Enterprise app stores (EAS) help company employees create their own technology tools and increase staff engagement in IT. This was the conclusion of a panel of CTOs at enterprise technology trade show IP Expo yesterday.
Avanade UK, a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, set up such a store for a major oil company.
Mark Corley, CTO at Avanade explained that one of the secrets to using app stores effectively is to ensure that controls are in place to ensure that users don't waste time reinventing technology that already exists.
"We created an EAS through Microsoft Sharepoint. It allows someone on an oil rig, for example, to create a business-relevant app. We ensure that users have to search for something that at least looks like what they need first. Only when they can't find anything similar are they allowed access to the creation tools."
The search terms generated by users in this process are collected and reused as metadata for the tool that is being created, which further improves the development process.
The end result is that users are more empowered to provision services for themselves and are more likely to get the tools they want.
"Users feel they are empowered to share and create tools without getting IT involved, or making a request into a process which takes six months and doesn't necessarily deliver the right result."
There are further benefits in that sharing the development and subsequent use of these tools creates communities of employees with similar problems.
"People on oil rigs on one side of the world have something in common with people on rigs on the other side. They now have a reason to share and learn from one another."
David King, CTO at technology services company Logica, recommended that firms make more services available via an EAS because it enables more effective change management.
"Using an EAS gets change taken up much faster as it empowers people to do it for themselves," he said.
Puni Rajah, research director at The Governance Board summed up IT's role in relation to EASs: "IT becomes a super portfolio manager. You manage the apps, the users will take care of the rest."