Are enterprise app stores the future?

By , CIO |  Consumerization of IT

Case-in-point: Liquid Analytics, a mobile software developer, put its expense and business analytics apps into the SAP Store earlier this year. Pre-integration played a key role; Liquid Analytics crunches data on the back end and serves up information to the iPhone and iPad via native iOS apps.

"The app has to tunnel into the enterprise and get to the business process within SAP where your travel and expense processes are already defined," says Vish Canaran, CTO of Liquid Analytics. "If you buy an app that is disconnected, you'll have to add in middleware with integration points to SAP."

Liquid Analytics also craved access to the SAP Store's many global enterprise customers. A good store also needs many product offerings to entice buyers to come to the store. This is known as liquidity in the parlance of e-markets. The SAP Store's liquidity is already paying off for Liquid Analytics. "We're at 5,000 subscribers and expecting around 10,000 by the end of this year, in terms of sales reps using the app," Canaran says.

Storefront of the SAP enterprise app store

Vendor-hosted enterprise app stores have instant liquidity at the expense of neutrality. That is, some vendors may feel that competitors are getting favorable treatment. Major vendors competing with the store host often won't participate, thus limiting the availability of heterogeneous solutions. Problems with neutrality have led to the demise of many e-markets.

"Oracle has no desire to even put anything or engage with us besides maybe some things on the database side of the house," Maloney says.

That's not to say that there isn't competition in the SAP Store. SAP has solutions in 26 different industries across multiple lines-of-business, such as human resources and finance. Microsoft and IBM have products that compete with SAP on the store. Liquid Analytics apps also compete with other apps. (For his part, Canaran says his company is being treated fairly.)

Whether or not the SAP Store can overcome these challenges remains to be seen. So far, though, the SAP Store is showing signs of success in its first year. The enterprise app store is changing the way enterprise software, especially mobile apps, is being discovered, evaluated, bought, deployed and used.

"In the past, sometimes you wanted a piece of software tomorrow, and it felt like we were not trying to sell it to you because it would take six months," Maloney says. "It can't be that way anymore."


Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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