Apperian Targets Big Enterprises for Mobile App Management in BYOD Era

If you’re like me, the biggest question about the iPhone 5 is how far you can dropkick it.

Ditto the Nokia/Microsoft Lumia 820, the Motorola/Google Droid Razr M, the Kindle Fire HD…and pretty much every new device du jour. (I’m an equal-opportunity hater of screens—especially screens advertised incessantly on other screens—but I’m resigned to using them as a neo-Luddite.)

Big companies’ IT departments might feel the same way, but for different reasons. As Chuck Goldman, the founder of Boston-based Apperian (and a former Apple exec) puts it, “This is the first major hardware refresh since BYOD.”

He’s talking about “Bring Your Own Device,” the business policy of letting employees use their own smartphones and tablets for work purposes. The practice has become widespread over the past year, and it can be a headache for big businesses when new devices and software versions are showing up almost weekly. Employees’ devices need to be accounted for, and the software and corporate data they access needs to be secured. What’s more, when employees leave a company, the firm has to make sure they’re not taking proprietary data with them.

Apperian, a three-year-old software startup, has grown up amidst the enterprise mobile fray, and it is positioning itself as a one-stop solution to these problems. A couple years ago, I thought of Apperian as a mobile development startup, focused on building consumer-facing apps for brands like Estee Lauder and Timberland. But then the company went after a bigger market: creating a mobile-app platform for enterprises to develop and deploy their own internal apps, sort of like an enterprise app store. The platform, called EASE (Enterprise Application Services Environment), is used by big customers including Cisco, NetApp, Nvidia, and Proctor & Gamble. Now the company is emphasizing its app management chops to said customers.

In the meantime, the whole enterprise mobile landscape has become much more sophisticated, even though the market is still young. “We’re in the first inning of a nine-inning ballgame,” says David Patrick, Apperian’s CEO. “Over the last 12 months, with most enterprises [going] BYOD, everything they’ve been really good at for the last 15 years, they’ve lost control of.” He’s talking about IT issues such as who gets what device; which generation of operation system is on each device; and how to secure corporate apps and information.

Another challenge: “Apple innovates with the consumer [in mind] first,” says Goldman. “Things like Siri, better core location, better cameras. Enterprise thinks, ‘We just locked down that, and here are all these new challenges.’ That’s the nature of the beast. We try to anticipate … Next Page »

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