workforce
For example, consider a global bank, such as Bank of
America or Barclays, which may be planning to deploy
an enterprise app store. The bank may decide to build
an app store just for its internal employee population,
chock-full of both its proprietary apps and publicly-used
applications. However, the same bank could also deploy
an outward, client-facing app store to serve the business
software needs of its small to medium-sized (SMB) retail
By deploying an enterprise app store for its SMB
customers, the bank has positioned itself as a trusted,
tech-savvy leader that is able to aggregate and deliver
the business software that its customers need. The app
store will differentiate the bank from the competition,
while serving as a beacon to guide SMBs to the cloud-
based tools they need to succeed.
"This App Store … help(s)
customers improve and
more easily manage
finances, and ultimately
boost top and bottom-
- Chris Davies
Global Payments UK
10 Steps for Building a Successful
Enterprise App Store
Know Your Audience
Before you start building an app store, make sure that
you listen to the needs of your audience(s)—both your
internal employee population and your external
business customers (that may also use your app store).
When deploying an internal-facing app store, research
firm Forrester has advised chief information officers at
enterprises to “build a very deep marketing
understanding of who your employees are and what
they use technology for” before prioritizing their device
and application investments. Key stakeholders in the
construction of your store will likely have different
priorities. Whereas, a member of the executive
management team may be focused on reducing overall
software costs, IT leaders at your company will be
primarily concerned with maintaining control over the
apps that employees use and related network security
“ . . . build a very
understanding of who
your employees are
and what they use
technology for . . .”
“Apps downloaded from public app stores for mobile devices disrupt IT security,
application and procurement strategies,” noted Ian Finley, research vice president at
Gartner. “Bring-your-own-application (BYOA) has become as important as bring-
your-own-device (BYOD) in the development of a comprehensive mobile strategy,
and the trend toward BYOA has begun to affect desktop and web applications as
Similarly, if building an app store to serve external business customers, the audience
segments of the app store must be clearly defined prior to development, together
with their anticipated cloud computing needs and store use workflows.
- Ian Finley, Gartner
For external, customer-facing app stores, the same holds true—enterprises
should have a firm understanding of their customers’ business challenges and
what apps will help them overcome these challenges; particularly, enterprises
that serve small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Cloud-based apps have
fundamentally reshaped how many SMBs run their businesses and the results
they are able to achieve. Spawned by an increased demand by emerging
businesses for flexibility, predictable costs and outsourced solutions for their
computing needs, SMBs have been one of the largest segments to adopt SaaS
technology, and enterprises are now in a unique position to become their go-to
source for the cloud-based apps they need.
Build a Store That Serves the Full Spectrum of Computing Devices
Your app store should feature platform-agnostic apps that can be accessed anytime,
anywhere and via a user’s device-of-choice. Unlike some app stores where the
application is installed on a device and restricted to that device, your store, and the
apps found therein, should be accessible via any internet-enabled device.
If your end users prefer to use apps on an iPad or tablet, versus their office desktop,
then you need to ensure that they’ll be able to use your store’s suite of applications
in an easy to consume format, regardless of their device preference. Why? With the
BYOD movement, not only is the user bringing his or her device to the office, they
also bring a level of expectation from their consumer app store experiences. It is
therefore imperative in executing your enterprise app store strategy that your
“private” app store delivers an ease-of-use experience that is as appealing as its
Create a Compelling Application Catalog
in Your Store
One of the most challenging and strategic steps in
building a store is selecting the applications to feature.
Ultimately, the success of your store will depend on the
quality of the applications that you select and the
store’s endorsement that these apps are appropriate
for the end users.
If there is not a large enough choice of first-class
applications in your store, this will be an inhibitor to
your app store’s success and employee users may revert
back to public app stores for certain software. This
could compromise the presumed security benefits of an
enterprise app store. “The implementation of an
enterprise app store should be seen as a component of
an organization’s application strategy, rather than
infrastructure strategy,” noted Brian Prentice, research
vice president at Gartner. “The primary determinant of
success is app supply.”
success is app supply.”
Determine Who Can Access Your Store and How
Subscription Management Will Work
Determining who can access your store is important because it defines control and
access to the applications and data found in your store. A strong access management
service should automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of users and their
associated roles, as a natural extension of your company’s existing process.
Users should be able to invite their colleagues to use an application with just the click
of a button. The leaders at the app store’s helm should be able to segment users’
roles and restrict access to applications by role or by group, as necessary. For
example, in an enterprise app store designed to serve an employee population, the
store may have different permission settings for the following employee groups:
Sales and marketing professionals
Finance and accounting professionals
Field engineers and remote workers
Of course, each enterprise will have to discern how best
to segment user roles, permission settings, and the apps
available to each group of users.
Sound subscription management is just as important as
access management. Subscription management refers to
the potentially complex relationships between users,
service levels, free trial periods, pricing structures and
much more. Managing subscriptions involves a lot of
behind-the-scenes logistics, such as provisioning the
applications that a user group is allowed to use.
Your system must further feed data to the access
management and billing systems to ensure that users
have access to the appropriate apps. In public app store
settings, users have come to expect full visibility of their
app subscriptions and the opportunity to manage and
upgrade their subscriptions through a self-service portal.
They will expect the same ease-of-use experience in
your private app store.
management is just
as important as
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Users of multiple applications will benefit from Single Sign-On (SSO) because it
reduces the time they spend re-entering passwords for the same identity and it helps
enterprises because it reduces phishing success and password fatigue from different
user name and password combinations. Not having to remember multiple login-IDs or
passwords adds tremendous value to end-user experiences.
By providing SSO through a platform, enterprises can enhance IT security by keeping
users in a secure computing environment when they access their apps. SaaS app
providers, such as PingOne, Okta and OneLogin, each offer their own SSO platform. An
SSO approach not only yields more IT security and control, but it offers a forum to
market other apps and add-on services; thus, ensuring that your audience relies on
you more for value added services, rather than searching for such services outside of
Remember that Content is Still King
Just as engaging content catapulted the adoption of public app stores, sticky content
will once again reign supreme in private app stores, as it fosters the adoption of more
The very best enterprise app stores not only offer best-in-class business applications,
but they also offer industry-tailored tutorial content—in the form of informative videos,
white papers, articles, etc.—that help users overcome their business challenges.
Deliver an Impactful User Experience
Now that you’ve screened, selected, and qualified the
apps that you’ll feature in your store, you also have to
assemble all of the different aspects of your marketplace
into a seamless user experience. This includes recognizing
the usage patterns of users and being able to recommend
groupings or bundles of apps that are appropriate for
certain verticals and audience segments.
If users experience hardship or bugs in your store, the
store must be able to be updated quickly and appropriate
operational support channels should be established in
advance to ensure that store corrections are made with
deliberate speed. Just because your store features great
business applications does not mean that users won’t
abandon the store if the delivery of apps is cumbersome
and they have poor user experiences.
Assemble all of the
different aspects of
into a seamless user
Make Your App Store Secure
Yes, it’s true—there are still some people that hesitate
to use cloud-based apps and one of their primary
concerns focuses on data security. In particular, some
SMBs remain nervous about downloading applications
from “the cloud.” Since data that is stored in the cloud
can be sensitive, your app store should tackle this
issue head on to ensure that data in your store is not
hacked or compromised.
Addressing the security issue yourself can prove to be a very taxing technical
endeavor. Historically, user names and passwords have been stored within the app
store, which makes them a target for phishing attacks and security breaches. Your
store should be able to control access to specific apps through an intuitive interface,
without storing application-level passwords.
In the event that data is lost or compromised, you should have already determined
who absorbs the liability. Often, app providers will want to absolve themselves
from any liability, even if the data intrusion occurred on their end. Your store
should stipulate the conditions under which an app provider may be found liable;
particularly when dealing with sensitive medical records or payment transaction
Putting the ‘Service’ Back in SaaS
All too often enterprises, app store builders, and app providers alike forget about the
“service” element in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) equation. Naturally, it’s easy to
get caught up in the software side of things; however, an enterprise app store will
never be very successful if it’s not founded on a commitment to providing first-class
Providing support for an app store is not something that
most enterprises will know how to do. It can also be a
distraction from their core business operations. A solid
app store provider will not only support you, but your
audience as well. The app store creator needs to
facilitate quick responses to user inquiries, security
concerns, and other issues.
The way in which a company provides “service” will
become a key factor in the success of their store. FAQ
guides and tutorial videos can be helpful, but nothing is
more important to end users than knowing how to
master their favorite apps in the context of their regular
use. App stores that provide helpful and transparent
support will be successful, as exceptional user support
keeps people coming back for more.
The way in which a
“service” will become
a key factor in the
success of their store.
Marketing Your Store and Post-Deployment Engagement
Remember, even if you stock your app store full of best-in-class business software,
you must still evangelize the store’s benefits and how it will make users’ lives easier.
Do not hesitate to tout the ease of configuration, integration of apps that are offered,
and the breadth of applications available in your store.
Post-deployment, your store should not only introduce new apps that become
available, but it should also regularly introduce fresh, industry-tailored content to
help users overcome their business challenges. The very best enterprise app stores
offer mentoring tools for application best practices and informative resources to help
users leverage all of the opportunities that await them in the cloud. Your team should
develop a process to continually update the store with impactful collateral, new app
announcements, videos, thought leadership articles and more. The continuous
introduction of fresh, impactful content will become a recipe for enduring app
Putting it All Together
The Rise of Marketplace-as-a-Service (MaaS) Companies
Thankfully, Marketplace-as-a-Service (MaaS) companies, such as SaaS Markets, have
evolved over the past few years to build, brand and launch enterprise app stores.
Large companies, in particular, are increasingly looking outside of their walls to build
app stores, as they realize that specialized MaaS companies are best suited to deploy
By leveraging an app marketplace, the employees and/or
customers of an enterprise can now find a single, trusted
source for all of their business software, while the store
becomes a beacon to guide them to the cloud-based
tools they need. The very best of these app stores will
lend clarity, guidance, and structure to what sometimes
can be described as a confusing cloud computing world.
Gartner’s conclusion that the number of enterprise app stores will dramatically
increase in the coming years is anything but a surprise. Ideas that make good business
sense tend to do well.
The surge in the construction of enterprise app stores seems so natural because their
efficacy is unquestionable. They give enterprises control over the applications that
their employees use, while more fully enfranchising their computing needs and
desires—ultimately, they deliver the cloud-based tools that employees and customers
need to be successful in their roles.
The pressure points in building an enterprise app store include the wide variety of
devices and operating systems in the cloud ecosystem, and the need for best-in-class
apps to be both effective and compliant when used.
Enterprises should think about application use management as an overall strategy to
maximize the value of their software assets across the full spectrum of their business.
Executives and IT departments alike have been forced to confront this issue, and
they’re quickly discovering the virtues of creating private app stores for their
The SaaS Markets Approach
The SaaS Markets Approach
SaaS Markets—the enterprise app store company—provides the industry’s most
advanced Marketplace-as-a-Service (MaaS) enterprise solutions.
Today, enterprises are mindful of the increasing role that private app stores will play
in computing, and these larger companies are calling upon SaaS Markets to build
their fully-branded stores. SaaS Markets’ enterprise solutions allow companies to
deploy their app stores quickly, while avoiding the cost of additional IT personnel
and the large, up-front investment risk that such an internal endeavor would entail.
Drawing on their deep knowledge of SaaS and their extensive relationships with app
providers, SaaS Markets’ team deploys app stores in a matter of weeks, not months.
Through SaaS Markets’ MarketMaker platform, businesses and associations can take
advantage of the state-of-the-art functionality that an enterprise app store needs to
be successful. These features are complemented by a stringent, four-step screening
process that ensures that all of the apps featured in a store have undergone back-
end testing to accommodate complex usage scenarios.
In addition, the MarketMaker platform offers flexible deployment options that are
ideal for companies of any size, and all SaaS Markets-powered stores are customized
to extend the look-and-feel of a client’s brand.
Before an enterprise app store is deployed, it can be stocked with a company’s
proprietary apps, as well as those apps found in SaaS Markets’ catalog of over 1,500+
pre-qualified apps. This gives companies an opportunity to build their app stores
quickly and cost-effectively, while concurrently giving app providers an opportunity
to reach thousands of people with their apps.
About SaaS Markets
SaaS Markets (based in San Mateo, CA) is THE enterprise app store company, powering
the largest global network of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business app stores. Through
relationships with major financial institutions, technology companies, small business
associations, and leading brands, SaaS Markets is bringing SaaS applications to millions
of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world. SaaS Markets offers
companies a user-friendly portal that makes it easy to choose the cloud-based tool that
is right for their business needs.
Follow us on Twitter: @saasmarkets
Learn more at: www.SaaSMarkets.com, or call 650.458.0748.
Jay Manciocchi, JD is the Director of Content at SaaS Markets, and a
contributor for CBS Corp.’s ZDNet and UBM Tech’s SaaS in the
Enterprise. Prior to SaaS Markets, Jay worked in a leadership role at
the nation's largest content marketing agency.
Follow him on Twitter: @JayManSanFran
About the Author: Jay Manciocchi