Work - it's a fact we all need to face. It's an inevitable part of our lives that allows us to enjoy the finer things, such as holidays in the sun and fast cars. So if we have to work, then shouldn't it be as easy for us as possible? As social networks, smartphones and tablet devices take our personal lives by storm, employees beg the question: 'Why shouldn't we be able to use these things in the workplace?'
Businesses are now looking to replicate the experiences that employees have with technology in their personal lives, in the office. People no longer want to use the mandated devices issued by the powers that be in their workplace; they want to use their chosen tools that suit their working styles, without limitations. The introduction of corporate app stores, where users can download the applications as and when they need them, are paving the way for a new breed of social office. By mirroring consumer offerings like Apple iTunes, these app stores allow employees to be more autonomous and download software as and when needed at the click of a mouse. This evolution changes our idea of work as we know it, increasing productivity, creativity and satisfaction to boot!
A self-service culture
In today's digital age, today's iWorker is no stranger to the phrase 'there's an app for that.' As employees drive the Bring-Your-Own-Device trend by bringing their new gadgets and tablet devices into the workplace, businesses must look for ways to ensure that these devices have the software and applications needed to be work-ready. In today's fast-paced work environment, waiting is not an option employees want the tools they need to do their jobs now. We expect our iTunes downloads to be delivered to our screens within seconds, so why shouldn't this be the case for work software?
With a recent study highlighting that almost three quarters (75%) of employees wait up to a week or more for software they request through their IT department, it's perhaps little wonder that they are doing it for themselves when possible. Much like selecting and downloading a song from iTunes, corporate app stores, give employees the freedom to select the software they need within minutes. Using these consumer-style corporate app stores not only allows employees to work to the beat of their own drum, it also means that there's less pressure on the IT guy. With 12% of IT help desk requests being for new software, corporate app stores could save businesses around $8.6bn a year in IT help desk costs.
To ensure that corporate app stores support BYOD policies, here are some top tips that organisations should bear in mind:
• Considering the fact that many workers typically work on a tablet or check corporate email on a smartphone, a corporate app store should also enable those responsible for approving software requests to approve or reject these requests from their mobile devices. This helps to ensure that the speed of request fulfillment keeps up with the speed of requests made.
•Corporate app store web-pages need to work in cross-platform browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Safari to allow actions to be carried out with the existing web interface on a mobile device.
•Remote access to corporate app stores should be granted to enable access for mobile devices that do not sit on the corporate LAN.
•Because they have access to their providers' app stores, more often than not, workers will use their corporate app store to make requests for their mobile devices that are related to "accounts", "access", and "privileges". For example, a provider can have iOS, Android and Blackberry apps, all of which are available cost-free on the respective app stores. However, the apps are all useless without a registered account with that provider, which the enterprise would need to pay for and provision. The corporate app store should be able to handle enabling the request, approval and account provisioning via a mobile device.
Some organisations have already introduced corporate app stores into the business. For example, agri-science company Syngenta introduced a web-based app store solution in an effort to reduce the number of software requests employees were making to the IT department. Syngenta managed to save an astounding $1.7m a year, as well as 50,000 hours of IT support time.
The future's bright
There's no denying that technology has transformed today's working practices and opened up possibilities that transcend location, border and time zone. We are now more connected than ever, and our concept of the office has evolved. In an age where social networks and tablet devices are defining the way we collaborate and communicate, it's important for businesses to recognise that employees are driving change and becoming more vocal about the tools they need to do their jobs. The future is bright for the concept of a new social office, but with employees driving the need for innovation in the workplace, businesses will need to keep in-step in order to keep the promise of a bright future for the office alight.
Dave Harding is a product manager at 1E for the corporate app store Shopping™. More information about 1E can be found at.