Recently we went through the pros and cons of using a mobile website or an app in your compliance program. In this post, we will focus on the distribution of an app for your compliance program. For our discussion we will only be talking about distributing apps for Apple and Android mobile devices and not including Microsoft Windows or Blackberry apps.
Google Play and Apple App stores:
There are approximately 2.8 million Android apps on the Google Play store and approximately 2.2 million apps on the Apple App store. You can add your company app to either of these stores, free of charge, for your employees to download. Unfortunately this doesn’t ensure that all your corporate owned mobile devices have your compliance app on their phone. However, this is an easy way for employees with personal devices, or companies with a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to distribute the app.
Mobile Device Management & Mobile Application Management Solutions
A lot of companies that have corporate issued devices are already using Mobile Device Management (MDM) and/or Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions. Airwatch, MobileIron and MaaS360 are just some of the solutions that allow IT departments to quickly set up mobile devices with pre-configured settings. In addition, these solutions allow apps to be pushed to the mobile device with either limited or no action required by the employee. This ensures the most recent version of the app is on the mobile device. In addition, if you have a BYOD environment these solutions can manage the app on a personal device if the employee agrees to it. The MDM/MAM solutions cannot see or control any other aspect of the mobile device but can add, edit or delete the app.
What if your company doesn’t have an MDM/MAM solution:
Android apps are easily distributed and can be included in an email or placed on a website. Apple, on the other hand, controls the app distribution process a little differently by controlling the installation of the app. Apple requires an app to be signed by Apple, a developer, or your company. If your company signs up for an Apple Developer account the app can be distributed via email or placed on a website. If you don’t have a developer account then your choices are limited to the app store or possibly through the Apple Configurator tool which acts as an MDM. Finally, if you outsource the app build to a third party, they can place the app in a Volume Purchase Program account associated with your company for you to assign to various devices.
What does this all mean?
I highly recommend you involve your IT department when thinking about deploying a compliance app for your company. They can be a great asset when thinking through various options for deploying apps to devices in a manner that best suits your company’s environment.