Choose a Device for your small business

Hear from small business owner Niall Milner, on how he chose the right device to keep him productive.

“Honestly, my work efficiency has skyrocketed.”

Niall Milner, Director, Davidson & Robertson Rural.

I always believed that I needed a variety of devices to meet my different needs at work, at home and on the move. I’m a Director at a Scottish firm of independent Rural Property Consultants and Chartered Surveyors. No two days are the same for me, I am equally in and out of the office, sometimes in remote rural locations, often with clients. Like many people, I like to be able to work from home and feel productive on the move. So, I carried a phone, laptop, tablet and good old fashioned notepad and pen with me at all times because different meetings, locations and environments required me to have all four to hand.

So, when I heard about the launch of the Surface Pro 3 my interest was piqued. I was familiar with the original Surface RT but this new version promised so much more. But could it really perform as a laptop and tablet without compromise? Compared to other tablets on the market, the price initially seemed high.

Six weeks ago I was given the opportunity to find out for myself. Since then how I work, interact, communicate and run my life has changed beyond recognition.

Changing the way you work

My laptop, tablet and notebook were resigned for this one device. A laptop bag, weighed down with cables and peripherals has been replaced by a small, lightweight leather wallet housing the Surface Pro 3.

I initially had some concerns about the screen size, after all I had relied on my laptop for such a long time and I was nervous about committing to make a permanent swap. However, those concerns dissolved immediately; it’s perfect for desk work but if you want to project larger, the handy USB connection lets you do that as well. The screen quality is pin-sharp making other devices look dirty in comparison, and the pen has really changed the way I work. Completely intuitive, I use it whenever possible with OneNote – Microsoft’s collaborative note taking tool

- and other Office apps which recognise it by default. Very quickly simple meeting notes have blossomed into sections and shared notebooks.

Honestly, my work efficiency has skyrocketed. When talking with a client on the phone the other day, he remembered some additional land transaction details. I was able to open Bing maps, find the location, expand and ‘screen grab’ by touch, drop it into OneNote, add pen comments and share it with him for completeness – in less than a minute. Pretty amazing if you ask me! This is indicative of how the Surface Pro 3 will change the way you work. And this intuitive efficiency adds up to much bigger gains.

Personal to me in every way

The degree to which you can personalise the look and feel of the Surface, and how you use it, really surprised me, and that has been a large factor in how naturally I have adopted it.

The Windows start menu is a great way to group things together that I use often. All the apps I need for work are on the left hand side and those I need recreationally on the right. I’ve converted the websites I visit often into additional live tiles. I love SharePoint – Microsoft’s collaboration tool – and use it extensively with colleagues for document storage and sharing. I use this together with OneDrive for Business for personal material, and I have shared OneDrive folders with local clubs and associations – all are right there as tiles on my start screen, so I can find what I need quickly and easily.

I have to admit, touch screen was not a big priority for me – I had always used a keyboard and mouse! However, touch, type, mouse and pen blend seamlessly. When working at my desk I often combine touch and keyboard, but out and about I use the pen and track pad. The Surface is immediately intuitive and supports every way I want to work. I now couldn’t imagine not having the ability to touch!

Home and work in harmony

My Surface Pro 3 doesn’t get shut down when I finish work; it seamlessly transitions into my home life. As soon as work is finished and I’m browsing the internet or playing a game, the keyboard comes straight off and I’m back in touch screen mode. Watching films or videos, I simply adjust the kickstand to find the right screen angle I need and it’s a perfect size to fit neatly on my lap. It’s always on, doesn’t need to boot up, so I’m immediately where I left off.

It also makes it so much easier to keep in touch and maintain good communication in and out of work. My children now use it Skype their

grandparents in Devon at the weekends. This gives them the chance to have a very connected relationship with their extended family that just wasn’t possible for my generation. It brings people together in a very real sense. And these little features and functions really increase the positive experience.

The top 3 things that will amaze you about Surface Pro 3

Working with the Surface Pro 3 has been a revelation and the most surprising aspect for me is just how readily I left behind my old ways of getting things done. So what are the top three things that I think will amaze you?

** It really is an fully fledged PC – there is nothing to stop me using it in the same way I would have used a windows laptop but it also gives me so much more

** The Pen – the Surface Pro 3 pen gives you a whole new dimension for capturing notes and writing on any document type that comes your way, including PDFs

** It is unbelievably neat and small – the size belies the power of the machine, and it is immensely portable, adaptable and lightweight for working anywhere.

So to go back to my initial questions, could it replace all my other devices? The answer is yes! Is it good value for money? Compared to buying two devices if not more, then yes it really is. The Surface Pro 3 has given me a host of new possibilities; I couldn’t go back.

Niall Milner is a Director at Davidson & Robertson Rural and a RICS Registered Valuer. Niall’s role involves varied work including traditional Estate Management, Valuation work, Renewables and Compensation work advising farmers affected by Infrastructure Schemes including Water, Gas, Electricity and Transport schemes