17 May 2013

B2B Appstore

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Blackberry and Amazon are leading the race to build app distribution platforms for smart phones and tablets. In recently concluded WWDC Apple announced distribution of $10 Billion to developers since the inception of their AppStore. In other words, app economy is real and the good news is its just getting started. Most of the big players have thus far focused only on direct consumers leaving much wanted in the enterprise space. In essence, most of these commercial app distribution platforms are business to consumers (B2C) platforms.

Enterprises, on the other hand, are trying to build their own MDM solutions that address enterprise security needs to some extent but lack sophistication and scale of commercial app stores run by smart phone manufacturers. Given that mobility is going to be major enterprise trend, I think there is an open white space to develop a cloud based integrated Business to Business (B2B) app store

A B2B enterprise app store of future needs following functionalities :-

  1. Ability to provision (productivity) apps from B2C app distribution platforms run by Apple, Google and Microsoft etc. The idea is if a company purchases say a productivity app, users with in the company should be able to download it form single place.
  2. Ability to host in-house apps developed by a company.
  3. Ability to host apps provided by enterprise software partners such as SAP, Oracle etc.
  4. Ability to authenticate, push and remove apps from corporate devices.
  5. Support workflow and approval process enabling users to request for a specific app.
  6. Software license management
  7. Traffic encryption and VPN support.
  8. Enterprise branding
  9. Usage Analytics
  10. Ability to pay to Apple, Google or Microsoft etc for the apps consumed from their platforms.
  11. Ability to pay to corporate developers based to per use basis, including slab rates and volume discounts.
  12. Ability to pay to enterprise software partners as per negotiated licensing agreements.
  13. Integration with corporate financial system for Accounts Payables.
  14. Integration with corporate LDAP for user authentication.
  15. Over the air updates and update notifications.

Given that Apple, Google and Microsoft have huge cloud footprint and have already existing B2C app distribution platforms, its very easy for them to build this B2B platform, however, the challenge is if they will support applications from the competitors. Or allow company specific appstore on their devices? SAP has a major play in enterprise mobility with Sybase Unwired Platform, Afaria and Cyclo. SAP can also very easily integrate this with back end financial systems given their huge presence in ERP space and they can build a high performance application of cloud scale using their HANA platform.

Update Jan, 2017

There are number of offerings in MAM and MDM space that partially meet above specs. Leading players are Cirix (XEN Mobile), VMWare (Airwatch), MobileIron, Good Technology, MaaS360 and Apperian.

Most of the enterprise software companies are have built AppStores around their core applications. For example Salesforce wants developers to deploy applications on force.com that integrate with Salesforec; SAP wants apps for there new Hana/SAP Cloud Platforms with ‘Cloud Connector’ opening the access to on prim ERP systems. Google has a app development program for Google Apps. Mobility is just one piece of this strategy. Primary objective is to lure developers as well as increase the stickiness of their core applications…