As workforces become increasingly mobile, companies need to provide the tools that help their employees succeed with their business objectives. In many cases, a mobile application is a great place to start. From creating an app that helps you manage property site inspection to a voice activated product catalog and pricing system, mobile applications are a great way to bring heightened productivity and efficiency to your organization.

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But once a company has the mobile application developed (I cover those options in a previous blog), how do they deploy it to their employee’s mobile devices?

The answer depends on to which device they are deploying. The two key devices in the mobile market today are IOS and Android. Both have similar and unique ways in which companies can deploy their applications to their employees.

IOS

We’ll start with Apple and IOS devices. Apple restricts what can be installed on an IOS device.  As a developer, you cannot just copy the installation file and install it on someone’s device.  Apple restricts via a Distribution Certificate (more on that in another blog), but Apple does provide several ways to deploy an IOS application.

Public App Store:

To distribute your application to the App Store you need a developer license. This license requires a $99/year fee.  For companies to publish in the App Store, they also need a D-U-N-S number. Apple will do a verification check on your company before authorizing the account.

The benefit of using the App Store is that Apple provides the distribution Services. Finding the application and keeping it up to date is easy and familiar to IOS users.

The drawbacks are:

  • The application has to go through an approval process to make sure the application follows the Apple application design guides. This also happens every time the application is updated. It took Trilix two days to get our Q&A App
  • It’s public. Everyone can see your application and download it.

Enterprise Distribution Program:

The IOS Enterprise Distribution program is designed to allow companies to distribute their own in-house application without the need to go to thru the App Store. This program requires a yearly fee of $299 and a D-U-N-S number. In addition, Apple will also want to talk to you directly to determine your application needs. This program supports the use of these applications on both employee and contractor devices.

The key benefits are:

  1. Companies do not have to publish through the App Store, thereby allowing companies to control who can access the application.
  2. There is no Apple review process, meaning no delay in getting the application and updates out to your employees and contractors.

The challenge is that since the application is not in the App Store, the company needs to provide the deployment mechanism. Most companies will use a Mobile Device Manage System (MDM) to accomplish this.

B2B Business Store:

If a company’s application is a B2B solution, Apple provides support for this in the App Store. As the application author, your company follows the same App Store guidelines. which means the application will need to go through the Apple review process.

Although the application is in the store, it will not be visible to the general public. The difference is your business partners need to have a volume purchasing account with Apple. They will also have to go through the D-U-N-S number verification process, too.

Android

Deploying to an Android device is not as restrictive as Apple and companies have more than one store to which they can publish.

App Store:

There are several Android App Stores/Market and each one has its own guidelines and procedures on how to publish. Let’s review some of the more popular ones:

To publish to the Google Play Store a company just needs to pay a one-time fee of $25. The review process is a lot quicker than Apple. It only took Trilix two hours to have our Q&A app reviewed and published in the Google Play Store.

Direct:

With the Android device, it is not as restrictive as IOS. As an open platform, companies can directly deploy their applications to their employee and contractor devices, without having to register with Google. Companies can use an email or website to allow users to download and install their application.

Since the app is not distributed from a “trusted source” (like Google Play), users must navigate to their “Install Unknown Apps” systems settings and allow apps to be installed from a particular location.

Additionally, companies can use a Mobile Device Manage System (MDM) to manage the deployment and upgrade of Android applications.

Next Steps

So, your next steps should be:

  1. Figure out that game-changing mobile solutions for your employees
  2. Determine what platform(s) your employees will use
  3. Determine the best deployment option to use
  4. Let start coding…

In future posts, I’ll talk about how to track your application usage and diagnose and fix problems before your employees find them.

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