Enterprise IT - the App Store model is not enough - Business Works
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Enterprise IT - the App Store model is not enough

by Jeff Fisher, VP Strategy & Co-Head RES Research Boston, RES Software IT complexity continues to grow as new technologies are added to today’s increasingly-diverse corporate computing environment. At the same time, employees want the simplicity of accessing their business and personal information across a myriad of devices – demanding the availability of their corporate email and workplace applications away from the office. Jeff Fisher, VP Strategy and Co-Head of RES Research Boston, discusses some of the challenges.

As users continue to accelerate the trend towards consumerisation, defined as the growing tendency for technology trends and expectations from the consumer market to make their way into business, IT leaders need to implement solutions that address the variety of devices, apps and operating systems that make up the IT infrastructure and meet the 'anytime, anywhere' access capabilities imposed by today’s flexible work styles. This presents IT departments with new challenges in areas such as security and compliance. In turn, this often leads to more time spent on manual processes and higher costs to meet more demanding needs from users.

While IT departments have longed for 'one size fits all' solutions, these realities of corporate IT have resulted in a multitude of technologies, with each new addition breeding further complexity. Organisations are at the point where they desire an efficient, dynamic IT experience that improves IT productivity and keeps users satisfied.

Some have begun to implement an app store model – the corporate equivalent to, say, the Apple app store – within their enterprises to give users an experience similar in quality to that which they enjoy with their personal technology. But they realise rather quickly that simply developing a front-end corporate app store is not enough. Offering applications without other critical IT services that end-users are looking for and that are required to run a business leaves a gap. This means that without underlying technology that can remove the manual tasks associated with delivering these services, IT is missing an opportunity to improve how all IT services are delivered to users.

Moving beyond the traditional App Store: including all IT services

With an array of IT challenges and pain points within companies, IT departments require flexible solutions to be able to run IT more efficiently. It’s not only physical environments that need to be managed, but also virtual and cloud-based environments, together with distributed networks, systems and services, as well as regulatory and security models. The enterprise solutions they choose must work with existing infrastructures and have the capability to simplify and automate IT operations, not add additional complexity.

Today, most enterprise app store solutions only offer apps and provide a user-friendly front-end experience, which still leaves IT with the responsibility of manually delivering requests. IT departments need to address all of their critical functions for users, such as software installs, password changes, new hardware requests, access to specific data, printer access, backing up data, maintaining antivirus solutions, etc. Simply implementing a self-service interface for apps, rather than a holistic solution, ignores many of the factors users require from IT. These solutions do not take into account the need for IT to manage and control all services for users.

For example, the traditional app store model also doesn’t allow IT to track details about how employees are using each app; nor can it set policies and regulations to limit application usage based on an employee's role, location or time. With no way of implementing an approval process, companies are putting themselves at risk of losing thousands of pounds if there are costs associated with a specific application that not everyone should be allowed to use.

Additionally, IT departments must be armed with the ability to remove or return services from devices if an employee changes roles or leaves the organisation. For example, businesses can potentially save enormous sums on just software license costs alone with automated returns, but the typical enterprise app store does not allow for this. Consider when an employee leaves, if their license to use the accountancy software is not 'returned' then the company will continue to pay for that additional, unused, license. Also, if not tracked properly, when the person's replacement arrives a new license may be issued that is not needed.

An automated, context-aware IT Store

IT administrators need to employ an enterprise IT solution that can be tailored specifically to their organisations’ unique needs and enable them to automate a large portion of the predictable IT tasks – such as those mentioned above – that make up approximately 80% of IT services needed by users. Implementing a full-service enterprise IT store, unlike app-store only models, will ensure that users are granted access to all of the basic IT services, not just apps, they need to be productive, instead of requiring them to request even the most fundamental services from their IT departments. It is this automation of IT tasks, with full security and corporate policies applied, that is the key differentiator between a full-service IT store and an enterprise app store.

An effective full-service IT store should take into account both the need to manage and control IT services, as well as the need to support users’ autonomy. It doesn’t improve IT efficiency to simply have an interface creating helpdesk tickets in the back-end because IT will still be required to execute manual tasks. This manual effort on behalf of IT is enormously resource intensive. Despite this, users crave immediate access to IT solutions. By automating the delivery of IT services on the back-end of an enterprise IT store, users can receive the same instant gratification they are accustomed to receiving with their consumer app stores.

Organisations can also better manage use of their technology by enabling users to log into an IT store containing the IT services appropriate for them based on the changing contexts of their roles, specific projects they are involved in, office location, etc. For example, if a visiting doctor needs access to a particular medical application, they can request it from an IT store, and it will be automatically delivered and returned when that doctor is no longer working in that hospital. Another crucial element addressed with a robust IT store solution is the return of IT services. Organisations need to have a vehicle for getting those IT services returned automatically based on events – like an employee leaving, changing roles / departments, projects ending, etc. The automatic return of delivered services when people no longer qualify will increase security and ensure compliance can be met.

The right enterprise IT solution can empower organisations to rethink their entire approach for delivering IT services to users, far beyond the concept of self-service. Eliminating the need for performing manual recurring system administration tasks through the use of automation will free up IT departments to focus on more strategic initiatives that will propel their organisations forward and allow companies to have much more control over how they access technology to effectively manage users.

For more information about RES Software, please visit: www.ressoftware.com/uk

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