Over the last 18 months, organisations all over the world have been forced to embrace digital transformation to allow remote and hybrid working from anywhere as the world tried to navigate the covid-19 pandemic. When we take a look back at some of the solutions that were implemented as part of the rush to work from home, it’s clear that not all of these are sustainable or come with the relevant security required for a truly robust hybrid workplace of the future.

As businesses and office spaces start to fill with people once more, we’ve seen a mindset shift, with digital transformation at the fore. In our latest tech news round-up, we share some of the stories that have caught our eye over the last few months.

The shift from cloud-first to cloud-everywhere

Recent advancements in 5G and connectivity are now creating huge quantities of data, and according to Forbes, this decade will see the concentration of three key digital trends – universal cloud adoption, empowering AI to simplify data analysis, and using data everywhere. Here at Vapour, we agree that we’ve moved past ‘cloud-first’ – the cloud is everywhere and for most organisations, it’s no longer a decision of whether to adopt it, but rather which solutions work best.

Continuing the theme of ‘cloud-everywhere’, you would be wrong to think that only large organisations can benefit from a cloud infrastructure. Even start-up businesses are reaping the rewards, and maximising the ability to grow, innovate, and be agile and flexible in the market. In a recent article from Tech Radar, they share why the scalability and security of cloud technology is perfect for ambitious, tenacious start-ups.

Ensuring cybersecurity as staff return from home

As offices regain their buzz, and colleagues return from over 18 months of using kitchen tables and spare bedrooms as workspace, we face a new challenge of cybersecurity as employees continue to use their own devices. A recent article from Raconteur focuses on what organisations should consider when handling the return to work – navigating the use of ‘dodgy devices’, and the end of make-do solutions. 

The role of people and processes in digital transformation

As automation and digital transformation projects becoming top of the company agenda – whether that be to drive business growth, streamline operations, or inspire innovation – its success relies on achieving the perfect balance of ‘people power’ and digital solutions. Our head of transformation, Carol McGrotty shared her tips and tricks on how to engage with your teams from the outset in this recent article on our ‘Knowledge’ page.

New tech incoming…

We’ve all heard about wearable tech, but something new that caught our eye recently is the idea of ‘Hearables’. According to The Conversation, they aren’t hearing aids, ear plugs, or even headsets, but instead could become the next always-on personal assistant that nestles into the ear with inbuilt artificial intelligence. The theory is that these will be great in the education sector, ‘empowering users to search for and access instructions while they are hands-on’. Here at Vapour, we’re looking forward to seeing where this new technology could make an impact.

Want to hear more on the latest in emerging tech? Our CEO, Tim Mercer is taking to the stage at Technology Live this month (28th September), as part of a panel discussion event that will see providers from the cloud, MPS, voice, SaaS, storage, UC, security, and AI worlds come together.

Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer will take to the stage later this month, as he heads to Technology Live in London.

The one-day channel partner event will see providers from the cloud, MPS, voice, SaaS, storage, UC, security, and AI worlds – among others – gather to discuss emerging tech and opportunities.

And Tim has been invited to the Business Design Centre as a panellist on the ‘Making a Success of Diversification’ debate.

As the Technology Live programme highlights, technology convergence, changing customer requirements, and competitive pressures, have all made diversification possible and desirable, but what is the best approach?

This is exactly what the speakers will explore on the day (28 September).

Tim will therefore share his personal opinions and experiences from the helm of Vapour, as the discussion unfolds.

Elaborating on the session topic, he said: “As a business, we’ve been very open about the role of channel collaboration, as our company’s journey has unfolded. There’s usually very little value in being a ‘jack of all trades’, but when the expertise of true specialists comes together, the result is often a very powerful solution for the customer.”

“There are challenges with this approach of course, not least sourcing best of breed partners who will commit to the same standards as you,” he added. “As we’ve diversified Vapour’s offering over the years, we’ve therefore thought carefully about who we partner with and when, and we’ve evolved many of our own capabilities too, to deliver end-to-end support and plug any market gaps that may otherwise leave a customer exposed.

“This has naturally made us more resilient as a business too – if we’d stuck with the delivery of cloud voice, networks and storage alone, for instance, we wouldn’t be having half the conversations we’re currently having with progressive organisations keen to futureproof themselves in the evolving world of hybrid working. Technology is an enabler after all, but it is up to providers to showcase what it’s really capable of.”

Technology Live is free to attend but pre-registration is advised: https://technologylive.co.uk/register


Allvotec – an ICT specialist for major service providers – has partnered with disruptive cloud specialist Vapour, to bolster its Unified Communications portfolio.

The 30-year-old organisation empowers more than 200 partners to drive the digital transformation and growth of their public and private customers. And as the market’s retirement of legacy systems continues at pace, in favour of next generation, cloud-based UC adoption, Allvotec sought to collaborate with a true UC specialist to accelerate its innovation roadmap.

Vapour has therefore been appointed as a select partner for Avaya projects with <250 users. The Vapour Subscription Service (VSS) means Allvotec can securely deliver enterprise-grade UC services via Vapour’s private network infrastructure, with an end-to-end service wrap, complete with SIP if required. But the customer relationship and contract remain with them.

Commenting on appointing Vapour, Allvotec’s CEO Dave Gardner said: “For three decades, we’ve delivered, supported and maintained tech solutions that enhance customers’ communications, collaboration and productivity, via a partner-exclusive business model. We only collaborate with true experts who are as confident and experienced in their respective fields, as we are.

We’re forecasting a big growth over the next 12 months, as organisations’ digital transformation projects continue at pace. Vapour will now play a key part in accelerating our ability to innovate, and deliver successful UC solutions which are agile, robust and compliant.”

Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer added: “Today’s UC offerings don’t always meet the needs of partners and their end users. However, with businesses demanding better quality cloud voice solutions than ever before, this is a great opportunity for a ‘Vapour x Allvotec’ collaboration to drive change in the market. Together, we can deliver enterprise-grade Avaya tools to Allvotec’s customers, while they retain complete control of the relationships they’ve built over the years.”

Vapour has been one of Avaya’s fastest growing mid-market cloud voice partners in the UK, since 2018. Originally specialising in secure cloud voice, video, networks and storage, the eight-year-old business revealed a new tech toolkit at the turn of 2021, which now includes SD-WAN solutions, a Technology as a Service offering, TeamsLink integration to supercharge customers’ MS Teams capabilities, and more.

It’s Debbie's turn in the spotlight this month. Having recently returned to the tech sector after a break, she’s keen to change the number of complex jargon and acronyms that make our world a daunting and sometimes inaccessible industry. With a keen interest in new innovations and how things work, the self-confessed music lover has a new ‘Sonos’ speaker on her tech wishlist, claiming it provides a more immersive experience that can’t be beaten!

Debbie, your 60 seconds start now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Back in 2003, I started working as a customer service advisor for a local cable TV company. As the company progressed and tech developed mainly around customer relations, retentions and customer experience, my roles adapted to suit, and I was able to become more exposed to the world of technology. I’ve always had a keen interest in technical developments and love to know how things work.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

Back before vinyl came back into fashion, I had a stereo with a turntable and cassette deck – I must have been around 10 at the time! I didn’t have any cassettes though, so I’m glad to see they’re making a comeback.

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Passion for what you’re delivering, believing in the products and service you provide, and having the confidence to push to get the right results. At Vapour, we strive to overachieve on customers’ expectations, and I think that’s such an important quality.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

Acronyms – the number of acronyms has increased exponentially, and having recently returned to the tech sector, Even I have had a lot to catch up on!

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

The staff and our passion for everything Vapour is trying to achieve. We see outside the box to ensure customers get the right solution. We aren’t afraid to ask ‘why’.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...computers. They changed the world from getting cash out of a hole in the wall in the 70s to advancements in medicine and manufacturing

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a Sonos Sub! I love music, and Sonos has thought of everything for music lovers. They’re able to make the experience totally immersive.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...  Amazon, if we can class them as a tech firm – they’ve been a godsend this past 12 months.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...you have to be a ‘techy’ to understand technology!

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...agile. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, and it’s no longer enough to just continue with the same digital structure that once existed. People are going to demand more flexibility and agility – which is where we come in.

Next up, we’ll be featuring service desk lead, Adam Greenhalgh, so keep your eyes peeled in October!

The second quarter of 2021 has flown by quicker than the first, and so much has happened here at Vapour, including some new appointments and an office move over to Lindley in the heart of Huddersfield. Let’s look back at our media highlights from the last three months – click the links throughout to enjoy our coverage.

The launch of our Technology as a Service offering

In June, we launched our TaaS offering, supporting customers with the consistent delivery of high-performance technology, applications, and endpoint security, with proactive device imaging for a seamless user experience. Not only that, but with environmental pressures mounting, we predict the compliant handling of redundant kit will prove particularly popular. With hybrid working set to continue, these solutions can be tailored to customers’ individual requirements with an affordable fixed price per user, which makes a really exciting and flexible service.

Vapour continues to grow with 5 new recruits

Over the last few months, we’ve had some fabulous people join our straight-talking Yorkshire tech team. Our ‘Five key recruits’ announcement was picked up across the press as we continue to progress towards our £7m growth targets. We’re as known for our team as we are for our toolkit, so these five hires have been made at pace, but with extreme precision, as we work hard to hand-select talented individuals. Read the full story over at UK Tech News.

Kicking off fundraising initiatives for Borne

We’ve set our sights on our boldest fundraising target yet, aiming to raise a staggering £23,000 for the charity committed to preventing premature birth – Borne. One of the first fundraising quests comes from CEO Tim Mercer, who has pledged to donate up to 24 days of his time to deliver digital transformation sessions for organisations large and small. We have a whole year to raise money for this fantastic charity, so be sure to follow our journey.

Inspiring women in tech

Our head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, was recently interviewed by WeAreTechWomen as part of an inspirational feature which shared insight into her career in the sector, key advice for her peers, and her go to resources for support information. For Carol, it’s about providing ways to help attract a wider talent pool, and that’s where culture comes into play. You can catch up on the piece, here.

Make sure you stay tuned for more news from Vapour HQ.

It’s Mark Taylor’s turn in the spotlight this month. Born right at the start of the tech boom, with access to PC and video games from a young age, Mark’s passion for the dynamic technology industry, and how it can be used to create so many opportunities within society, continues to develop.

Over to you Mark, your 60 seconds start now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Some years ago, I started reading more into AI technology and its capabilities. I’m fascinated by what AI can do, and what the industry is expecting / predicting from this type of technology in the future. The evolution of AI creates so many interesting opportunities for everyone in society!

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

As a keen PC gamer when I was younger, I played anything from ‘The Sims’ to strategy games like ‘Age of Empires’. I think I was born just at the right time, at the start of the tech boom that has developed into what it is today.

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

A collaborative nature – whether you’re working with a customer, your own team, or another stakeholder, it’s important to work together to explore the options and find the best solution.

In an industry as dynamic as the technology sector – which continues to evolve and change - this is especially important. At Vapour, we share ideas and support each other to ensure we’re delivering the best possible solution and services to our customers.

What is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

Access to the industry! Both knowledge of, and access to technology can sometimes be limited depending on a person’s background or upbringing. Introducing more people to digital platforms and skillsets supports the development of education within society, helps connectivity and the sharing of information across the world, maximising the capabilities of tech even further.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Vapour is more than just a provider of tech solutions - we stand out as a true partner in the tech space. We communicate and ask questions to understand customer needs, and delve into not only what, but also why they need a particular solution.

We’re about building a more personal relationship too, ensuring the customer feels they can come back to us long into the future, as their requirements change and develop, which I think is increasingly important.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The internet.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

Either a decent pair of speakers or a PlayStation5.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...

Google.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

‘One size fits all’ - An organisation’s tech infrastructure and requirements can change depending on a multitude of factors - their industry or sector, company size, and even key challenges. It’s about understanding and consulting on where tech products and services can be of benefit.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Knowledgeable and efficient.

In our latest webinar ‘Unleash the UC capabilities of Microsoft Teams — Introducing TeamsLink’, we partnered with Wavenet to explore how organisations can make the most of this advanced, feature-packed tool, to take their use of Microsoft Teams to the next level.

Remote and hybrid working has dominated the news throughout the pandemic, and having accelerated the digital transformation of businesses globally, it’s here to stay. But collaborative working requires unified platforms that can meet the needs of organisations without the need to jump in and out of different channels like Slack, Zoom, email and the basic telephone.

So, while 200 million people now participate in Teams dialogue in a typical day, we know this game-changing platform could work even harder for your business.

In this 60-minute webinar, we therefore introduced TeamsLink. With one tool for messaging, video meetings, calling, file sharing, analytics and more, the intuitive online portal gives complete visual control over the management of users and call flows. It also offers the opportunity to uncover otherwise untapped business intelligence to analyse true workplace performance, service levels, engagement, and morale.

If you missed our virtual event, you can watch again to experience:

Who can TeamsLink help? Well to put it simply… everyone. Many companies are merely scratching the surface when it comes to their true collaboration, productivity, and reporting potential.

Watch the full webinar recording here.

Want to research a little further first? Check out our TeamsLink information hub.

We’re halfway through the year – can you even believe it?! In this second instalment of our 2021 technology news roundup, we share some of the innovations and key digital transformation developments that have caught our eye over the last few months.

Here are some of our ‘must shares’…

Covid 19 accelerates AI use

We know that our dependence on technology and the number of people with advancing digital skillsets have accelerated globally as a result of the pandemic. And when it comes to artificial intelligence adoption, it’s interesting to see that the UK now features in the top five countries in the world, alongside Italy, Germany, France, and the US. TechRepublic reports how businesses are embracing it.

Workplace wearables

According to Raconteur, AI looks set to spark the latest office revolution too, with the workplace set to experience a number of further changes over the next 12 months. The use of wearables is one particular trend to keep an eye on!

Does ‘the new normal’ bring heightened cybersecurity risks?

In a 1Q21 global poll of 165 executives on behalf of Gartner, it’s interesting to note that the top three cybersecurity concerns all related to hybrid working. As we know, teams across the country rushed to implement remote solutions back in March 2020, and it seems that as the world now starts to return to some form of normality, these hasty implementations may not be up to scratch.

SD-WAN hits the headlines

Remote working is here to stay, which means organisations need to implement secure, future-proofed systems that keep endpoints and networks safe - and that’s where we shine! Vapour has partnered with Gartner Magic Quadrant-recognised Fortinet, to deliver a highly robust SD-WAN solution, which saw us hit the tech headlines too!

Check out our feature in Comms Business.

It’s Dan Needham’s turn in the spotlight this month. His early introduction into tech started at just six years old with a PlayStation One, and who can blame him - they were all the range back in the day. But flash forward to 2021, and it’s clear that for Dan, the way that tech can bring people together and encourage that feeling of community is prominent.

Take it away Dan…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

From a professional standpoint, I was introduced to the world of tech by BrightHR, a Software as a Service companythat transforms the way organisations manage people.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

It has to bewhen I got my first PlayStation One for my birthday at about six years old. Playing games like Rayman and Spyro were my earliest memory of tech - those were the days!

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Be self-motivated with passion. You need to know the industry back to front and be able to read up on the topics that matter to truly relate to your customers.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

I would change the perception of the tech sector. It sometimes has a negative connotation due to people not having the right understanding of what it is and what it can really do.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

If you want something doing at Vapour, the answer is usually always yes, we love a challenge and aren’t easily fazed. And, if we can’t help you, we know someone who can.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

It has to be the internet – it’s great at bringing everyone together, and especially over the last year this has been extremely important.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

An Apple Watch – I’ve had a Fitbit for the last few years and would love to upgrade to an Apple Watch as my next tech purchase.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...

This is a tricky one, especially after the year we’ve had, where overnight we were plunged into relying so much more on tech than we were used to. I’m going to have to say investment platform eToro. They provide a community that shares information about investment and makes it accessible for everyone.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

Moving to the cloud is complicated… with the right vision and strategy, the move can be made easy.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Secure – cyber security breaches and ransomware attacks can be really costly, so organisations need to be more proactive rather than reactive in our security.

Only a matter of days after Vapour’s new annual charity campaign was revealed, CEO Tim Mercer has already announced the first of his fundraising quests for Borne. And he’s appealing to business owners, innovation heads, CTOs and IT leaders for support.

Over the next six months, Tim will donate up to 24 days of his time to deliver digital transformation sessions for organisations large and small. Covering topics ranging from secure hybrid working infrastructures and debunking the misconceptions associated with SD-WAN, to robotic process automation for companies regardless of size, Vapour will not earn a penny from these consultations.

But in return for his expertise, Tim will be asking the firms to donate £250 for a three-hour session, or £500 for a seven-hour session. And 100% of the monies raised, will go towards raising £23,000 for the charity committed to preventing premature birth.

“When we unveiled our chosen charity for 2021-22, last week, we made a start on drumming up funds the very same day with a staff auction,” said Tim. “And the team was brimming with ideas to climb mountains, clock up the miles, get quizzing and hold bake off style competitions. But reaching our colossal £23,000 target will be a feat in itself. So, it’s important we think of as many ideas as possible.

“As organisations have undergone more workplace change in the past 12 months than they ordinarily would in a 5-10 year period, I thought that the donation of my time, industry knowledge and advice could help fire up our fundraising efforts, while also benefitting the organisations I talk to. I’m willing to cover any topic from our toolkit, or any solution that we currently highlight on our website. So, I look forward to discovering what I’ll be tasked with, and hope to see the coffers filling up.”

To discuss potential dates and topics for one of the consultations, please email gs@vapourcloud.com.

Want to donate? Check out our JustGiving fundraising page.

Follow Vapour on social media to watch the team’s fundraising efforts unfold:

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LinkedIn

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