The real meaning of "productivity"
For me, the key to keeping me as a customer isn't gadgets, or software. It's how you help me live my life. It's no coincidence that Microsoft's new message is around productivity -- giving you the tools you need to get the stuff you want to do done.
Microsoft's Office 365 has become a key component of my day-to-day work and personal life, together with consumer services like OneDrive. I don't need to worry where my files are, or whether I've patched the office mail server. It's an approach that's convinced me of the value of cloud services (whether they're Microsoft's, Google's, Amazon's, or Apple's). I can work anywhere: At my desk in my office, in the coffee shop down the road, or under the redwoods outside a friend's house in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Windows Phone links into that cloud of personal and work data, and acts as part of my personal workflow. I can triage mail while connected to the London Underground's WiFi network, check documents I've been sent, and even edit Excel spreadsheets. Detailed work gets handled on my other devices, but it's the phone that's the gatekeeper.
It's not just the ability to dip in and out of work that's happening elsewhere. It's also the ability to use my Lumia to start new work in the mobile version of OneNote, or to use its camera to quickly capture information that can be used elsewhere.
With OneNote notebooks in the cloud at the heart of how I work, it turns out that one of the most useful tools on Windows Phone is Office Lens, a quick way of taking photographs of slides and other presentation materials and dropping them into OneNote. Office Lens will reformat slides automatically, cropping out background and handling perspective adjustments -- as well as supporting OneNote's cloud-based optical character recognition.
Office Lens has become a key part of my workflow, as I use it to deliver images from presentations straight into an open notebook on a PC or tablet, so I can have them ready for annotations as I take notes in a meeting. A recent upgrade now lets me work with arbitrary notebooks, keeping those images away from the default OneNote notebook. It's easy to use, and the automatic image editing keeps me focused on what's being presented, and not on getting neatly formatted copies of slides into my notes.
The right tool
A phone has to be a tool, not a toy, and it has to be the right tool for you. They're personal devices, even if they're issued by an IT department. I have the advantage of being my own boss, and running my own Office 365 account, but I still set security policies and manage the devices and services I use -- after all, that device contains a lot of personal information that needs to be protected.
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