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BEIS CDIO Karl Hoods on accelerating Microsoft Teams rollout during coronavirus crisis

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) chief digital and information officer, Karl Hoods, has revealed how the organisation was forced to rapidly accelerate its adoption of Microsoft Teams in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The Whitehall department had originally planned to roll out the collaboration software to its 4,500 users over a number of months, with several weeks of training sessions to support the transition.

Instead, the software was deployed over the course of just 48 hours, as Hoods told NS Tech during last week’s Virtual CIO Symposium, a gathering of senior business and technology executives hosted by NS Tech, CBR and the New Statesman.

“From a technical perspective we can push and roll out software deployments fairly easily so we’d done the testing our side and we knew what was required,” said Hoods.

“The hesitance was around cultural change, so how would people adapt to it and use it when ordinarily we’d probably spend a good three to six months in training courses, comms and roll out. Whereas, really overnight everybody had no choice but to use it, so now a number of weeks on, seeing the way people are using it is fantastic.

“I don’t think we could have had such a success if it hadn’t been for the current situation. We would probably have approached it from that slightly more traditional way. That was really encouraging to see ExCo [executive committee] holding their meetings on there and our project investment committee using that and collaborating with other government departments.

Hoods estimates that the department is six months ahead of where it had expected to be at this stage of the deployment.

You can see the full video interview with Karl Hoods, as well as interviews with the CIOs of Sainsbury’s, the British Red Cross and SSE Energy Services here.