What do you do when there's no app for that?

As of June 2012, there were 237,000 iPad apps listed in the App store, many of them priced at 99 cents or even free. Yet very few of them let companies actually do business -- take customer orders, update inventory, submit pharmacy prescriptions, or manage 401K retirement accounts.

See the other stories in this series, tracking several companies deploying tablets and smartphones:

IT groups reveal their best enterprise tablet tricks

IT groups eschew BYOD, issue company-owned tablets 

In sort, companies are bogging down in a flood of apps they can't use. And the ones they can use from the online app catalogs often lack the technical and customer support that both IT groups, and frontline employees, are used to.

Software vendors that traditionally supply enterprise line of business software for servers and PCs now face a learning curve in adapting these applications, especially their user interfaces, for touch screens. And if corporate IT groups try to build their own apps, they run into the same learning curve. Some companies are reporting unexpected jumps in mobile app development costs, as a result.

Here's what companies are doing:

+ creating new bottom-up app feedback loops, partly to identify, evaluate and spread the word about catalog apps, but also to capture user-driven app ideas.

+ forging new relationships with key software suppliers, to sync enterprise requirements and schedules with those of the vendor; one new option: negotiating for access to the vendor's source code to create custom changes, and speed mobile deployment.

+ reprior

This story, "What do you do when there's no app for that?" was originally published by Network World.

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