Nokia Lumia 800 as a Remote Office

, posted: 16-Apr-2012 12:58

This is my first blog post for Telecom and Geekzone and I’m going to evaluate the new  Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone, on Telecom XT network, in my busy world. I hope to guide you to getting better value from your smart phone if you are a sole trader, small business exec or if you’re just busy enough to want a PA some days. 

In my previous post (Nokia Lumia 800 as a PA), I covered getting setup with a new smartphone for a busy person. Today, I have a look at how to spend more time with your customers and work remotely using just the phone and some low cost software. If you have less than 10 people in your organisation, you will save a lot of money working as described here. I am available to help your business setup and use the services described here.  

Small Business Offices of Today  
For many years, I have worked in some capacity where visits to small business offices were routine. In these kinds of organisations, spending money on current technology and working smarter, not harder, has traditionally been limited by software licensing fees and the like.  

In these cluttered environments, desk time is required daily and that also means less time on the road or on-site. For remote access to files and emails, I tried Microsoft Small Business Server, SMEServer and other home office based remote software always arriving at the conclusion that the Internet connection was too slow, in at least one direction, for remote access.

The only solution it seemed was to have the files on a higher speed network somewhere out there, on the Internet.  

Small Business Offices of the Future  
Many software companies offer software as a service (SaaS), over a secured Internet connection; pay per month, per user for example. An example of which is an Office365 account, from Microsoft. Each user account (on the Plan P1 subscription) gets 25GB of space made up of a mailbox, private and public website and some application rights for around NZ$10 a month. The only requirement being a domain name per organisation (as little as $10/year or it can co-exist with your current domain name).

The combination of applications on offer let most users do most things they usually do with Microsoft Office. The private website allows users to share and manage files, the mailbox has an instant messaging client, calendar and contact management and you can download discounted or free software or use the web applications. The web applications are versions of Microsoft Office applications that only need Internet Explorer to run. The public website is a simple, wizard driven template affair – enough to get your name and basic business details ‘out there’ - here is mine: - like I said, basic and functional.  

The big corporations have started to embrace this way of working because they can see the benefits quicker, small businesses will follow as demand brings the price down and they'll never look back to servers in broom cupboards. As this happens, the information everybody needs is available from anywhere to the right users whether they are suppliers, customers or staff.  

Nokia Lumia 800 and Office365
After the initial setup of the Office365 service, I found the Windows Phone ‘Office365’ app under applications, a free client. From the smartphone, access is granted to the same information as the office desktop: email, calendars, contacts, files and applications are easily avaialble.

The office work is synchronised immediately as the desktop computer optionally saves files directly to the private web site as much as the Nokia Lumia 800 does, which means everybody can see the same updated document, from anywhere a modern browser can run; like on the Nokia Lumia 800.  

Navigation of the Office365 application is easy with the quality of the Lumia 800’s screen. Due to the size of the on screen ‘keyboard’, though, I cannot edit a document easily, but I can definitely view any of my company’s saved documents in the most recent Microsoft Office formats. For documents that are not made with Microsoft products, PDF files for example, applications exist in the marketplace to support these formats. So far I have only needed an additional PDF reader, which is a free download and works without any problems.  

The Nokia Lumia 800 synchronises all contact information from the Office365 account and this is the same contact information the office desktop will have via the Office365 included Microsoft Outlook 2010 Client, which means contact details are always at hand and always current and most importantly, backed up by this replication. The same applies for email and calendar information; available anywhere and always replicated out.   

This 'always replicated out' also means that any newly acquired Windows smart phone or desktop can be setup in minimal time and have access to the most recent versions of any document, contact detail or calendar appointment once connected to Office365. This really pays off when setting up new workstations or replacing lost or broken smartphones.  

As a Remote Office  
The Nokia Lumia 800 and Office365 combination allows me to work from anywhere an Internet connection is available (the office WiFi or Telecom XT for example). And by work, I mean 

- contact anybody who knows somebody I know (via Office365, Facebook, Linked-In et al.) and see all their - most recent posts, details and social or professional inclinations prior to hitting dial,
- read emails and  view all the types of attachments I received over the trial period,
- view, organise, manage and make minor amendments to Micrososft Office documents,
- view, organise and manage other documents (like PDFs),
- view, organise, manage and make changes to calendars, task lists and contact details,
- get guided instructions to any address or location in the world (and make meetings on time).  

I found some Office365 limitations around document uploading and management which can be easily overcome with a SkyDrive account from Microsoft. This service is a free remote store, like DropBox, which has a native client on the Nokia Lumia 800 and a desktop client via web interface or mapped drive. I use this store for all non-work related content as I am the only person who has access to this facility. The tight integration allows for taking photos and havng them automatically upload, for example.    

In Summary  
Your small business will quickly become an agile player with this low cost, high tech way of working. This smart phone will allow you to look up old quotes, previous supply agreements and scanned invoices, for example, while on the road. Don't stop there, have a few basic powerpoint slides setup for any imprompt presentations or learn how to setup and use a SaaS applications like Psoda for project management on the go or Xero for billing from the road, for example.  

My next post will share my experiences of using the smartphone to better my interaction with my kids in an educational and fun way.  

Best Use Hints 
- Services like LinkedIn offer additional features at low monthly costs as do most SaaS providers if you feel you need more power or feature per dollar. 
- If you are having troubles, check you have good connections where you are or opt to 'offline' important documents for meetings that may be in areas of dodgy coverage.
- Encourage your clients and suppleirs to share your office wifi as much as you have access to theirs, they will gain from low cost, mobile productivity as much as you will.
- Most SaaS providers will give you a trial account for up to 30 days, take advantage of this to ensure the application works for you as much as you get the first month free.
- Keep a spare charger in your car, always.
- Practice presentations and 'rehearse' client meetings if you are going to use technology to present your product or self (but you know this already, right?).
- Compare network offerings prior to long term plan commitments to make sure you have coverage where you work - some mobile companies offer month to month plans, take advantage and trial the technology before committing.
- Compare your current data plan's actual use before switching or upgrading to a new plan.  

- Tidy seemless integration and easy to use basic office access.
- Most SaaS applications are low cost and well supported.
- Easily shaves an hour off most days, often more.
- Telecom's XT network is well suported in Hamilton and other big centres and the smartphone allows for offline files when working really remotely.  
- Some minor improvements in some applications could be rounded out in later patches but I was hunting for bugs and testing everything, something most users won't do or find.
- When using this type of feature set, battery life needs to be monitored and managed. 
- Screen may be too small to create or edit Office documents but is perfect for reading.  

Still worth 4.5/5.0 if I had a awesome-o-meter.

About the author:
Hi, my name is Gund Wehsling (gundar on Geekzone). I am a freelance ICT contractor in Hamilton. I also share the care of my two year old twins out of work hours and support local community groups with the little spare time I can find. I have had several smart phones over the years and find them to be very helpful when used as a business tool. My expectations of the Nokia Lumia 800 are high given the hype and fanfare that was the launch. In my blog posts I will share experiences using this mobile phone as a tool in a busy and demanding lifestyle. Meanwhile, if you need some experienced long or short term ICT help, my contact details are here:

Other related posts:
Kids and the Nokia Lumia 800
Nokia Lumia 800 Battery Issue
Nokia Lumia 800: People and Messaging hub

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Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

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