Recent technology developments and trends, most notably cloud computing and the emergence of mobile devices in the workforce, is raising the expectations from end users for new levels of service from enterprise IT. The ‘consumerization’ of IT has led to users demanding not only the sophisticated technologies that they enjoy on their own devices, but also the flexibility and on-demand convenience to which they have grown accustomed to with app stores. That’s why many big enterprises are now leveraging the popularity of app-stores within their business.
Today there are many types of business applications available, delivering not just traditional email/calendaring solutions, but which also target key industry verticals and specific business processes. Part of the appeal of the app-store model is the ability to deliver an internal “marketplace” to host these applications, which can be downloaded and integrated quickly. End users get immediate access to the applications that they need, creating a more efficient internal process that drives productivity. And cloud-based applications offer the added bonus of secure 24/7 accessibility from any device and any location.
The app-store model is already making significant inroads into the enterprise. Major US sugar producer Imperial Sugar, for example, operates a hybrid cloud environment, with about 95% of its applications running on a private cloud in its data center, and the remainder accessed via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Panasonic also recently launched Panasonic Cloud Business Phone System, its first cloud-based services solution that enables small businesses to activate new features or additional phone lines online, without the need to contact support. Even government agencies are embracing the app-store model, with the GSA in the US and the Cabinet Office in the UK establishing cloud-based application stores for departmental use.
For some industries, cloud-based apps are transforming the entire business process. The use of virtual data rooms, accessed by intermediaries, investment companies and corporations, has helped streamline the buying, selling and trading of assets. Global participants have 24/7 simultaneous access to key financial documents as they become available in a secure and auditable environment. Many of these organizations are recognizing the financial and operational efficiencies of using cloud-based applications and are expanding the use of Virtual Data Rooms beyond M&A to regulatory compliance processes, corporate finance and financial audits.