Cabinet Office completes trial of Google Apps, Evernote, Libre Office, Android and iOS devices

By Sooraj Shah
10 Mar 2014 View Comments
The Cabinet Office in London

The Cabinet Office has completed its trial of consumer laptops, tablets, collaboration software and Wi-Fi access.

The users gave regular feedback on how the new tools affected their day-to-day working, and in a blog post, the Cabinet Office said this would feed into the solutions it will take forward.

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Lightweight laptops and tablets; Google Apps for mail, calendar, document creation and collaboration; Evernote for notetaking; and Libre Office for offline document creation were all trialled.

The Cabinet Office also introduced a "lightweight secure layer" device management solution, portable 4G Wi-Fi and printers on a trial basis.

Civil servant Will van Rensberg said that the solutions had been welcomed by staff, and that users were "extremely reluctant" to return equipment.

"Some of the clearest evidence of the difference the technology made came when we asked for the kit back - without exception, every team on the trial asked to keep the equipment beyond the trial end date," he claimed.

Rensberg stated that participants were able to easily start using the real-time document editing functionality in Google Docs, and that being able to work on the document resulted in "higher quality output, achieved faster". However, when the users wanted to collaborate with people outside of the trials, they weren't able to.

"This highlighted the need to make sure the applications and file formats work together," he said.

Although Google Docs was well received, Rensberg said that many users did not see it as a replacement for the products they are used to.

The iPad and Android tablet devices trialled were generally popular, but employees questioned whether the devices would actually help them work, because they either weren't mobile workers or they rely heavily on their existing laptops, which provided additional functionality that the tablet couldn't match.

The staff were given devices prior to training sessions, and the Cabinet Office also had a drop-in desk for further support. However, Rensberg said that very few people came along to the drop-in desk and in response the team started doing "floorwalks" where they would visit the areas the trial teams were located and ask if anyone needed helped.

Overall, Rensberg said that the Cabinet Office was happy with what it had achieved during the trials.

"The uptake we've seen and the feedback we've received has been really encouraging. We'll take all of this forward to shape how and what we roll out," he said.

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