My iPhone Enterprise Wish List

Slalom Consultant Greg Martin

Greg Martin is a member of the Slalom National Mobility team which incubates emerging technology solutions in areas such as mobility, user experience and alternative application hosting.

At Slalom we don’t dictate what mobile devices our consultants use.  Given the choice, about 40% of our consultants have chosen the iPhone, making it the most popular handset at Slalom.  We have developed a few internal applications for the iPhone using the enterprise deployment model, including an app called Cards.  Cards is a global address book that allows us to get in touch with any other consultant and understand more about them, such as the market they work in and their current client.

Distributing a consumer application through the AppStore is great.  Once your app is submitted and approved, it is there for anyone to install, either from their computer or over the air directly onto your phone.  Alternatively, the enterprise distribution method (similar to the ad-hoc method) makes it challenging for our IT organization to manage application deployments and upgrades across a growing user base.

Here is my wish list to improve enterprise distribution, and interestingly enough, a few of these requests are already in place on other platforms.

Over-the-Air Distribution

At a minimum it would be a great improvement if enterprise applications could be installed over-the-air directly to the device.  The current process of instructing users to download the application and provisioning profile from our internal portal, copy them into iTunes, and sync their phone ends up being a fairly cumbersome process for many users.

Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Android all support some version of this and from an enterprise perspective, this is crucial.

No Annual Provisioning Profile Expiration

Currently, when an app is signed for deployment the provisioning profile for deployment will expire in a year.  So even if your app does not have any updates in that time, you must still deploy a new profile to your users for them to continue to using the application.  This proves to be even more confusing for users than the standard application install.

Android takes a different approach with application signing; they actually recommend you sign for an extended period of time (more than 25 years).

Enterprise AppStore

In addition to over-the-air distribution, a custom enterprise app store on the the device would be the best solution of all.  Everyone is familiar with downloading consumer apps to their phone. If Apple could replicate that experience for enterprise applications, it would make for a lot of happy enterprise customers.

– Greg

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