Feb 25 2014

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

Jason

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).

Share

Jan 28 2014

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

Jason

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.

 

Share

Sep 16 2013

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

Jason

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!

Share

Jul 23 2013

Bighand for Windows Phone 8

Jason

I tweeted about this last Friday but thought I would expand on that in a short blog post. All the naysayers can c0ntinue to knock Microsoft’s mobile platform, the refuseniks can refuse to educate themselves about the platform and confuse it with the old Windows Mobile platform. But it’s harder to keep this up as the Windows Phone ecosystem slowly chips away at the smartphone market, from taking the third spot from BlackBerry to overtaking the iPhone in emerging markets.

But it’s the emerging trend for key apps to appear on the platform for me that is the best sign of the platform being taken seriously. And the Legal IT space is a case in point as Bighand are about to release their mobile dictation product for Windows Phone 8.

It’s been redesigned to take advantage of the Windows Phone “Metro” interface. The app is designed to take your phone’s theme and match itself to it, both in style and colour scheme.

bighand1

All the key functions are available from the opening screen (as shown below) with record dictation as a wide tile at the very top.

bighand2Each of the tiles below (to show all dictations, unsent dictations etc) can be pinned to your home screen where each one would act as a live tile giving you instant updates as to how many dictations are at what stage.

Going into these tiles gives a very familiar look to a Windows Phone user, care has been taken throughout the app to ensure the user experience is close to what you would expect within the platform.

bighand3And the screen for dictating has been “flattened” to ensure it feels “Windows Phone” like.

bighand4bighand5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ability to attach photos to the dictation is added here as well, allowing you to take a snapshot of a receipt or note and send it with the dictation. The dictation can then be profiled if this is turned on within your Bighand set up, the dropdowns for these are pulled from the server.

bighand6

Overall this app is both great for Windows Phone and a great bonus for Bighand who now will support all four main mobile platforms!

 

Share

Jul 14 2012

A bit of weekend fun…

Jason

It’s the weekend so this is a quick post just to point out some great concept images over at Yanko Designs

BlackBerry Windows Phone

They’re from a designer called Michal Bonikowski and show how new BlackBerry’s could look running Windows Phone 8. If RIM manufactured a BlackBerry that looked like this I might even be interested!!

Share

Jun 22 2012

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

Jason

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.

Share

Apr 23 2012

Good, is it any good? Corporate email, personal devices

Jason

This last week Good for enterprise was released onto the Windows Phone 7 platform. As I’ve a Windows Phone device and we’ve had Good in place for email in our firm for a while (for those on iOS and Android at least), I decided to download the app and take it for a test drive.

So what were my thoughts?

First off for those unfamiliar with Good, it “is a suite of powerful mobile device management tools that bring military-grade security, end-to-end data loss prevention”. Basically for me as an end user, this means the firm can deliver my work email to my own personal device, knowing that its fully encrypted at all times and can be remotely removed if required. So from a control point of view, firms IT and risk depts don’t lose control of the data even though it’s not on a firms device.

And from an end user point of view, I do get access to all my work emails, contacts and calendar on my own personal device.

But…..

The downside for me was that I’d already experienced Exchange email being linked natively to a Windows Phone via Acticesync. And the experience of that from an end user point of view was SO much better. I have my phone setup with 3 personal email accounts already (don’t ask!!) and Windows Phone like most smartphones combines these into one set of contacts, one calendar and (if I want) one inbox. So using Activesync my work email just blended into this environment (I ended up keeping a separate inbox for email, but the joined calendar and contacts was perfect). All my world in one joined up interface. The Good experience wasn’t, well, as good!

At the end of the week I had an excellent twitter discussion with Simon Dandy, Jeffrey Brandt, Charles Christian and Ryan Alban about BYOD (bring your own device) and the balance between security and usability. We concluded “So it’s simple. All we need is a native interface, feature rich, data bifurcating Good on steroids :)”. Basically what you’d want is a separate store of data that’s encrypted (what Good does well) but delivered through the devices integrated native interface.

As I can’t utilise the Activesync option at work I’ve stuck with the Good app. And to be fair it does work well. I takes a while to get everything set up (on start up it has to synchronise the encrypted store with my inbox at work, which can take a while if I haven’t launched Good for some time), but once things are up and running it works as you’d expect any email/calendar app to work. But I can’t help feeling that the need to go into a separate app to look at my emails seems a bit clunky (I mean in Windows Phone I don’t even have to do that for Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, all this is integrated into the UI!). Overall it just isn’t quite as usable as having the emails pushed straight into the devices native email interface!

Share

Jan 9 2012

And the gold medal goes to Windows Phone

Jason

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?

Share

Oct 14 2011

Windows Phone 7 – You’ve just been Mango’d

Jason

This week I have managed to get the latest release of Windows Phone 7 on my HTC (codename Mango) and I have to say that yet again I’m impressed with the work Microsoft have done with this phone.

Below are some of the highlights in the basic release i.e. I’m not going to go into the Apps, just those features that are there as standard in the phone. After all every smartphone has plenty of downloadable apps and most of what you have on iPhone and Android is now (or is in the pipeline) for Windows Phone (so facebook, Sky News, Twitter, Foursquare are all there, Skype and Spotify are on there way etc)

I’m also trying to pick core phone features that may interest a lawyer (although they are useful functions for anyone really), but it means I’m not looking at Music, Video etc.

People hub

The key part of Windows Phone is how Microsoft have designed it from the ground up as a phone interface. So a lot of the design is around People, after all interacting with people is the primary function of a phone right? So they built the People hub, from the earliest versions of Windows Phone this held all your contacts and from each person you could interact with these contacts in all the ways you’d expect on a smartphone (email, text, phone etc). These contacts can be pulled from mulitple locations Exchange, Windows Live, Google, facebook etc and then deduplicated i.e. you can link together records for the same person, giving one contact record on the phone rather than one for facebook, one for linkedin etc. This data is kept in sync with the source “over the air”.

In Mango the set of sources got bigger. You can now link in Twitter, LinkedIn (excellent for lawyers, LinkedIn can really be your CRM system!) and from multiple Exchange accounts. So you get all your contacts collated in one place, and for a lawyer if the client updates his/her record in LinkedIn, the update is automatically made to the lawyers phone contact. As well as keeping information from these sources up to date you can also see real time information from contacts in the form of status updates from facebook, twitter, linkedin etc

What about the fact that you may therefore have hundreds of contacts pulled into your phone? Well you can then group contacts in the Mango release, so for example create a “Family” group. Then as well as easily finding your family you can also interact with the whole group. See all the collated updates for the group, text all the group etc. You can also filter your contacts by the source.

With all this being built into the phone (rather than multiple additional apps) everything is where you’d expect it to be. Wherever there is a contact you can interact with it as you’d expect.

Office

As you’d expect from a Microsoft product, Office has been available in Windows Phone 7 from the off. But the integration has now improved in Mango. Now Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint can all integrate with SkyDrive (Microsoft’s online storage), Office365 or your firms SharePoint environment. There are also a number of additions for Exchange users (Out of Office setting, search mail not on your phone but on the server).

Bing

Now Bing. Pre-Mango this was just a web search that was location aware. Now there’s “Vision” search where you can scan QR codes and translate text, basically point the camera at a QR code and it jumps to the relevant web page or point at a sign for example, it scans the text and translates it. Also is a Shazam like music search, not sure of a use for a lawyer other than say to cheat in the pub quiz! There’s also “Scout” which with a single press will provide “eat & drink” and “see & do” information for your location, useful for when room service again is too much to bear!

As well as using the camera to scan signs you can utilise for the obvious as well and with Mango you can share directly to twitter without an additional app (although this posts a link to a public skydrive area rather than use traditional services like twitpic or yfrog, a shame in my opinion), this joins the ability to share to facebook and the ability to automatically upload all photos taken straight to SkyDrive (no more needing to remember to sync or manually copy your photos off your phone).

Email/Calendar

Finally a few additions to the core parts of any smartphone. Email and Calendar.

In email you’ve three great additions:

Consolidated inbox – allowing you to merge multiple mailboxes (Exchange, Hotmail and Google for example) into one Mailbox on the phone. And it’s not an all or nothing, you could merge 2 personal accounts and keep your firm account separate for example.

Exchange – as you’d expect you can easily hook Windows Phone to Microsoft’s Exchange mail servers, but now with Mango you can sync to more than one.

Conversation View – I love this in Outlook 2010 and now it’s available on Windows Phone thanks to Mango.

In the calendar you can add multiple calendars into one phone calendar. Colour coding appointments so you can see at a glance which calendar they’re from. Previously missing Tasks from Exchange are now available in Mango.

And all this synchronisation is over the air, there’s no need to hook your phone up to a computer to do any of this with Windows Phone (the same goes for pretty much everything, including over WiFi sync with music from your music library).

Finally you have the addition of instant messaging, not a separate app but fully integrated into the messaging (text) area. Keeping the theme in Windows Phone of integrating features in all the right places. So if you’re chatting with someone on facebook and they log off, when they continue talking via text you can still see their facebook responses in the same conversation thread. You can fire off an instant message from your contacts (either Microsoft Live or facebook).

Internet Explorer 9

With Mango comes Internet Explorer 9 giving full support of HTML5, CSS3, SV, XHTML, DOM apparently. Plus a faster JavaScript engine and hardware-accelerated graphics that use the phone’s built-in GPU when rendering HTML5 animation or video.

 

Summary

This is not the Windows Mobile of old. If your experience of Windows Phone was from a couple of years or more ago in it’s Windows Mobile 6, 5 or even 2003 guise then you’ll be very surprised. Windows Phone 7 has been built from scratch and bears absolutely no DNA of that old system.

It’s hard to compare Windows Phone over Android and iPhone, they all do some things better than each other. It’s true iPhone and Android have more apps available (but who’s going to use more than the 30,000 apps currently available for Windows Phone, never mind the 400,000 or whatever that the iPhone now has!). But the key differentiators for Windows Phone is it’s design from the off, the integration of social networking, email and text into the core phone OS.

I’m a big fan of Windows Phone 7. But I hope neither Google, Apple or Microsoft “win” this war, keep the competition of three heavyweight in the mix and the customer will benefit from constant innovation!

 

Finally if all you heard about Windows Phone was that cut ‘n’ paste wasn’t available, well that was provided some time ago with the previous release (codename NoDo)! And for those in the UK of a certain age who recognise the inspiration for the title of this post, here you go: You’ve been tango’d (YouTube)!

Share

Oct 12 2011

RIP RIM

Jason

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.

Share