By: Greg Holmes
Users are consumers in the workplace. They choose what they need to do their jobs well. They go to the stationary cupboard to get the right kind of pens. They select a hotel from the company travel portal. They choose a car according to what is available in the fleet. When it comes to software, users are better served by choosing software according to what they need to do. This is already being done with these other items, so why not offer a choice when it comes to software.
Give the user a catalog that they can choose from and at the same time improve your ability to manage licenses. This kind of catalog is a similar concept to the Apple AppStore. Users search a catalog of all applications that work on Apple products, sorted by ratings, costs, needs and popularity, and they buy these Apps directly. Wouldn't it be great if you had an App store in your business that details the how the tools are used, the cost, availability, and corporate preference, and then let the users select the right tool for their needs?
Enterprise users will find ways to access software that they need to do their job. Allowing this to happen and not tracking this access will lead to licensing problems. However, by giving the users more access and tracking their activity to ensure that a process is followed will allow the user to get what they need, not necessarily what they want.
IT has been the gatekeeper for user access to applications by deploying them with traditional tools, but IT is not typically in tune with the business roles of all of the users. Creating a catalog of applications that an enterprise can publish for their users cuts down on the IT effort needed. They no longer need to translate a request from a user, then create a work order, and then physically make the change. By pre-authorizing the work, and putting the decision into the hands of the business owners makes the whole process a lot quicker for the user and less work for IT.
This concept of an enterprise app store will also mean more license efficiency as the licenses will be given out by the business, and not by IT administrators, or "techies with CDs", or direct user installs. Who knows whether you are licensed correctly in those situations?
The app store solution is becoming a reality for today's enterprises. It saves organizations a lot of effort in deciding who needs software by putting the onus on the user, but at the same time keeping control on the installations so that they don't consume licenses that are not owned. And if the organization needs to buy more, license managers will have appropriate information to make the right purchases.