One big-name company making the plunge is Accenture . The global consultancy, and Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) founding board member, is piloting its own mobile app store for its over 200,000 employees.
Andy Zimmerman, Accenture's global managing director of mobility services, has seen demand for an internal app store grow in the past three to four months. Employees are looking for a central location to access apps, both those that are extensions of existing internal apps and third-party apps that Accenture wants its employees to use, he says. So far, Accenture's App Catalog, as it's called, has 11 apps and 50 people trialing it.
"The consumer app store will be the paradigm, and [employees] will be looking for that from their company," Zimmerman says. Accenture plans to roll its pilot out to all employees this spring.
Why this matters
Accenture is a unique case in that it's a huge company with a very mobile workforce of consultants and a strong mobile practice of its own. It even powers app stores for wireless operators like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) in India, so it has more experience than most.
Even so, the enterprise is becoming a focus for companies of all sizes. It's also the next target for established app stores as the consumer business grows increasingly saturated with 300,000-plus apps and 25-plus stores from which to get them.
It's still early days, but a number of software companies are starting to offer enterprise app capabilities. For example, Zenprise Inc. recently introduced an Android Enterprise App Store in which companies can push relevant apps to the smartphones and tablets they supply and even segment which departments get certain apps.
The job of supporting enterprise app stores like these will fall to each company's CIO and IT department, which are already responsible for supporting an increasingly diverse and complex portfolio of smartphones.
As such, there may be a role for wireless operators in building and managing enterprise apps as well. Both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless have a foot in the door by working with Accenture to manage SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP) apps for their enterprise customers, but that's just the tip of the iceberg for enterprise apps. (See Startup Sees Enterprise Apps as Telco Opportunity.)
For more on mobility in the enterprise, check out the following stories:
- AT&T: Mobility Key to Retaining Small Biz
- CTIA 2010: Samsung's Mobile Enterprise Ambitions
- IBM Says It Can Give Mobile Biz a Boost
- AT&T: Mobility, Network Capacity & Fun
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile