The quality of the user experience is a critical factor in the success of an enterprise app store. The more positive the user experience, the faster the adoption rate. According to Gartner, Inc., "IT organizations must place user experience at the forefront of the IT self-service strategy. Before design, the IT organization must first determine the appetite, aptitude and expectations for IT self-service in the business. Surveys, focus groups and workplace anthropology can be an effective start, in addition to other forms of engagement."( Design IT Self-Service for the Business Consumer, Jarod Greene, Gartner, Inc., February 19, 2014)
Successful enterprise app stores must offer users a choice of applications. Unlike consumer app stores, however, choice and selection must be limited to some degree in the enterprise. You must confirm that any apps available through the store are well-suited with the overall IT and business strategy, and with the IT computing environment.
Successful stores also offer rapid fulfillment. Business people are accustomed to the immediate delivery available through consumer app stores and they expect the same level of service for business apps. Users cannot always plan ahead with respect to which apps they might need. For example, a sales person may suddenly realize he or she needs an application to open and review a critical document. The employee doesn't have time to submit a request to the help desk and wait for someone from IT to follow-up — or even to wait for IT to use remote access to install the requested software. So the ability to respond quickly is paramount.
Be sure, however, to permit users to indicate whether they want immediate or delayed delivery. In some cases, such as an operating system upgrade, a user may wish to postpone delivery to a time that is more convenient.
Users should also be able to request new applications that are not already available in the app store. The app store should then present the user with a form to fill out, gathering specific information about the new application. This information is passed on to the procurement staff and the Application Readiness team to prepare, test, and package the application. Procurement acquires the application and the Application Readiness team handles compatibility testing and packaging of the application in all required formats (MSI, virtual, mobile and others).
App stores not only address the IT need for control of software licensing, but also meet modern employees' expectations for a consumer-driven experience when it comes to accessing IT services in the workplace. The benefits in terms of higher employee productivity and improved satisfaction are compelling. In addition, by automating one-off software requests and enabling self-service operating system deployments and migrations, an enterprise app store saves many hours of expensive IT staff time, driving down costs substantially. Here are just a few real-world examples of the tangible results realized by automating IT as a Service:
• At Avnet, Inc. - Wait times for applications that don't require approvals dropped from two days to just a few minutes, and IT no longer has to physically install applications on desktop computers.
• For Kuoni, Inc. - An enterprise app store has eliminated routine service desk calls in which users request applications to be pushed out to them. The result is reduced help desk staffing requirements and costs.
• At Providence Health - Applications are now delivered without IT intervention, saving hundreds of hours of staff time. Instead of taking four days, software requests are fulfilled in two hours or less.
Coming up: Enterprise Best Practice #5 - Balance Choice and Convenience with Control
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