As mobile computing technology assumes a steadily larger role in modern society, its lingo finds a way into our consciousness, as well. For example, smartphone and tablet owners know what applications are; after all, we come in contact with these handy little programs on an almost daily basis. Types of applications are pretty easy to understand, too, such as games, utility and educational apps. But we've found that when we mention enterprise applications, we're often given a curious look and are asked, “Wait a second. What are those?”
It's not entirely surprising that enterprise apps fly under the radar of a lot of people. The name itself isn't exactly self-evident, and enterprise apps have little to nothing to do with Captain Kirk, Spock or the space shuttle program. Despite the confusion, though, they're easy enough to define. Enterprise apps are created exclusively for business use. Companies have app developers—or people within their own programming departments—make proprietary apps that are tailored to the company's needs and specs. These are then distributed in-house for employees to use in the course of their daily job duties.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that a lot of folks aren't aware of enterprise applications. Since their use is limited to single companies or industries, they're not made for the general public to use, and for the most part they aren't listed in the online apps stores. They're for work use only, and not every company has their own enterprise apps—at least, not yet. That's slowly changing, though many business owners are hesitant to invest the time and money into enterprise apps just now, according to this article by New Relic.
Because enterprise applications aren't listed in the big stores like the Apple Apps Store and Google Play, developers like working on them because they believe they don't have to follow the long list of guidelines that are required for apps to be approved, and they don't have to factor in Apple or Google taking 30% of the app's profits—as is the case with apps that are listed in the apps stores.
Before you go out and dance in the street in celebration, however, we ask you to do two things: first, look both ways for traffic; and second, please read on.
The belief that the app developing guidelines don't have to be followed for enterprise apps is misguided. After all, the apps do need to run on mobile devices—and those guidelines are there in part to assure proper app performance. Indeed, when creating enterprise apps, developers often have to follow two sets of guidelines: one for the operating system and one for the corporate client. So, while it's true you'll save that 30%, there are still guidelines and quality control best practices to follow.
Also, just because your enterprise app won't be listed in the public-facing apps stores doesn't mean it won't be listed in a corporate apps store. Businesses that use enterprise apps often have more than just one; they may have unique apps geared to the needs of several different departments such as inventory, sales, HR and so forth. For this reason, they often maintain an in-house apps store with listings of the different apps that are available to employees. These listings are often accompanied with instructions for use, and can often be much more detailed than the listings in public apps stores. In some ways, enterprise apps can involve more work and attention to detail than other app types, not less. Cio.com has an interesting article that makes the case for businesses to use enterprise apps stores here.
And there you have it: whereas other mobile apps entertain us, educate us and simplify our everyday lives, enterprise apps are business-focused and help the gears of companies and industries run more efficiently and productively.
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