The current adoption rate for corporate app stores among manufacturers is less than 20 percent – for now.

That will change soon, a recent analysis suggests.

In fact, nearly 80 percent of manufacturers are planning to develop mobile applications by year’s end, a new report by IDC Manufacturing Insights says.

The report, titled Business Strategy: Looking Forward to the Corporate Application Store, covers the rising trend of using a corporate app store to manage the proliferation of mobile applications across various manufacturing organizations.

It also highlights how more and more corporate apps stores will be rolling out in the months ahead.

Heather Ashton, research manager for IDC Manufacturing Insights, says the trend is shifting into high gear now that industrialists see how the ever-increasing functionality of mobile strategies builds efficiency and elevates productivity.

“The rise of the corporate app store is an emerging trend in manufacturing, and we believe it will continue to become an appropriate construct for managing the proliferation of mobile apps inside the corporation,” Ashton says. “Manufacturers need to evaluate their current mobility maturity and understand when and how a corporate app store can effectively facilitate the spread of mobile apps throughout their organization.”

Ashton tells Leo Rommel of Industry Today that the IDC expects to see an increase in corporate app stores within the next two years as manufacturers accelerate the delivery and quantity of the mobile applications they provide to employees and explore ways of effectively and securely managing related processes.

“It’s really going to come to a head pretty quickly over the next 18 to 24 months,” she says. “The adoption rate is still low, but major manufacturers in several segments are at the leading edge of the movement, where they have fully deployed corporate app stores.”

Ashton says the report, in addition to highlighting the booming trend, also underlines how the rise of mobile apps poses a number of challenges for managing them in the context of the IT environment.

Exactly how do IT organizations create, deploy, and manage mobile apps throughout a company? In addition, when does it make sense to funnel mobile app delivery through a corporate app store?

Ideally, Ashton says, corporate app stores should be independent of device and application source, sanctioned, and meet governance and security requirements of the corporation.

And as part of their corporate application store, Ashton says manufacturers should consider design, development, deployment, and management decisions around the store in the context of how their key IT suppliers will support construction.

“From a resource constraint, trying to understand and decide what platform you need to support is an important challenge,” Ashton explains. “Security is a major issue obviously, as is having the appropriate management in place.”

She adds, “Also, an important area is understanding where mobile fits into traditional apps, and does it make sense to actually meld the two, creating a corporate app store that is independent of form factor, whether you’re making the app for a desktop or for a mobile device. What makes the most sense?”

The decision to open a corporate app store, she says, must factor in employees’ willingness to use the app store. Likewise, supplying current, relevant mobile apps will be a must-do.

In addition, Ashton says that the ability to support rapid mobile application development with “patterns of applications” will influence how successful the app store will be.

Taking these steps will ensure that mobility is leveraged fully across the organization and important conversations with key IT suppliers start happening now.

In all this rests an opportunity in mobile application development for streamlining the process of bringing mobile apps to the corporate app store, the analysis suggests.

Known as patterns of applications, the concept is an adaptation of rapid prototyping and agile development applied to business processes.

Essentially, there is a set of core patterns of applications that underlie the majority of business processes and provide an excellent starting point for developing mobile apps.

The goal is for mobile enterprise application platform vendors (MEAP) to provide these patterns of applications for easy consumption by in-house development teams, who can then customize these applications to reflect the specific business process the enterprise wants to mobile enable.

The aforementioned report offers an example of some of the patterns of applications that exist in manufacturing and their relative business benefits.

Analysts also believes that manufacturers that choose to populate their own corporate app stores should consider methods like patterns of applications to ease the burden of developing mobile apps as the demand for mobile apps grows across the organization.

IDC, for instance, is starting to see signs of MEAP vendors heading down this path, providing manufacturers with the building blocks to more quickly design, develop, and deploy mobile applications.

“It’s basically taking building blocks for business process, at the business process level, and coding them in such a way that you can easily then apply it to multiple different apps,” Ashton says. “We foresee a time in the future where, again, a company could have hundreds of apps, and being able to create some of these patterns of applications is important, so that it’s much easier from a mobile development perspective and development to more quickly create apps.”

About IDC Manufacturing Insights
IDC Manufacturing Insights assists manufacturing businesses and IT leaders, as well as the suppliers who serve them in making more effective technology decisions by providing accurate, timely, and insightful fact-based research and consulting services. Staffed by senior analysts with decades of industry experience, its global research analyzes and advises on business and technology issues facing asset intensive, brand oriented, technology oriented, and engineering oriented manufacturing industries.


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