Mixing business with pleasure thanks to my Windows Phone
Being an IT Executive usually means occasional travel. I chronicled a recent business trip I took to Las Vegas with only my Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone. It was actually my first such travel with it so I thought it would be interesting to document and share my experiences with Windows Phone and Nokia’s flagship hardware since it has become my primary mobile device.
I focused on the 1st party apps and services from Microsoft and Nokia. My goal here is to highlight that despite Windows Phone’s lack of apps, I still consider the Lumia 920 a best in breed smartphone that *SPOILER ALERT* made an excellent travel companion for both business and pleasure.
As I mentioned, I was in Las Vegas for the day scouting out datacenters for the company I work for. Since it was a quick turnaround, I didn’t pack my laptop or iPad for that matter, just my Windows Phone. I thought this would be the perfect time to put it through it’s paces. Without further ado….
I won’t spend too much too much on email and calendar. Every smartphone does a serviceable job of push messaging. And the Lumia 920 is no exception. Being that we are a Microsoft back end, the native Exchange connectivity works well as you would expect.
SharePoint is Microsoft’s file sharing and collaboration platform. It makes it easy to view, edit and update all types on MS Office files right on the fly. So if I need to give an approval for a change made on one of our operation logs for instance, I can quickly view the file and if necessary, make any changes I need and save right back up to our shared team document library. My team then gets pinged that I made changes and it’s all set. It’s that simple.
If I need to send a fast FYI, I can go into Lync, our corporate IM system which is also native on Windows Phone. I can see who on my team is available and in turn, they know I am reachable as well even though I am out on the road. But back to my FYI, I can see if the person who is waiting on me is online and if they are, I just send a message with the update I made.
On my trip, I was scouting and evaluating various datacenters in the Las Vegas area. I had done research and reached out various points of contact via email and phone. Rather than try to organize all of this in my email, which I find counter productive, I used a much better solution: One Note!
One Note is Microsoft’s version of a digital notebook. I am a recent convert to it and it has become an indispensable tool I use daily. Similar to something like Evernote, it is a way to take free notes, emails, web pages, almost anything you can type, copy, paste, speak, and compile and categorize it into notebooks, tabs, pages, etc. Much like you would do in an ‘analog’ notebook. The One Note desktop program is a part of Microsoft Office, so there is a lot of integration across the suite. In the case of my datacenter trip, I would take the prospects that emailed me and after I made arrangements to visit them, I would send the emails over to One Note, a 1 click process from Outlook, my default email program. The true power of One Note is when you have your notebooks in SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service and yet another baked in Windows Phone goodie. Once in SkyDrive, you can access and sync all of your notes across any myriad of computers, phones, tablets, you name it. You can also share your notes if you need to.
For my trip, I had proposals, contact phone numbers, and addresses all in the One Note library I created for my trip. I even added notes from my visit to each site right from my phone. When I was back in the office, I could open up One Note from my laptop and organize and edit further if I needed to. Since I sync to SkyDrive, the changes were already on my screen. In the short time I have used One Note, it has quickly become a big part of my personal workflow. It really has gone a long way towards keeping me organized and not having to wade and plow through piles of email, a welcome time saver.
While in Vegas, I was driving around from place to place. Though I’ve been there lots of times, I don’t claim to know it like the back of my hand, far from it. This is where my Lumia 920 and Nokia Drive shined bright!
This was the 1st time having to use Nokia Drive extensively and it did not steer me wrong once (no pun intended). It’s fast, current, accurate, and keeps you up to date on traffic and other real time info along the way. It’s as good as Google Maps, no hyperbole. And yes Google does have an advantage when it comes to how Maps ties into Google Now and contextual directions. But for everything else, Nokia provides an outstanding GPS and mapping experience.
Work hard Play hard
With my datacenter visits complete and some time to kill before my flight home, I had some time to find a gym and get a good workout in. Hitting the gym is my therapy, it helps me clear my mind and refocus after a long day. I’m always trying new workout routines and eating regimens. I keep my workout plans on SkyDrive, that way I can access it anywhere as I mentioned before with One Note. Since I have 25GB of storage on SkyDrive, I am moving more and more documents and other personal data to it. It is also where the photos and videos I take with my Lumia 920 get auto uploaded to. So now I know what workout to tackle, it’s time to play my workout tunes!
My workout was complete and it was time for some dinner before heading to the airport. It was then that I discovered the power of Bing and XBox Music. As I got in the car and turned it on, there was a song on the radio that I liked. I hit the search button on my Lumia, which opens up Bing. Besides search, there is also a Music button. This works just like Shazam, but it’s baked into Windows Phone, which is important to how this played out. Once I tapped Music, I held the phone by the speaker so it would tell me what song was playing. When it returned the result, it not only showed me artist and title, it also gives me the option to open up the XBox Music store. The beauty of this was because I have XBox Music Pass, Microsoft’s all you can eat music service, rather than give me the option to buy, I had access to download the entire album (EP) onto my phone.
Wrap your head around that for a second. This seamless sequence of events is ONLY possible on Windows Phone. As in on iOS and Android, you need 3rd party apps to make it happen. Neither offer a streaming/download service. And despite Google’s power in search, they can’t offer music discovery without an app like Shazam. So on an iPhone, I would open Shazam, it would give me song artist and title, and then an iTunes link to BUY the song or album. I would then go into iTunes. Same on Android. This example exemplifies Microsoft’s approach. Apps are important, in today’s mobile landscape they make or break your platform (ex. WebOS). And while Windows Phone still needs the top apps like Instagram and Flipboard to be a strong and relevant mobile player, what they can already deliver with the ecosystem and services already at their disposal sets them apart, and impressively in my opinion. With Windows Phone, Microsoft has deemphasized apps and has concentrated more on a comprehensive 1st party experience without the need to pop in and out of app after app. From the built in Facebook and Twitter integration, to the Office Hub, Windows Phone brings a lot to the party without the need for a 3rd party. That fluid functionality is what sold me on it from day 1.
Now it was time to fly back to LA with my newly acquired music. Once I got home, I put my Lumia on its charging stand (wirelessly) and declared it a successful business trip. And thanks to my Windows Phone, I didn’t skip a beat.