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The IT groups of each company I see being are driven to innovate and deliver at a faster pace for businesses to stay competitive. IT based products and services that generate real revenue are outpacing the cost savings initiatives. The momentum of these demands is colliding into IT services that have been stripped down to bare minimum operation levels with the majority of its operations outsourced via master service agreements that wrap the simplest service into forms and week long turn-arounds [rant]. That does not put IT in a great position to innovate a design into a solution let along deliver it. If your company has a surviving R&D department go pat the CIO on the pack for having some long term vision past the IT as a cost center mentality.

Ironically what I see on the flip side of this demand for innovation is vendors that are innovating great things with hopes of finding customers that need the solution to validate them. The challenge for IT is not finding staffing partners that can help IT innovate as any company will take an idea and develop it from scratch learning along the way. Its connecting the partners that have already innovated the solution they are looking for. These partners don’t show up with staff . they come to the table with a shard vision and pure passion to see the idea succeed a sit has their name on it as well as the customer funding it.

There in lies the value of the App Store. Launchworks has always been about taking ideas from concept to reality. The days we get a customer to find us on the web via SEO, Facebook, linked in or email initiatives and have a need we can demonstrate are some of the very best. How do we better connect with the customers that are looking for turnkey solutions at the time of the demand vs 9 months later after a frustrating POC or failed internally staffed project?

App Stores can be the grocery store of innovation aligning leading or even bleeding edge solutions solutions with the companies that need them. There are several keys to an App Store being effective

1) Having enough apps in the beginning so that a customers first trip is not a turn off. Even if they don’t find what they are looking for the first time they are now connected to a community that has as pure purpose of connecting them with the solutions they need. On the first day of a cry cleaners business notice how there are already clothes on the racks? This takes a proactive search for innovation by the App Stores manager to provide new and relevant content as easy to find as the vegetable aisle in the store.

2) Solutions need to have the same ability to be found regardless of the employee size or revenue of the development team. Let the customer decide if they care if the bits and bytes were delivered by a staff across 3 continents over a ear or on a single night on the developer’s kitchen table. Customers can rank it later if its really that bad of a solution. Cluttering the store with multiple SKU’s of the same tool or ranking the results based on size of the developers marketing budget will ensure an early death of the App Store’s relevancy for an innovation connector.

3) Apps need to be easy to find based on what the customer needs. This is where the challenge is for the developers of these apps. Categories, tags, and key words only work well if they match the terms the searcher thinks of at the time they are searching. As a long time Ecohub partner I know a customer looking for a “reporting plugin for their Tibco portal” will not find our solution for an “embedded BI portal framework”. This is where innovations from the Apple, Google and Netflix and my local grocery store should provide ample methods of connecting the searcher using standard methods followed up by proactive communications.

a) Dynamic categories that can be updated based on common search terms not necessarily what the App Stores manager things users search on.

b) Proactive recommendations based on data captured during search and evaluation steps.

c) followup to customers post  search to remind them of the resource and alerts on new sources of innovation available since their last visit.

With Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Netflix all investing on these technologies like never before my hope is that the SAP App Store located in the near future at http://www.sapstore.com takes what works already in the area of consumer and mobile and allows for the innovation of their diverse community to be connected with the customers that need it for the enterprise.

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