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Benefits of a Self-service App-store: From Reducing Shadow IT to Enhancing IT Security

18 Jan 2017

Your IT to-do list may be long and include many tasks that are just hopeful wishes. But, there should be one item that is high up on there as it will kill many birds with one stone.

 

Your users will be very familiar with app-stores by now. From iTunes to Google Play, they will be comfortable finding, downloading and using the apps they need. Introducing this level of software self-service to your organization will provide benefits in 5 areas:

  1. Help reduce shadow IT
  2. Improve software license compliance
  3. Enhance IT security
  4. Increase user productivity
  5. Reduce costs

With a list of benefits like this, the ROI of such a corporate app-store project will be easy to measure and justify. So, let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

 

Help Reduce Shadow IT

What is shadow IT?

Shadow IT is a term used to describe hardware or software within an organization that is used inside the business, without the approval of the organization and is not supported by the central IT department.

The amount of shadow IT inside organizations is growing, predominantly as a result of the ease in accessing and downloading software onto devices. Whilst this is a real pain from IT’s point of view, you need to look at things from a user’s perspective to understand why this is happening.

If you are using a tablet or other touch screen device you want the software you are using to be optimized for touch, not for the desktop. If your IT department only offers the desktop version, employees will look at other ways of getting what they want.

While this might solve the user’s immediate issues, using such unauthorized software can lead to all sorts of support problems, not to mention generating potential security threats, which could leave your organization open to malware attacks.

So, how can you reduce the threat of shadow IT?

There are 2 ways of dealing with this. Firstly, you can attempt to stop it, with restrictions, policies and sanctions. Although you may have some success in reducing shadow IT this way, it is a bit like herding cats. Just when you think you have got it sorted, someone will find another way of circumventing the controls and you will be back to square one.

The second and better way is to make it easier for employees to find and download the software (that has previously been approved by IT) they need to do their job. This is facilitated by implementing a corporate app store that gives your users what they want, whilst at the same time providing the level of control you need to manage IT resources effectively.

 

Enhance IT Security with Corporate App Store

Ensuring your corporate network and data is fully protected is an important and ever-growing task. Having unknown and unauthorized software on your network leaves a potential back door open for security problems. Only by being in control of the software installed on your network can you be sure that this back door is firmly locked and bolted.

A corporate app store will provide all the authorized software your employees will need. This will help reduce the incidence of unauthorized software/ shadow IT being installed on your network, leading to reduced security threats.

 

Improve Software License Compliance

A corporate app store helps to improve the process of software license management. Having more people using the software than you have licenses for is a common problem. In many organizations, this only comes to light when they are audited by their software vendor. By then it is too late and they end up with an unexpected true-up bill and also, potentially, a non-compliance fine.

It would be better if both the issue and re-harvesting of licenses was controlled from the outset to ensure non-compliance does not happen. A corporate app store will ensure that a license is only issued to a person requesting if you have one available, which will prevent non-compliance of under-licensing.

Similarly, you will have many licenses out there that are now not being utilized. An app store will enable you to automatically reclaim these unused licenses, allowing them to be recycled and avoiding the need for need for new purchases.

 

Increase User Productivity

The diversifying IT landscape is great news for end users. From corporate owned mobile devices through to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, the impact this can have on user productivity is significant. Being able to quickly find, request and have automatically downloaded, to these devices, the software they need to do their job will save them (and your organization) considerable time.

However on the other side of the coin, are the problems with managing this new world. The ideal of a standard endpoint device has now completely disappeared from IT’s radar. Rather than trying to shoehorn their users into a one-size-fits-all approach, IT departments should seek to embrace this diversity and look to move towards unified end point management. This will enable them to more effectively control and manage their software deployment as well as improving the end user experience.

A corporate app store will deliver the user productivity your organization will benefit from whilst at the same providing the level of control you need to properly manage and secure IT resources.

 

Reduce Costs

Support and help desk staff are spending an increasing amount of their time dealing with low-level tasks that could easily be automated. A major source of these are software requests and installations. If these tasks were automated it would save significant time (and consequently money) for skilled IT staff, enabling them to be redeployed on higher value tasks.

In addition, by centralizing the management and distribution of software through an app store, it will mean that you have all the usage and software licensing information to hand that will enable you to negotiate better deals with your software vendors. From lower prices to better license terms, due to the amount that today’s organizations spend on software, the savings could be substantial and deliver a rapid ROI.

The improved management information that the app store delivers will also enable you to get better use out of what you have – a key function of software asset management (SAM) and license optimization. From re harvesting the licenses of people who have left through pooling license types, to ensuring employees have the right type of license, the savings can be substantial.

 

Self-service is the Way Forward

By giving your employees the capability to choose and deploy the software and hardware they need to do their jobs (albeit with the necessary checks and signoffs), you will at a stroke remove the root cause of shadow IT whilst regaining control of what is deployed. What’s more by improving the service levels you give your end users you will be raising the profile and reputation of IT across the organization – a win-win situation.

Find out how the corporate app-store, Certero App-Centre will help you achieve this.

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