Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Is Windows Phone 8 poised and ready for business?

After being an avid iPhone fan for the past four years, last week I bid farewell to my 4GS and said hello to my Windows Phone 8 powered Nokia Lumia 920. But in under four days of becoming acquainted with my new device, I realised I could never go back to an iOS 6 powered iPhone.

Boredom with the user interface and its matrix of apps drove my departure from the fruit-based brand, compounded by a desire for something fresh enough to keep my attention for the next two years, not to mention that the 920 has a functioning map application.
The Nokia coupled with the Windows 8 operating system is a highly capable device and is in my opinion the most innovative smartphone on the consumer market today. But what do Windows Phone 8 devices offer to business users, are Microsoft and its smartphone partner, Nokia, up to the task?

The Windows Phone 8 business offering

Exchange Server and Office 365
As you would expect, the WP8 operating system connects seamlessly and quickly into your corporate exchange server and Office 365. Not only does it offer full email, contacts and calendar support, but the exchange server also enables remote policy settings management, including password policy, device encryption and remote wipe. The WP8 email client also supports digital rights management (DRM) policies to prevent sensitive emails being forwarded, among other possible commands.

Microsoft Office Hub
WP8 introduces the Office Hub, which incorporates Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, making finding and accessing your personal and work documents on SkyDrive, Office 365 or SharePoint, intuitive and effortless. Office content is optimally adjusted for WP8, not only making viewing a pleasant experience, but also allowing for simple edits to be made with ease.

Company Hub
This distinctive new feature enables businesses to create a customised secure zone containing company-specific apps and disseminate information to the workforce. The Company Hub offers support throughout day-to-day activities, and can incorporate business-centric content like private business applications, intranet based information and a recommended list of approved mobile applications to help employees use the right productivity tools.

Businesses are put right at the helm of the Company Hub, with total control over setting security policies. This might be requiring a certain length and complexity of password, device encryption, the ability to remotely disable the phone storage card or reset the phone to its original state.

Nokia Lumia 820 & 920
We get excited whenever a new mobile device comes to market, but the two Nokia Lumias have made a bigger splash than normal here at TBS - not least because their slick performance and high screen quality means our native TaskMaster smart client runs super-fast and looks stunning.

Nokia Drive
Both devices come equipped with innovative turn-by-turn sat nav, Nokia Drive, which does not require a wireless connection to function - a major USP in the consumer and business markets. Map data for 90 countries is downloaded onto the device for free, which also provides speed camera and speed limit warnings.

TaskMaster adds a further dimension to the sat-nav user experience; automatically uploading addresses, bypassing the need for manual input. Not only does this eliminate error, but it also saves masses of time and ultimately promotes safer driving practices.

Near Field Communications (NFC)
NFC is familiar territory for TaskMaster, which already harnesses it in a wealth of diverse business scenarios. So the fact that the two Nokia Lumia devices have this dexterous technology in-built is a much welcome addition.

TaskMaster takes advantage of the secure, fast transmission of data between devices facilitated by NFC technology. This boosts the efficiency and scope of a range of business tasks, such as ticketing and transportation (micro-payments); barcode substitute and enhancement; time and attendance; health and safety compliance; general process adherence and asset record storage and communication.

This is the jewel in the Lumia 920 crown. PureView camera technology incorporates Optical Image Stabilisation and a Carl Zeiss lens, combined to capture high-quality photographs, blur-free and bright – even in poorly-lit spaces. For me, no other smartphone comes close to the picture quality offered by PureView.

In business, photography is often the only practical method of capturing certain information, such as damage to vehicles or graffiti on walls; for example. It is also an intrinsic part of the TaskMaster platform and PureView will dramatically enhance this vital function.

Ultra sensitive rugged touchscreen
Both Nokia models come with innovative ultra sensitive touchscreens that can be viewed in bright sunlight and used whilst wearing a glove. This feature is invaluable on a cold day or when wearing personal protective equipment.

Not only do the screens boast Gorilla Glass 2 from Corning, but also a polycarbonate casing, making for an extremely durable device capable of withstanding harsh treatment and the occasional drop.
For extra protection the 820’s cover can be replaced with a rugged shell case. This robust mixture of features coupled with TaskMaster capabilities makes this the ideal smartphone for use in heavy duty fieldworker scenarios.
The perfect package
Unlike like its rivals, the new WP8 operating system is designed to be business-aware, positioning it as a serious contender in the corporate smartphone stakes.
Its intuitive assimilation of office content coupled with the compelling features offered by the Lumia devices, such as Nokia Drive, NFC, PureView and the ultra sensitive rugged touch screen, make this combined proposition for business users difficult to beat. Introduce TaskMaster to the mix and businesses will be in possession of a winning mobile technology formula.

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