Company Hub ?
Since the arrival of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft offers businesses the opportunity to develop enterprise portals (Company Hub) to publish applications for their employees. The aim is to provide business applications, necessary for the needs of a corporation, without validation or publication on the Microsoft Windows Phone Store. In addition to the applications management part, an enterprise portal is also a communication tool: it can relay information to employees (organizational changes, health server status ...). You can use Push Notifications, Live Tiles and Lock Screen to improve the visibility of these communications.
This article covers the steps prior to the establishment of a Company Hub and the development parts used to make this portal. Deployment is manual and I do not use MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution such as Windows Intune or System Center Configuration Manager 2012. If you opt for a managed deployment, keep in mind that these softwares natively offer a company portal (Windows Phone 8 Company Portal App) ready to use. For more details, I suggest to read the following articles:
- Set up Windows Intune Direct Management for Windows Phone 8 Mobile Devices
- How to Manage Mobile Devices by Using the Windows Intune Connector in Configuration Manager
Let’s go ! Although the procedure can seem a bit long, the idea is relatively simple. To install applications outside of Windows Phone Store, you must obtain a certificate that gives you this privilege and that identifies your company. Once this certificate in hand, you must associate the phones to your company and sign all your applications with the certificate. The Company Hub is an application like any other, it must also be signed.
I've whined a little about this feature of Windows Phone 8 in the past, saying it looked like kind of a pain to get running (see below), but Jean-Sébastien makes it look much, much easier.