Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Today’s technology means that taking and storing pictures on a mobile is easy and convenient. But pictures are just as powerful in business as they are in bringing back memories of sun-filled holidays.   

We are working with businesses to create mobile applications that open up the power of pictures to commercial applications. 
Modern smartphones, such as Nokia’s Lumia range, can pack a lot onto a small screen thanks to an 800x480 resolution on even their modestly priced 520 phone.  That means a well-designed line of business application can display pictures, information from a database, and allow you to update information. And that’s just the taste of things to come, the Nokia Lumia 1520 has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. 

Despite their power, smartphones are not the same as desktops, and the way we work with them is different. We are often (but not always) on the go, so information needs to be accessible, easily understood and clear.  And for some businesses photos or other images are the perfect way to convey a lot of information – more than any amount of text could. 

The photos could be product shots, equipment from different angles, competitor’s products, diagrams, settings on equipment, etc.  The list is long – although we are so used to thinking “textually” in business, often the applications for photos are not obvious.  But there are business people out there determined to make work quicker, easier, and more accurate amongst their team.  And photos may be the answer.

Deep Zoom

Microsoft’s Deep Zoom technology makes adding pictures to mobile applications efficient.  The clever tiling technology, which is also used in applications such as Bing Maps, means you only download the level of detail you want to see at any one time.  So you can look at a number of thumbnail images, but only download the detail on the one you are interested in.  This is important on a bandwidth-dependent mobile device.  It also works seamlessly, so if you are in front of a customer or showing off a product, it looks good.

Microsoft’s Deep Zoom allows businesses to be more creative and thoughtful about their data.  You can store the big picture and the detail, downloading only what you need, when you need it.  Just as smartphones changed the way we use photos in our personal lives, so they are transforming the way we use images in business. 

The how and why is down to each individual business, and the rewards in terms of productivity and efficiency are there for the taking.  Research shows that 20-30% productivity gains are being reported by people using line of business mobile applications for their work.  Mobile computing is changing the way we do business, and the way we think about doing business.  So if you’ve not thought about using photos within the mobile business applications before, maybe now’s the time.        

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

6 Reasons Windows Phone Live Tiles are Good for Business

Windows Phone 8 uses “Live Tiles” instead of icons to find and start applications.  These tiles are multi-functional: they are a gateway into the application, and they provide key information without starting the app.  So all your important information is together and at a glance. 

As application developers we are always looking for features that help businesses be more productive, and help them sell more of their products and services.  Live Tiles are just that – programmable features that makes a custom business application more effective and easier to use.
Here are our top 6 reasons that businesses love Live Tiles:

1.   Focus on key indicators.  There is a huge amount of business data to look at, but often only one or two indicators are at the heart of an issue.  Live Tiles focus attention on what you really need to know. 

2.   Data at a glance.  You don’t have to start an application to see key data. Live Tiles give you information at a glance – without starting the application.  For example, the number of outstanding issues, or number of days before a product launch.  It’s fast, efficient, and powerful.  We check our phones frequently, so you don’t want to start an application to see the latest situation. Live tiles are immediate and ideal to snatch a quick look.

3.   Consistent behavior from desktop to smart phone. Live Tiles work in the same way on the desktop, laptop or smart phone.  That’s important to help people use applications easily, and to have office-based and field staff work in the same way. As computing is getting smaller, and more powerful, more of us will take advantage of being able to work wherever and however we want.  Providing a consistent user interface is part of that.

4.   Live Tiles use pictures.  It may be clich├ęd, but that doesn’t stop it being true: pictures really do communicate more than words.  They are big on impact, as well as being attractive. You can use Live Tile pictures to motivate, inform, and set the scene.   

5.   One size does not fit all. Live Tiles come in three different sizes.  If you’ve got a single KPI to display then the medium tile is most appropriate.  If you’ve got more information, such as text, a wide tile might be more appropriate.  The small tiles are used in the list of apps.  Also, tiles can be resized by the user which is rather a nice feature. 

6.   Visual control.  Live tiles become your mobile visual control and dashboard for key business processes, so problems cannot be hidden.  Systems can sometimes make problems more difficult to see, purely because there is so much data to look at.  Live Tiles help you isolate key indicators and ensure they are given prominence that no one can ignore. Used in the right way, Live Tiles go to the heart of business KPIs.

This is a powerful Windows Phone 8 feature that can be used to make business applications more relevant and immediate.  As Microsoft Partners we can help you make the most of the opportunities in Windows Phone and Live Tiles.  If you’d like to talk, contact me, Caroline Eveleigh at caroline@anatec.co.uk.  I’ll then check my Windows phone to see when we can talk!