It’s no secret that the global tech sector is advancing at an astonishingly rapid pace – not least in relation to the now integral role of digital transformation in spearheading growth and success. But no matter the size or scope or your organisation – or how sophisticated your innovation strategy is – the only way to drive significant change is to leverage the power of people.

So, to champion some of the industry’s finest talent, and gain some insight into the minds of individuals from across the tech space, we’re inviting friends and partners of the business to take part in our quickfire Q&A.

Up next, it’s Gary Saunders, managing director at CloudCoCo…

Tell us about your role at CloudCoCo and the part you play in the tech sector.

I have such a vast range of responsibilities, but some key elements of my role include overseeing the sales function, as well as CloudCoCo website enhancements, and developing our managed service function.

We’re a people-led business with a skilled team of experts who help customers gain a competitive edge. We supply modern, innovative IT solutions that underpin and support crucial business activities, whilst putting power back into the hands of customers.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

Throughout the course of our journey, we’ve had a number of key acquisitions that have taken us from the two-person company CloudCoCo was in 2018, to an industry leading organisation with a strong team of technical and customer-focused specialists.

And where’s next for your business?

There is still work to be done to enable the Group to reach its full potential, and the macro-economic environment remains unpredictable. But with the hard work that has taken place to lay the foundations for sustainable and profitable growth in the future, we are confident of continued progress in the second half and moving into FY23.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

At the moment, it’s the fact everyone believes everything is about cloud.

While cloud has a major place in every successful tech strategy, people think it’s the only option. In reality, hybridity is the epitome of innovation, combining the benefits of traditional services, managed IT, and the cloud – rather than solely focusing on one element.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

People maximising the infrastructure and licencing they already have – and if this isn’t a key trend, it should be.

Microsoft is constantly evolving and as such, there are limitations on certain licencing which can have a real impact on business. Instead, it’s about maximising use and really hammering home the education piece.

Plus, in a time where cash is king for many, people are reluctant to spend money – if organisations make the most of what they already have and rinse their existing tools of their true worth, they’ll be in good stead.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

Be a sponge, soak up knowledge, and keep an open mind. There are so many people to learn from in this industry – don’t take the opportunity to seek advice for granted.

The next purchase on my personal tech wish list is…?

I’d love an electric car, but I’d say my personal goals are naturally driven by the business.

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

Mobile phones – specifically, a flip-up Motorola StarTAC with a huge aerial. I worked with this kind of tech a lot in my early career.

What is one longstanding piece of tech you are shocked is still used today?

I’m amazed that people still use tape drives rather than having cloud backup. They’re so easy to damage or misplace, so there’s a significant risk of data loss.

For me it’s a no-brainer to leave tape drives in the past, but I think sometimes people are too reluctant to break old habits – even if it comes with such high stakes!

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’d listen to talkSPORT on the radio and catch up with the latest – whether it’s football, cricket, rugby, or anything really.

I’ve always been a sporty person, and it’s such easy listening.

It’s no secret that the global tech sector is advancing at an astonishingly rapid pace – not least in relation to the now integral role of digital transformation in spearheading growth and success. But no matter the size or scope of your organisation – or how sophisticated your innovation strategy is – the only way to drive significant change is to leverage the power of people.

So, to champion some of the industry’s finest talent, and gain some insight into the minds of individuals from across the tech space, we’re inviting friends and partners of the business to take part in our quickfire Q&A.

Up next, it’s Sharon McDermott, founder and managing director at Trenches Law

Tell us about your role at Trenches Law and the part you play in the tech sector.

As well as running the business as founder and managing director, I help to provide Trenches Law’s legal services as a qualified lawyer.

Essentially, we provide legal support for the tech and telecoms sector – drafting terms and conditions and negotiating them against a buyer or supplier, advising on GDPR and the emerging telecoms security bill, navigating contractual risks, plus supporting on any disputes.

We also manage the critical wayleave process for operators, including electricity wayleaves for electric vehicle charging points.

At the minute, we’re playing a key role in supporting operators and altnets who are installing their infrastructure to meet government targets – which stipulate that 85% of premises in the UK must have full fibre broadband by 2025. And our award-winning automation tool is a vital addition to support such needs.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

The automation tool that shook up the market in September 2020.

It interrogates Land Registry and other available databases to create and distribute tens of thousands of wayleaves on a daily basis – which ultimately accelerates clients’ builds.

And where’s next for your business?

There’s a real shortage of surveyors in the market at the moment, which means it’s taking so much longer for operators to be able to provide fibre – that’s where we come in.

We’re currently in the process of setting up a service offering, whereby the end-to-end fibre installation process in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) is undertaken by Trenches Law. This means that not only will we deal with the wayleave, we will also provide a surveyor to the MDUs to undertake a survey and agree the route of the fibre with the freeholder – allowing us to acquire the wayleave more quickly and use less touchpoints.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

Number one, is that it’s easy to provide an infrastructure or electronic communications network.

Operators are building their networks and missing private land out – including MDUs – because it’s too difficult to get a wayleave. As a result, there are pockets in the UK where residents won’t be able to access broadband – this needs addressing sooner rather than later. Digital exclusion is a very real and worrying challenge.

Secondly, it’s that contracts don’t matter after they are executed. So many people store legal documents in a drawer never to be looked at again – but you never know when a dispute might arise. It’s so important to read through contracts and get legal advice before they are signed – even if that’s just a high-level, short-term risk review.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

A lot of mergers and acquisitions in the market – and we’re already starting to see that with the likes of Connexin buying Pure Broadband.

Operators are running out of space where they can build networks due to the increase in competition, so naturally there’s a lot of saturation with altnets at the minute. To overcome this issue, instead of going through guild, operators are joining forces to increase their ‘number of homes passed’ figure and drive higher value for money for investors.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

This works in so many industries, but as a leader, I’m a firm believer that anyone can achieve anything if they believe in themselves. So, if you wanted to be a lawyer, stick at it because telecoms is such a niche area, and you don’t need to have a traditional educational background to excel if you have the right drive and attitude.

Also, the way you act comes back at you in many ways – I’ve learnt how to do things or not do things from positive and negative people. So, my lifelong mantra has been to support others in any stage of your/their career. The reputation you build is so important and long-lasting.

The next purchase on my personal tech wish list is…?

I’m terrible at technology in my personal life – anything I touch, I break.

Above all, everyone knows how bad I am at charging my phone, so maybe a portable power bank would be a good idea.

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

When I was around 21, I remember getting a tiny little grey phone – which I think came with my first car, for some strange reason.

I used to always see the field guys in my first job walking around the site with these huge mobile phones with massive antennas too – the opposite of mine but a similar memory. How far we’ve come!

What is one longstanding piece of tech you are shocked is still used today?

I’m surprised people still use hard copies of videos and DVDs – when nowadays you can stream anything, from anywhere, at any time.

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’d go for a walk with my two dogs to the local pub – a Cavapoo and a Cavapoochon. They’re called Will and Luka, after two football players from Crystal Palace football club – my husband and son are big fans!

It’s our newest recruit, Holly’s turn in the spotlight this month. Here, she delves deeper into her career trajectory to date, passion for gaming, and hopes for the future of the tech industry.

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I had been looking for a career change from hospitality after completing a master’s degree in business management and marketing. I knew I wanted to work in the technology sector, as I find the culture to be extremely collaborative and empowering – a world away from the stuffy traditions and hierarchy that I was used to.

I contacted a sales recruitment company that supports eager post-graduates to find the perfect placement, and they put me forward for a whole host of opportunities – including Vapour. As soon as I got talking to Tim and Carol, I knew Vapour was the organisation I wanted to work for!

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

I grew up around Windows 95 and 97, playing old MS-DOS floppy disks on a PC weighing almost as much as me! My Dad taught me a lot about how to get into the nitty gritty of these machines, and as soon as broadband took off when I was around 10 years old, I was hooked.

Now, when my parents have issues with their own laptops, they pass them to me in the hope I can get them up and running again. I should start charging them for the service really!

I’m also quite an avid gamer – indulging sometimes for whole weekends at a time.

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

I love building relationships, and believe that you work for people – not for organisations. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to meet such a great team of individuals, each an expert at what they do.

This position really is perfect for me. The combination of ongoing learning opportunities, coupled with the ability to chat to and meet inspiring people every day, is what makes me feel so fulfilled.

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

There are already great changes in the fabric of the tech workforce – with national and local organisations like ‘girls who code’ and ‘Northcoders’ getting females interested in IT and helping women to break into the tech sector.

A bigger variety of tech modules should be taught in both primary and secondary education, with areas such as coding being a separate subject and available at an earlier age. It is so integral to the way we live now, that education in the UK really needs to get a move on and catch up!

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Vapour has the expertise to deliver what we do to the highest standard, always giving the best advice to clients and developing honest and sustainable relationships. We are innovative with the tools that we have, continuously finding solutions to meet such a wide variety of needs.

The way in which the team works together is also recognised by our clients, with our culture embedded throughout customer journeys as well as our own operations.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

entertainment on demand. It has completely disrupted and redesigned the way we consume media – giving power back to the consumer, providing such a rich variety of content, and allowing alternative creators to make a living from doing something they love.

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

a top-of-the-line gaming PC!

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

I have to agree with my colleague Sam on this one, and say Tesla.

The stirring disruption to an industry, that was so unsustainable just a few years ago, has been exciting to watch. Musk’s unabashed promotion of freedom of information will no doubt continue to ruffle feathers.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

tech solutions are always complicated and can only be understood by a select few.

By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more...

connected, collaborative, and resilient. As seen over the last couple of years in particular, flexibility and future-proofing need to remain at the top of every business agenda to stay ahead of the curve.

Our head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, makes up part of the 19% of women who work in the tech sector.

This month, she shared her thoughts with TechBlast on what it means to have a career in a typically male-dominated industry, insights into her own experiences throughout her 20-year tenure, and why females mustn’t underestimate their worth.

If you didn’t catch the write-up, now’s your chance…

‘I’m great at my job – and I’m not ashamed to admit it’

Carol McGrotty makes up part of the 19% of women who work in the tech sector, and says females mustn’t underestimate their worth.

I’m great at what I do – and I can confidently write that down.

I’m not boastful or arrogant, but I didn’t want to say, ‘my name is Carol and I have imposter syndrome’.

Estimates vary, but it’s thought that women account for between 19-26 per cent of the tech sector. Straight away, it means we’re a minority group – so it’s really important we don’t fall into the trap of underestimating our values and skills.

By way of background, I’m in charge of digital transformation and operations at a Yorkshire-based tech firm called Vapour Cloud.

I have a rich portfolio of experience which is continually expanding, a comprehensive network of industry connections, plus I’m incredibly tenacious and passionate. The fact Vapour sought me out directly to join the business in 2013 is testament to my expertise.

Yet, imposter syndrome has long been a struggle I’ve had to manage – and that’s something I see time and again in other successful women, particularly when speaking in public.

In such a male-dominated industry, it can be difficult not to buy into the messages circulated by others, and the need to constantly remind myself of the value I’m bringing to the table becomes tiring at the best of times.

In my case, I joined the tech sector in 2000, swapping my career in insurance to help deliver projects to enterprise and public sector customers, whilst also contributing to process improvement workstreams and breakthrough product launches.

With a strong network of female leaders around me from the outset, my own drive and curiosity quickly translated into a desire to follow in the footsteps of my own mentors and empower a similar culture of inclusivity as my trajectory developed.

But while I’ve undoubtedly had an easier ride than most as a woman in the tech realm, many doubts have still managed to cast a shadow on my success.

Luckily, I can’t recall any direct examples of misogyny, but walking into a professional event as the only woman in the room naturally induces immense pressures to prove my worth – without coming across as ‘too much’, ‘challenging’, or being seen as a ‘diversity hire’.

For a movement that was created to address the lack of female representation throughout the industry, I fear that ‘women in tech’ can actually sometimes play into many of the shallow debates and preconceived ideas about gender.

But in the split-second of struggle, I remind myself just how necessary it is the bang the drum for all forms of equality and diversity in our space.

By nature, interacting with a more diverse team forces individuals to consider viewpoints beyond their own – and often, women maintain a ‘softer’ skillset that affords a crucial element of control and rationality.

The trouble is, such excellence is seen as so much of a pre-requisite for women, that it is undervalued, whereas it can feel that men are often considered to be exceptional in their role if they master the art of communication, for example.

In such a fast-paced industry, built on the need for constant innovation, women’s innate ability to ‘put the brakes on’ and look at the wider picture – accounting for everything from feasibility and longevity, to external viewpoints and impacts on ESG factors – is key. Your tech strategy shouldn’t just be based on ROI, after all.

It goes without saying that mentorship from female leads will continue to play a significant role in closing the gender gap, but more importantly, it’s about facilitating a career path with ample progression opportunities – with education on what this might look like being the starting point to incite and inspire change.

In a generation so involved in tech, such a limited number understand what a career in the industry actually means – with visions of laptops and IT hacks dominating the perspectives of our younger generations.

Allowing college students to spend time with engineers and experience different departments to expand prospects and ignite passions they might not have previously had continues to be a major driver in broadening horizons.

Careers in beauty and cosmetics, nursing and midwifery, and teaching, are all options – just as they are for young male students. And only by facilitating these ideas can we achieve the dream of complete gender parity in any and all industries.

Organisations need to take a leaf out of Girlguiding UK’s book. In a bid to involve more girls in technology – after research found more than half (52%) of girls and women between the ages of 11 and 21 believed that STEM was for boys – a whole host of new activities have been introduced to the curriculum. New additions will see Rainbows embark on an app-related course, Brownies learn coding, and Guides delve deeper into the world of chatbots.

With such initiatives, we can break gender biases from an early age and empower girls – and boys – to think about their interests, and eventually career prospects, with a more open mind.

At Vapour, we don’t just liberate people’s potential through technological innovation, we also invest in next-generation talent to enable new opportunities throughout our local community.

And as part of our most recent initiative, we’re proud to share that Vapour has extended its current football sponsorship for players at Tickhill Juniors FC, to also include two daughters of our senior account director, Glenn Ollivant – Betsy (11) and Imelda (10).

Betsy and Imelda’s training efforts paid dividends when the duo was scouted last season by the Doncaster Belles – one of the most historic female football teams in England, established in 1969 – and asked to play for the academy team.

As well as being the only two players at Tickhill Juniors to be signed without needing to attend a trial, Imelda’s capabilities also mean she plays in the age category above her own.

The 12-month sponsorship will fund the necessities Betsy and Imelda need to grow at the club, removing financial strain from the players’ families and offering an opportunity to focus on performance, training, and matches.

“Keeping a children’s club up and running is heavily determined by parents putting themselves forward to offer support where they can. With this pathway, the girls can not only benefit from the guidance of professional coaches, but access to bigger regional and England-type training set-ups too – including playing with an all boys’ league this season, which will hopefully create an avenue into a women’s super league club and the Lionesses in the future,” says Glenn.

The decision to extend Vapour’s sponsorship came following on from the Lionesses’ inspiring triumph at the UEFA Women’s EURO finals, as the Vapour team felt it was only right to share our backing with burgeoning female athletes too – to fuel their passions and facilitate growth in the sport.

CEO Tim Mercer commented: “Not only did our national women’s team demonstrate real grit, strength, resilience, and teamwork that night, but they paved the way for marginalised groups across the globe to make breakthroughs of their own.

“And that empowerment isn’t exclusive to football either. Women have undeniably had to overcome a lot of prejudices to receive the opportunities they do today in sport – which is why the UEFA display offers such a resounding measure of courage and resilience to adoring young players. However, this motivation extends even further afield.”

Carol McGrotty, Vapour’s head of digital transformation and operations, added: “As a woman in such a male dominated industry, I understand the value great mentorship can bring to help overcome the effects of adversity.

“You don’t necessarily need to be a football fan to see the impact of it ‘coming home’ thanks to a group of females. The fledgling nature of the women’s game has parallels to the tech industry, for me – and it prompts a great sense of open-mindedness to show that passions and opportunities shouldn’t be gendered. It’s a hopeful sign of things to come!”

We’re excited to watch our young players grow over the coming months.

Keep an eye on our LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to catch updates on the sponsorship.

If you know anything at all about tech, it’s that the last two years have thrown organisations of all shapes, sizes, and sectors head-first into the digital realm.

But just as much as state-of-the-art products and solutions have the power to revolutionise business, people are equally a key driver of innovation – not least when they’re industry-renowned professionals with bags full of experience and expertise.

Didn’t catch the commentary from our hand-selected panel of VIPs at our intimate event last week? Don’t fear. We’ve curated a list of the key takeaways that every successful leader should know as they continue to augment their own digital transformation strategy in 2022 – and beyond.

So sit tight, and delve in…

1. Don’t underestimate conversation  around the 4th industrial revolution – it’s here

And our clients think of Vapour as the plumbing to the Internet and other applications. It just works.

2. By 2025, 27% of the global workforce will be Gen Zs

Not only are they an important talent pool in this industry – having grown up without a recollection of life with no internet – they’re also the future of every organisation.

With that in mind, do you understand what your employees need and want from the workplace, especially when it comes to the expectations they have on technology?

3. Intelligent automation is a key driver of innovation

As well as saving time, money, and headaches dealing with the ‘dumb stuff’ – much like RPA – intelligent automation on the other hand can also ingest, interpret, and think about data, work harder, and enhance the roles of people even further.

4. Automation can work 24/7/365

Not only this, but it’s also able to work three times faster than human processing and with 100% accuracy, plus infinite scalability.

Repetitive tasks are often one of the biggest causes of job dissatisfaction and wasted time, and according to Rob Dawson – principle consultant at Robiquity and one of the speakers at our event – clients save an average of 27,000 hours per year using their intelligent automation services!

5. McKinsey data states that IT budgets typically go over by an average of 45%!

That’s why it’s crucial to look for a partner that is vender agnostic, and will implement the solution that’s right for your needs – not the one they’re paid to implement.

Ask questions specific to your own IT scenario too, to validate their experience. Rob’s advice on this topic was to ensure the discovery stage of a project is thorough, to ensure true RPA readiness, and to ask for a partner’s typical speed to value time – 5 weeks should be feasible, on average (depending on the nature of the project of course!).

6. Many VoIP providers only work with 1-2 carriers

This means their disaster recovery lacks vital resilience.

On the other hand, Wavenet – one of the partners to feature on the event line-up – works with multiple carriers. This vastly mitigates the risk of any comms disruption for that client. If the connection goes down unexpectedly, the traffic simply flips to another in milliseconds.

Is it any wonder over a 12-month period, a busy 300-seat customer of Vapour’s had ZERO faults with Wavenet’s TeamsLink system?

7. Worldwide IT spending to grow 3% this year

Despite economic headwinds, IT decision makers are spending more on cloud services and the data centre.

And with inflationary pressures top-of-mind creating a degree of uncertainty, already high prices could rise even further. With that in mind, it’s no surprise enterprises are making a switch from ownership-based IT models to service-bases ones.

8. Tech adoption has risen exponentially – but there’s a renewed focus on people, and therefore employee wellbeing too, particularly in contact centre environments

Puzzel’s partner success manager, Alison Hogg, suggests that customer tolerance for slow service has diminished, and there’s an increasing demand to use whichever channel they want, when they want – with an unparalleled new focus on receiving a seamless, connected customer experience. So, Alison encouraged us to think about what that means for brands and how they respond.

It’s also important to remember that comms channel silos means team silos, which usually a bad user experience, as well as inefficient workloads as tasks require duplication.

9. Puzzel helps you serve micro-moments that drive engagement

With intelligent self-service for consumers, a seamless user experience for customers and agents, and automated scheduling that ensures you are always effectively staffed, the platform’s digital-first approach speeds up first contact resolutions to help improve customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

And if a customer wants to speak to a real person, chatbots can recognise this too! With a request for intervention and a full chat history, agents can easily pick up a customer conversation to enhance the overall service level.

10. Businesses will increasingly demand network connectivity via ground and air

The world of 5G is expanding at pace, fuelling pacy innovation for organisations reliant on smart devices and IoT, and providing ever-changing businesses with a quick and easy way to get connected – rapid deployment with a fixed cost, particularly great for firms with satellite/pop-up sites.

Still hungry for more insight? Download the full speaker presentations from the innovation forum, for free.

To discuss any of these topics in further detail, please contact Vapour on 0333 200 1142 or fill out our contact form.

If you’re keen to bag a seat at our next event, keep your eyes peeled on our LinkedIn and Twitter channels for updates as they unfold.


Innovation forum presentation

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It’s no secret that the global tech sector is advancing at an astonishingly rapid pace – not least in relation to the now integral role of digital transformation in spearheading growth and success. But no matter the size or scope or your organisation – or how sophisticated your innovation strategy is – the only way to drive significant change is to leverage the power of people.

So, to champion some of the industry’s finest talent, and gain some insight into the minds of individuals from across the tech space, we’re inviting friends and partners of the business to take part in our quickfire Q&A.

Up next, it’s Ed Critchley – sales and marketing director at Cheshire-based telecommunications provider, Albeego. Take it away, Ed…

Tell us about your role at Albeego and the part you play in the tech sector.

Albeego offers an innovative way to provide broadband connectivity, whether static or on the move, even in the most hostile environments that are lacking in reliable or stable communications infrastructure. Our bonded technology can, for example, take the strongest cellular signals and combine them to give more secure and high throughput connectivity.

We are carrier agnostic, but even if that in itself is an issue, we can deliver connectivity over TV whitespace – so places such as desserts suddenly become ‘online’.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are
now?


Comms is vital in the military environment – not least to help fulfil security needs – and the inventor of Albeego’s bonded technology had long known that there was a need for more stable and reliable internet connectivity upon his return to the UK from the Middle East in 2018.

Believe it or not, Albeego’s first router was made in a margarine tub, and the turning point was when high definition video could be seamlessly streamed on a train from Wigan to London – proving that the tech was successful! The router worked by connecting to multiple cellular towers and intuitively anticipating which ones should drop and join, while leaving other radios anchored.

And where’s next for your business?

We’re starting to tap into the realm of smart farming and agriculture, and are working with sector leaders to develop technology that we believe will revolutionise this sector going forward.

Food security is big on the agenda right now, and farming has to step up and improve its output to keep pace and become self-sufficient. It’s early days for IoT smart farming, but

Albeego plays a critical role in providing reliable connectivity and communications – whether that’s for tractors out in the field or automated machinery and robotics.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

That innovation comes at a cost. Innovation is now going to be more affordable than any past investment from a hardware and tech perspective, and the ROI is growing rapidly. While cost might be presumed to be an initial barrier to implementing state-of-the-art products and solutions, what it replaces or improves makes the investment worth it in the long run – not only saving time and money, but also providing new benefits and features.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) using IoT connectivity is really gathering pace at the minute. I’m sure there’ll be even more investment to come in those areas over the next year.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

I suppose this is a life rule too, but if it seemed like a good idea at the start, it probably is. Don’t let hurdles and doubts creep in and cloud your judgement, and don’t let self-sabotage talk you out of innovation.

Similarly, if you were never sure in the first place, that’s probably a sign to leave something and move on – knowing when to drop something is really critical to progress.

The next purchase on your personal tech wishlist is…?

I change my tech all the time for the latest iterations of existing products, such as my PC or phone, but I’m due an upgrade for my drone.

I love photography and video, and can often be found filming footage of interesting historical sites on my travels abroad, so it would be great to get the latest version for better camera capabilities.

And what is the earliest memory you have of tech in your life?

When I was a child, we went to Florida on a family holiday – it must have been around 1980 at Disney World, I remember taking a family picture and having it developed on a dot matrix printer – looking back, it doesn’t look much like us at all, but it was so cutting edge at the time. We were all totally wowed by it and showed our friends and family when we arrived home.

What is one longstanding piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

There are two that spring to mind:
1. AOL dial-up internet access – before broadband, people would use a standard phone line and an analogue modem to access the internet at one pence per minute, and over two million people still use it today! Perhaps it’s residents in rural places or those resistant to change who can’t move away from tradition, but this statistic is so bizarre to me. They clearly need an Albeego solution!

2. Vinyl – I used to DJ using vinyl when I was young and I loved it, but I’m amazed it’s made its way back into popularity. I thought its time had been and god for good!

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’ve taken golf up recently again with my son, but would definitely need more than an hour for that, so I supposed I would read a book.

I’m a bit of a book collector, so have lots on the shelf that I could pick up. I’m quite sad that I actually have two copies of some books – one for reading and one to keep in perfect condition. It’s a mix of subject matter really, but mainly I love historical books with a slight twist – I’m currently reading one about Ancient Egypt, which is a bit of a hybrid between fiction and non-fiction.

I’m also currently co-authoring a book with a friend in Denmark about the Knights Templar, so perhaps I could pass some time putting pen to paper with ideas, too.

Forward thinkers and tech innovators will be descending upon The Chambers in Leeds this month, for what is sure to be an unmissable exploration into next generation digital transformation.

Following the tremendous success of Vapour’s innovation forum in January, a brand-new panel of thought leaders will take to the stage to bring us the latest information on cloud technology, client connectivity, and the future of 5G - diving into what’s next for the fast-evolving world of hybrid working.

The exclusively-selected clients in attendance will come away with a slew of fresh ideas on how to improve their organisations’ productivity, security and resilience. Keeping them ahead of the curve in the rapidly changing tech environment.

Presenting at the city centre venue, will be representatives from the award-winning telecoms and technology provider, Wavenet, providing insight into, and demos of, their TeamsLink offering. The lucky invitees will be able to see just how the technology works and observe the business applications of its hero features, such as Power BI and dynamics integration, plus call recording. Wavenet’s John Denny is eager to provide a clear picture of just how much is possible with their programs, and how they can work seamlessly with other platforms, like that of Puzzel.

Pioneers of the customer service platform, Puzzel, will also be in attendance, showcasing their omnichannel contact centre on when and how this can be layered with other systems. Turning the spotlight onto their infrastructure, the value it holds, and the potential benefits they see in an increasingly remote working world, the focus of this session will be how to ensure savvy tech works harder for modern organisations.

The event’s highly-anticipated keynote speaker - CEO of Robiquity Tom Davies will be sharing the latest advancements in robotic process automation, its real world applications, and just how they can be implemented to benefit every organisation. Robiquity is widely recognised as the market leader, and Tom is sure to wow attendees with his observations and foresight.

Of course, there will also be a presentation from Vapour’s very own CEO Tim Mercer, who will unveil the latest 5G market changes set to revolutionise private network connectivity, and the need for faster progress as BT’s 2025 copper switch off edges ever closer.

Commenting on the event, Tim said “Hot on the heels of Vapour’s first innovation forum in January, this will be an excellent opportunity for our customers, partners, and friends to gather intel from some of the most pioneering thought-leaders from the communications and cloud tech space, as well as build key connections.

“With the market constantly evolving, and following such a successful turn out earlier this year, there felt no better time to launch the second instalment of the innovation forum, and I look forward to seeing what our keynote and guest speakers bring to the table on the day.”

All speakers will then be united for a Q&A session giving guests the opportunity to put their own questions to the knowledgeable panel.

If you are interested in attending this, or future innovation forums please visit our registration page or call 0333 200 1142 for more information.

Vapour’s head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, recently took part in a Q&A session for a feature on women in tech, with PCR magazine. If you missed it, you can read the article in full here...

1. Please could you provide name, job title, company

Carol McGrotty, Head of Transformation & Operations, Vapour

2. What is your professional background and how has this contributed to your current working position?

I joined the tech sector at the start of 2000, following a seven-year period working in insurance.  Initially, this was in a provisioning role delivering projects to enterprise and public sector customers, whilst also contributing to process improvement workstreams and new-to-market product launches. 

Having curiosity, a drive for purposeful transformation and a collaborative approach within the industry are still fundamentals in my position at Vapour today, as much as they were back when I began my tech journey.

3. What are your experiences of being a female tech leader?

For me it has always been a very positive experience, and I often refer to the fact that I am lucky in this regard – on reflection I wonder why this is, as surely it should be the norm for all females in this industry. When I started out in tech I had some very strong, knowledgeable and inspiring female leaders around me – who also then became my mentors.  Having had this grounding from the start of my career in tech has made me feel extremely passionate about being the same to other upcoming females.

4. What challenge have you encountered, if any, being a female in the tech sector?

Not so much of a challenge, but as I attend events, meetings and focus groups, I can often be the only female in the room.  At first, I could have seen this as a challenge – coupled with making it clear that you aren’t in attendance simply to take the minutes! But this is where relationship building comes to the fore, as does knowing your topic well, showing passion, listening to other peoples’ view points, and not trying to be someone else. As a female in tech if you’ve earned your right for a seat at the table, then you absolutely should be there.

5. What are your interests and passions in regards to working in the tech channel?

A key part of my role at Vapour is promoting our culture, leading by example on our company values and behaviours, and encouraging and supporting our teams in doing the same – through initiatives, committees, focus groups and sponsors. This aligns to another of my real passions, sustainability – not just at Vapour, but also within the industry as a whole and among our clients, by supporting their digital transformation with sustainable decisions.  Our ESG strategy and execution is paramount.

6. How can the channel drive greater diversity in the sector?

We need diversity in the sector from the floor level to the boardroom, to ensure there are a diverse range of views – this is particularly the case in tech, where innovation plays such a vital role.  Having this as a value and behaviour within the business, shows the support that comes from board level, and the role everyone can play.  By opening up discussions at department meetings, and even having a committee in place to be involved in driving change where needed, it is important to think outside the box to accommodate everyone, and continue to push for diversity and consider all needs.

7. How can the channel look to attract more females into leadership positions in the channel?

There is evidence to show that having females in leadership and board positions can improve performance and attract more female talent into businesses, particularly in roles that would previously have been deemed male-orientated such as engineering. 

Having policies such as split maternity/paternity leave, advertising job salaries to be transparent and ensuring female mentoring programmes are in place, all helps, as well as supporting on leadership and training programmes, and reviewing how job adverts are written (in less masculine language). Our male colleagues can be allies in this too – it is not just a female subject to drive and champion.

Tell us about your role at Content Guru and the part you play in the tech sector.

As a business development manager, I’m responsible for account management and working closely with new clients, customers and partners. As a cloud communications provider, it’s also important to keep on top of industry trends, to understand the new and emerging challenges that organisations face and how technology can help.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

The cloud. Where would we be without it – especially since the pandemic?!

And where’s next for your business?

We’re currently expanding our global reach into the US which is very exciting!

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

That price should be a core deciding factor – organisations need to carefully consider requirements, alongside how providers/solutions can best meet the needs of the organisation and what value the solution or service is delivering above simply cost saving.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

The pandemic has led businesses to diversify their communication channels and has opened the door to an increase in self-service solutions to help address resource limitations. As we start to navigate out of the pandemic and adapt to a more permanent hybrid way of working, we’re likely to see more of this as an effort to support organisations.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

It’s really important to keep your eye on industry trends and to learn your products inside and out. The technology sector can be full of jargon and complex terminology, so knowing in detail what the products and services are capable of means you can add extra context for customers to break down those barriers.

The next purchase on my personal tech wishlist is…?

New PC parts – I’ve taken on the task of building my own computer!

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

An Xbox!

What is one longstanding piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

A fixed home landline. You see them less and less in homes today, but there are still some around.

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

Going for a drive. There is something about getting on the road that is just so relaxing.

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