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As more customers become familiar with the concept of an “app store” in their personal lives many of them are starting to ask solution providers to provide a similar type capability for their corporation.

Like most things IT, that’s a lot easier said than done. But Michael Ni, chief marketing officer for Avangate, a provider of an e-commerce service platform, says solution providers will need to start setting up their own app stores. Between the rise of mobile computing and the fact that many companies don’t know how they might want to acquire and pay for a particular piece of software, flexibility when it comes to software licensing models has become a critical customer requirement, says Ni.

There’s no doubt that the way corporate software is consumed is being transformed. Influenced by the success of mobile computing applications, corporations are asking vendors to deliver applications in a modular way. Rather than having to download and install a monolithic application, they want to be able to easily access a core piece of software that can then be extended via the addition of any number of modules.

That obviously adds complexity to the licensing process. But customers are also wary of loading software that consumes processing resources even though nobody is using a particular piece of functionality that the vendor thought someone might need on day. They are also painfully aware that the more software there is to install, the more likely there is to be a security vulnerability that needs to be addressed.

In addition, customers are not sure how they want to pay for software going forward. Many of them are interested in cloud computing as way to shift to reduce capital budget requirements. With that shift many of them are also investigating the possibility of make more use of usage-based licensing models.

Ni says that solution providers need to be more prepared to deal with multi-modal licensing schemes. Of course, many solution providers might be tempted to rely on distributors to manage this process for them. But Ni points out that not every distributor carries every piece of software that an end customer may want. As a result, solution providers are better off invoking a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application such as the Avangate e-commerce platform  gives the solution provider more control over what application software can be included in their online app store.

Ultimately, what Ni is getting at is that for all intents and purpose the solution provider as far as the customer is concerned needs to be the online store through which they can test, buy, or rent software. In a world where customers are increasingly starting to mash up applications to create any number of composite applications, the solution provider has to be able provide access to a full range of applications because a lot of customers simply don’t know what they want or need until they see it.

That’s obviously a significant challenge in terms of the sheer volume of software that is available today. But if a solution provider truly does know there customer, anticipating what software will be of interest to that customer should just be a standard part of the selling motion.