With the proliferation of business-focused mobile apps and the growing acceptance of the bring your own device (BYOD) model, businesses need to become much savvier when it comes to the use of mobile technology within their organisation.

While it is essential to give employees the best tools to do their job, which increasingly means apps, it is also necessary to manage the access users have to corporate information. The provision of reliable, secure and relevant apps that can be managed effectively is therefore an increasingly important part of the IT department’s remit.

Mobile app management company Apperian provides cloud-based technology to help enterprises securely manage and deploy apps across mobile operating systems, and the rise of the BYOD movement is helping drive the company’s growth, according to CEO David Patrick (pictured).

“Businesses are quickly coming to grips with BYOD in terms of content, privacy, security, intellectual property and corporate policy requirements. They also are rapidly realising how to leverage this trend to reap productivity gains,” he said.

The development of BYOD and enterprise apps
Describing mobility in the enterprise sector as “a white-hot market,” Patrick said it has become virtually impossible for IT departments to wait any longer to embrace apps.

With companies now starting to build and deploy apps en masse, business chiefs want smartphones to do more than merely provide email, calendar and contact functionality. This means that now is the time to “either build highly targeted bespoke apps, license and customise frameworks that are available, or buy apps for their workforce”, according to the Apperian CEO.

The growth of the BYOD approach in businesses supports this view: the biggest challenge is now keeping up with the growth in the number of mobile apps being used in the workplace. “The faster the BYOD market grows, the faster the MAM [mobile application management] market will grow,” Patrick continued.

In response to this, the company is constantly evolving its EASE app management platform to meet the demands of its growing installed base.

“With our funding sources, rockstar engineering team, and customers who share critical information to make EASE better each day, I would say Apperian is very much able to keep pace with the market and the apps being introduced into the enterprise,” he said.

International expansion and partnerships
Apperian secured US$12.4 million in funding in March this year and is using the investment to meet demand in North America and Europe. The funding will also be used to hire extra sales and marketing staff and to expand internationally.

Apperian already has offices in the UK and France and partners in China, Australia and elsewhere in Europe. However, the company said that it does not need a physical presence in new countries because its cloud-based platform gives it a global reach.

International growth comes with challenges. For example, launching the EASE platform in China has required the company to tweak the technology to support local practices, including changing where it is hosted.

There are also cultural differences in terms of user experience, meaning that specific workflows need to be altered for some markets. In order to increase its user base, Apperian plans to pursue further partnerships similar to the one formed with AT&T in January, which sees its services resold under the US operator’s brand. “We do see other partnerships in the future under similar co-branded arrangements,” Patrick said.

One of the benefits of the partnership with AT&T is that it provides Apperian with a much larger sales footprint than it has on its own.

“For our customers, they get the assurance and comfort level of working with a company like AT&T as well as a single vendor source for all things mobile including devices, calling plans and other mobile services, including EASE,” he noted.

Differentiation in a crowded market
Apperian prides itself in being the first mobile apps management vendor, and so has been able to remain one of the “thought leaders” in the space, according to Patrick.

As it also builds apps, Patrick said the company understands the “full lifecycle” of products, differentiating it from competitors. It has broadened its remit to include sourcing, preparing and securing apps, as well as deploying them.

Apperian rates a cloud-based implementation above an on-premise approach, because it is more scalable, gives customers no IT footprint within their organisation, and can be deployed rapidly. It also requires no initial investment. “It enables our customers and us in an instant to scale to tens of thousands of mobile users,” he noted.

Another differentiator is that the EASE platform incorporates crowdsourcing and gamification in an effort to better engage users. The idea is for employees and developers to drive improvements to existing apps and generate ideas for new ones. Consumers are encouraged to give their feedback through the awarding of badges for the best ideas, leader boards and ratings systems.

“While most MAM vendors still focus on the app catalogue, we have seen and responded to evolving enterprise requirements for mobile such as app-level security, compliance, analytics and user feedback,” Patrick said.

Future expansion
Apperian has an eye on the future and is looking to take advantage of emerging technology trends. “We are also expanding our product development organisation and investing in new technologies,” Patrick said.

The company will continue to build out its EASE platform with enhancements to its SDK, such as a single sign-on for the multiple apps people may use.

Security around mobile device management is another area it is exploring, with device lock and wipe being made possible via the platform, along with app policy wrapping from Mocana, and the provision of additional capabilities to help enterprises build apps with specific security policies.

Tim Ferguson