Nov 22 2016

OneNote and Office Lens – hidden gem or does everyone know?


This is one of those blog posts that I’ve thought about for a while, but worried that I was stating the bleeding obvious and so have put it off. I’ve used Office Lens and OneNote for so long now that I figure others must know about it and be using it? But if not then there are folks missing out on a really useful tool for anyone who needs to collate information from various sources (whiteboard write ups, projector screens, hand written notes on paper, printed documents, business cards etc). Given that law firms are mainly users of Microsoft Office and are now generally on smartphone platforms it’s a great combination for the lawyers.

So here we go.

Office Lens: This is a smartphone app for iPhone, Android and Windows 10 Mobile. Its purpose is to allow you to quickly take notes using the phones camera.

The app allows simple selection of some defaults (whiteboard, document etc) to set things up and then attempts to auto crop the content (and does a good job for most things). You can then fine tune this before accepting the photo, where the app then flattens and straightens up the image (so if you’ve taken the photo at an angle what you end up with is a nice flat image).


You can then email the document or import quickly into one of the key Microsoft Office apps, the most useful I have found being One Note. It’s a really quick way to collate notes together in a OneNote notebook. For scanned images where the text is machine readable OneNote then OCR’s the content and makes it searchable in the notebook. For business cards you can of course simply photo the card and immediately add the information directly as digital contact to mobile address books – there’s an article here on how to do this.

Best of all it’s totally free.


Feb 25 2014

It’s touch friendly MS Office first for the iPad and now an Android phone from Microsoft?


Much has been made on numerous tech sites of the alleged Microsoft decision to release the touch friendly version of Office dubbed “Gemini” first on the iPad rather than on their own Windows 8 tablets. The angle a lot of the articles have taken is that this somehow highlights a huge vote of no confidence in Windows 8 and that even Microsoft favour the iPad over their Surface and Windows 8 tablet devices.

I don’t think this is the case, my feeling is Microsoft realise that their long game is to get us all hooked into their cloud based Office365 environment. After all in terms of long term revenue streams, that is where they will make the money over time. But couldn’t they still do this by launching on the iPad after the Surface? Well yes, but the early adopters of the Surface devices will already be running Office2013 which when combined with keyboard covers mean the device is already ahead of the iPad for document production and spreadsheet editing. So it does make sense to target the iPad contingent initially and pull them into the Office365 eco system.

Then this Monday (23/02/14) the same type of lazy reporting comes out of the Mobile World Congress. Headlines scream Nokia are going Android, but what they’re doing is launching a forked version of Android on some cheap handsets for emerging markets, they won’t hook into Google Play at all and will have their own app store. Again they’re designed to bring people into the Microsoft ecosystem with OneDrive, Skype, HERE maps etc integrated and a very Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone) UI on top. Still, I’m actually more convinced on the Office play than this one, although I can see where they’re coming from in terms of the ecosystem I struggle to see how the Nokia X can be that much cheaper for emerging markets than say the Lumia 520. Especially when you consider the loosening of the hardware restrictions this week for Windows Phone.

But what this does all show is that it’s not about just products anymore, it’s all about the ecosystem. Apple understood this first and tied up a good chunk of the consumer market, Microsoft is aiming to do the same in the corporate space with Office365 and Azure. Throwing a line to the huge iPad user community with Office Gemini or leveraging an Android development team for cheap entry phones is just a long game play for Microsoft.

The question to Legal IT vendors is how are you going to plumb into these ecosystems? If you’re coming along to LawTech Futures 2014 in March I’ll expand on this topic and question a bit more in my talk (straight after lunch on the Lounge Stage).


Jan 28 2014

Smartphones in law firms – which way’s the wind blowing?


Back in September I finished a poll on my site that asked which platform people thought was going to become the leader in law firms. iOS topped that poll which was not surprising from a consumer perspective, but from a costs perspective it was rather surprising given the high device costs AND the higher tariff costs for non-consumer tariffs (particularly in the UK where 50%+ of the traffic for this site comes from).

So since then I’ve been running a poll asking a slightly more specific question, focussing much more on the costs aspect to see if the results matched.

Are you considering as a firm to remain with BlackBerry 7 to control your costs? 

The results were interesting, 20% indicated they were going to stick with BlackBerry 7 devices (either keeping the same handsets or upgrading to the latest/last BB7 device). Only 12% said they were going to go BlackBerry 10, this roughly tallied with the 16% in the previous “Which mobile platform do you think will become the leading platform in law firms?” poll.

Still though I was surprised that 68% said they would go with a different OS, meaning one of iOS, Android or Windows Phone.

I still struggle to grasp how in such a cost sensitive industry like Legal there can be a cost-benefit analysis that justifies iPhones for all, smartphones yes but high end smartphones? It’s an interesting landscape that is going to change dramatically in 2014 I’m sure, but I still think that Windows Phone has a big part to play here. I know of a few large international businesses (outside Legal) that have gone the MS way, will further integration into products like Systems Centre for management of mobiles make this easier for firms? Or will a more consumer own device with business providing SaaS (Software as a Service) facilities be the norm? Time will tell.


p.s. I’m running another poll at the moment looking at what people use for news (rss) feeds since the demise of Google Reader. Why not take a vote? It’s at the top right of the home page of my site.



Sep 16 2013

Which mobile platform do you think will become the leading platform in law firms?


I’ve had this question on a poll on my site for a few months now and thought as it had passed about 150 votes it should give a reasonable indication of what Legal folk think. Now clearly with an online poll there will be a fairly wide margin of error, but I figure for every Apple fan who votes without thinking there will be a BlackBerry (BB) fan doing the same. So hopefully some of the error will be nullified.

Unsurprisingly the Apple iPhone topped the poll with 46% thinking it will become the leading platform. Safe to say that most vendors think this too with the majority of Legal IT apps appearing on this platform first (or in the case of many only on this platform), also a lot of the MDM/MAM (Mobile Device/Application Management) providers think the same and provide iOS with a level of control above all other platforms.

What came next is the interesting result. Up second was Windows Phone 8 with 23% thinking it will be the leading platform in law firms, beating the other two who got a fairly equal share (BB10 at 16% and Android at 15%). Android was interesting as in the consumer market this OS dominates the smartphone arena. Does the fragmentation of the OS and lack of controls give an impression of it not being manageable or secure enough for the enterprise? As for BB10 I suspect its newness accounts for its position. It remains to be seen whether the promise clearly shown by Windows Phone can translate into market penetration in the legal enterprise.

Final thought though is if I had put “Old BlackBerry” on the list and highlight a little more the costs, in particular roaming costs, would the %’s change significantly? I think all the UK networks are putting the BB10 on a smartphone tariff, thus removing the in built cost control of unlimited managed data anywhere in the world that you had with the old BB’s. This alone for a lot of firms with a high number of travellers could ramp up costs significantly.

So as you can see I’ve swapped the poll on the right and I’d be interested in learning the thoughts of the Legal market on this. Get voting!


Jun 22 2012

The Eagle has Landed – Microsoft launch “Apollo” aka Windows phone 8


I know this is another “mobile phone” blog post from me, but I make no apologies. I think mobile and BYOD (bring your own device) is one of the biggest changes that will happen in Legal IT in the next few years.

I also think this weeks announcement from Microsoft will be the start of a turning point for Legal IT mobile technology. The slow shift from BlackBerry to other platforms will start to gather pace with Windows Phone 8. There are a few features that have been announced in Windows Phone 8 that allow this platform to be considered as a real corporate alternative to the BlackBerry.

The first couple are already available on other platforms but they fill a hole that Windows Phone 7.5 had, which are on-device encryption and over the air updates. The former is critical to safeguard data in law firms. I’ve not seen the exact specs for this, but one can hope that the enterprise can manage this along side encryption provided in Windows 7 and 8 on the desktop (ie effectively will be the same Bitlocker technology). Over the air updates are a must for a large law firm, can you imagine the need to tether 1000+ devices to Zune to update??

A new feature which differentiates Windows Phone 8 is the OS integration with VoIP technology. By default Microsofts Skype will be integrated (although later reports indicate this may be allowed to be removed by carriers wanting to protect their phone call revenue!), but it is available for developers so you can pretty safety assume that Lync will get fully integrated! By integrating at the OS it’ll link with contacts and phone as if it was the native interface and will work with all Bluetooth attached devices etc.

Also the kernel of Windows Phone 8 is shared with Windows 8. Now it may be a while before law firms switch to desktop 8 but Legal IT firms that move their platforms to be Windows 8 compliant should find it much easier to leverage those apps in WP8 too. There will also be the ability to set up corporate app stores to manage the delivery of apps internally.

For consumers the Microsoft Phone Wallet sounds interesting, combining NFC technology (near field communication) and an account manager for credit cards, frequent flyer cards etc. Not sure of the benefits directly for Legal IT, but for a travelling lawyer maybe. Again these are available in the latest Android devices and rumoured to be in the next generation of Apple devices.

There is a “split” in the OS as you’re trusty “old” Lumia 800/900 look like they won’t get an 8 update, but MS will introduce a 7.8 release for older devices. There are few details yet, but it sounds like the kind of split iOS does with newer devices, ie you’ll get all the features that the old hardware can manage (ie you won’t get the higher res features as the older phones don’t have the display etc).

Whether we like it or not, in law firms Microsoft technology is king. And this won’t change anytime soon, much to the annoyance of those who still persist with the Microsoft is buggy/poor mantra. So if i was a betting man i would say the natural successor to RIM devices will be Windows Phone 8, but this will bring Android and iOS into the law firm more and more as the management of devices will be less linked to one device.


Jan 9 2012

And the gold medal goes to Windows Phone


The following was one of my 2012 predictions.

Windows Phone/Android/iPhone : Or more to the point, the death of the blackberry in Legal. After years of being the corporate tool of choice (remember when having a BB was a bit of a status symbol!!), RIM through major failure of service and also taking their eye off what they were really good at (email access) have gone the way of the fax machine. As for the replacement? Well the last two on the list are obvious, but I’m sticking my neck on the line and predicting the order as written! I’ll post up why I think this in an future post.

So Windows Phone as lead candidate to replace BlackBerry as the corporate smartphone of choice, am I mad?

Well no, I honestly think the new OS from Microsoft will make significant roads this year and shock the other two a little. Below are some of the reasons I think that it will position itself to be the enterprise device of choice:

  • Nokia – yes they may have fallen behind a little in recent years, but people still talk about them and they know how to build a phone. Regardless of the OS the new Lumia 800 is a extremely well built piece of kit! Plus they can market phones in a way that is second only to Apple.
  • Skype – sure this is available as an app for Android and the iPhone, but over the next year I expect to see closer integration with Windows Phone and more importantly closer integration with Lync. This will start to glue corporate telephony into Windows Phone and as Lync becomes the internal telephony platform of choice, Windows Phone becomes the natural choice for a law firms Unified Communications plan.
  • The enterprise marketplace – rumoured to be coming in the Apollo release of Windows Phone (due later in 2012) is the ability to create a private, secure private app marketplace. Allowing controlled distribution of applications to corporate devices or access to corporate applications to specific personal devices.
  • An obvious one, it’s Microsoft! And so is your corporate email (Exchange), your corporate intranet (SharePoint), your corporate engine room in legal (Office) and your corporate messaging/telephony (Lync). Do you not think they will all just work together seamlessly? Try using Windows Phone now with OneNote, SkyDrive and OneNote in Office 2010 to see how well this can work.
  • The original xbox case study – when the xbox was first released all the “gaming experts” said it was too late to the party and stood no chance against Sony and Nintendos offerings (PS2 and Gamecube). Ten years later and the xbox is THE games console and dominates the market. Sure Sony and Nintendo are still there with a healthy market share, but the 360 is the market leader. History has a tendency to repeat itself, what I saw in the original xbox I see now in Windows Phone.

And finally a bit of wild speculation?

Overall I don’t think Windows Phone will overtake Android or iPhone in market share in 2012, but I think by the end of the year it will be looking like a definite player in the market. And in the corporate world the knowledge and foothold that Microsoft has will give it prime position to take the crown from RIM.

Blackberry running Windows Phone OS?


Oct 12 2011



Well it’s been a bad few days for RIM this week (and I dare say a difficult time for a fair few IT depts in law firms as a result). And it looks like it isn’t just contained to EMEA either, reports suggest a spread to the US now.

A few things spring to mind off this:

1) It’s going to be one heck of a case study for IT service failure. From the technology that failed, the (lack of) disaster recovery and what resilience was built into a critical system through to studies into how not to manage an incident (the failure in communicating to customers etc). No matter how much redundancy you put in place we know things like this do happen in IT. But for your core product, in RIM’s case, there seems to have been no contingency (although in the aftermath this may end up being something truly unavoidable) and worse still no method of communicating good up to date information to the customer in place. It’s even worse when you consider the mainstream 24hr news services have been carrying the story and would have surely loved to broadcast comment and updates direct from RIM.

2) It’s a real kick in the teeth for cloud computing. Another provider (Office 365 outage, Amazon outage, Google Apps/Mail outage, Apple MobileMe outage) suffering a major outage and thus clients seeing service outages for their own customers.

3) In the corporate email and smartphone arena it’s a big bonus for Apple, Google and Microsoft. The other three key competitors in the smartphone arena. Also for services like Good Technologies who provide app based email solutions for enterprise.

RIM were on the back foot as it was, their main benefit over their rivals was enterprise strength email solutions (although personally I don’t buy into the whole BlackBerry is less of a risk that ActiveSync type technologies argument, but there you go). This reputation though has been dealt a big blow with this incident and they’re going to need some excellent PR work and customer deals to stop a desertion of the enterprise to rivals.

There are plenty of lawyers that use Apple or Android devices already (more so outside the UK), and now Windows Phone has a release that puts it on a par with the others. So at the moment it seems like RIM’s days are numbered.