Monday, May 17, 2010

The iPhone and the Large Law Firm

Warning - this post contains some of my thoughts about iPhone use at a large law firm from my perspective of an iPhone user who works in a law firm IT department. I have no practical experience with any level of iPhone integration in a large law firm.

Unfortunately, when one talks about things that law firms are commonly doing, it frequently doesn't include the largest firms. What works for most law firms may not work for one of the biggest. Yet there are some things that are common to most decent-sized firms. In large law firm IT departments, iPhones are very common, though probably not as prevalent as the officially supported (and subsidized) Blackberry. I know there has been some work by vendors to provide the necessary hooks to do some cool things with iPhones in large enterprises. It was encouraging to see this, especially since it included SharePoint integration.

To me it seems like Apple's misses the mark. I'm not sure how all large enterprises work, but I think most of them have no interest in providing the kind of support this manual suggests. I think they would prefer to carefully allow access to things like email, SharePoint or a Citrix Desktop from employee owned phones rather than owning and babysitting the entire operation. Coordinating phones from different carriers all over the world is much better pushed back to the individual (at least organizationally).

Various strata of integration could strengthen iPhone support in larger, more secure enterprises. Of course it starts with email, Lotus Notes integration being of interest to me. Sybase iAnywhere, IBM's iNotes, Notes Pro and maybe a couple other apps provide Notes email to iPhones. Mail should always work fine in this form factor, you just need to make the necessary security hops. There are a few others vendors that do some Notes database replication as well, but I don't see that as a strong draw since Notes has been dying as an application platform. Secure access to SharePoint servers providing mobile-optimized web pages could be useful, and fairly easy to establish. Attending meetings through a mobile device is a natural. A Citrix desktop might also be OK, but have you ever tried operating a desktop on a little touch screen? It's not a very useful capability.

Having a resourceful, always connected computer in my pocket has been great, and I don't expect to ever again be without such service. Integrating this level of mobile functionality into large enterprise will take some time and effort and I look forward to it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Customizing SharePoint RSS Web Part

I will be brief, because this is pretty simple and obvious. I have my favorite reader (Google on my iPhone) and the RSS web part sometimes seems crude, but it is sometimes very useful when a site really is crying for relevant news.

Don't be afraid to mess with the XSL Editor. Just copy the contents into Notepad - that's your backup. Now start hacking away. If something goes bad, paste back in your backup.

You want to remove the titles? Just snip out the whole node: div class="groupheader item medium."

So have at it!