In the instant gratification society of today where I need this now or yesterday organizations will increase their IT failure exponentially. The rise of cloud and SaaS based services along with additional media hype is fuelling all kinds of ideas to form another type of tech bubble. Similar to that of consumer driven models such as the App stores from Apple, the Android marketplace and many others are leading people to think I should open an App Store for enterprise software. What I am referring here to is an Enterprise Software App Store that features many types of enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM, Social Media, PLM, vertical specific applications, Supply Chain solutions etc. that exist in one place with no comparison or reviews just a listing with apps and a “Buy Now” button. A further point of clarification, is that this not referring to private IT App Stores that are built internally by the organization. Internal App Stores that companies build would have had all integrations tested, strict version control implemented thereby reducing IT administration. An internal IT App Store can simplify tech support by regulating version control and allowing employees to build their own technology stack and applications from corporate approved standards.
There are several reasons why this a bad idea. IT failure was estimated at over $6.2 trillion dollars last year, meaning companies are not selecting the correct systems and are overlooking the factors that lead to IT failure. Many organizations do not have a structured documented software evaluation method that minimizes risk now. What makes them think by selecting a checklist of applications would make it easier to succeed in enterprise software ? Strictly from a risk standpoint it introduces more exposure for the organization to hacking (an additional point of entry into the organization) and the issues from past IT failures still exist – not solving the root cause of why the IT project failed the first time.The concept of App Stores for enterprise software is that you can select the enterprise software you require, try it out and then sign up. It is still a project that an organization needs to commit to and complete the entire project lifecycle for. What if employees can access a vendors App Store and install uncertified applications into production which can easily corrupt data without IT knowledge.
The vendors that have enterprise software App Stores should hopefully have certified each application to integrate seamlessly into the original application and should be an extension of the original application. If support issues do arise who do you contact for technical support, is there a guarantee of a fix, how will this affect your service level agreement (SLA) for downtime and supplier performance, what additional security and IT administration must be set up within the company, who does the testing, are employees allowed to try it out on their own, is there a sandbox environment to install these new apps in, have old project issues been solved to address IT failure, will the new app support a distributed workforce, will it fit your company strategically, is the vendor viable, how easy it to use, will it require a full change management procedure for adoption, will it require executive buy-in, do existing budget constraints still have to go through project approval process, do you still have to make a valid business case to adopt the new application are some of the questions that still exist for an enterprise App Store. Clearly the enterprise App Store raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps the only thing this does is make it easier to contact the vendor of that solution.
As outlined, many of the same project issues still exist. Many other software evaluation issues of an enterprise software selection process must also apply to this endeavour as well. Other than a vendor certifying partner solutions the only real upside is the identification of vendors and complementary solutions that are capable of working with your base solution. These vendors will still offer their same testing periods, as normal but will they open up a limited version for testing, will the new app have full functionality so that integration and other relational issues may be solved, who does the tech support when testing a new app to get it to work with base application – maybe something vendors may have overlooked.
An exception to the Enterprise Software App Store may be the platform and infrastructure as a service (IaaS, PaaS). Where the platform is the store and third party applications share an open API for easy integration. This model has been successful for Salesforce.com (SFDC) with the Force Platform App Marketplace. A model of that nature makes more sense. As the cloud and SaaS market evolves we will see if this just a passing fad or a valid idea with a real business model and moneymaking ability.
Eval-Source is an Analyst/Consulting consulting firm that offers enterprise software evaluation, cloud computing consulting, business process optimization and technology planning for organizations. Our innovative professional services make your life easier whether it is to acquire enterprise software or provide you with fact – based information to match your business with IT. Eval-Source provides critical decision support to validate your technology investments using the Tru-Eval system. Follow our blog at www.eval-source.com/blog or on twitter @eval_source or our site http://www.eval-source.com.