More and more enterprises will adopt company-specific app stores over the next five years, according to a new research note from Gartner. This adoption will be driven in large part by the increasing number of mobile devices in the hands of employees. While many enterprises already offer customized software for PCs, the inevitable next step is to build the mobile equivalent for all those employee-owned tablets and smartphones. With enterprise app stores, executives and IT administrators can exert a higher degree of control over what their employees actually download—provided, of course, that employees actually use that custom-built portal to download the software needed to do their jobs. "Apps downloaded from public app stores for mobile devices disrupt IT security, application and procurement strategies," Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a Feb. 12 statement. "Bring your own application (BYOA) has become as important as bring your own device (BYOD) in the development of a comprehensive mobile strategy, and the trend toward BYOA has begun to affect desktop and Web applications as well.” But enterprise app stores can only fulfill their promise, he added, “if IT security, application, procurement and sourcing professionals can work together to successfully apply the app store concept to their enterprises.” Part of that successful adoption hinges on enterprises’ need to recognize app stores as just one component in a broader, corporate-specific mobile platform; according to Gartner, more enterprises are having their Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors build out app stores as part of other contracted services, which is a solid first step in that direction. Gartner also advocates that enterprises transition from a “traditional approach” of selecting devices and software for employees, to one that gives those employees more leverage over what they download. But change is scary, and enabling choice for those employees could prove a bridge too far for the bureaucracy within some organizations. "The implementation of an enterprise app store should be seen as a component of an organization's application strategy, rather than infrastructure strategy," Brian Prentice, research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a statement. "The primary determinant of success is app supply. As a result, application leaders should be given overall responsibility for any app store initiative, but they should work in a collaborative fashion with other teams. The types of apps downloaded and used provide important information as to what types of solutions are of value to each type of user." By 2017, the research firm predicts, some 25 percent of enterprises will have an enterprise app store.   Image: Oleksiy Mark/