Ofcom released a statement earlier this month, announcing that halfway into its exploration of UK cloud services, it plans to refer the market to the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) for investigation.

The news, while major, is actually unsurprising when you think about the make-up of the industry, believes Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer.

“The UK’s two lead cloud players - Microsoft and AWS (Amazon Web Services) - hold up to 70% of market share, which definitely feels like a monopoly. There are other hyperscalers competing for customers’ business of course, including Google, but their presence is comparatively dwarfed by the other two giants.

“So we have to ask ourselves, do they have too much control? I would argue they do, but it’s hard to see how anything will change if the Government uses both.”

The dominance of Microsoft and AWS does make it harder for emerging cloud providers to gain traction, adds Tim.

“These providers have traditionally offered seemingly ultra-affordable options for customers - undoubtedly one of the reasons they’re the ‘go to’ cloud of choice for the public sector particularly. But big doesn’t necessarily mean best,” he said.

Ofcom’s article expressed apparent concern surrounding interoperability restrictions and significant price increases at the point of renewal, for example, no doubt just some of the factors that will be further examined by the CMA, if it goes ahead.

We’re told a final decision on the proposed investigation will be made by 5 October 2023.

“I hope it’s not merely an industry rumbling,” concluded Tim. “If there are ways to improve how the market works for all, then surely an investigation makes sense.“In the meantime though, I think the theme of this conversation reminds us of the importance of cloud agnostic conversations. After all, multi-cloud providers exist, who are able to advise organisations on the cloud infrastructure that is truly right for them - it might be Microsoft or AWS, it might be Google, or it might be something else entirely. That’s when things get really exciting.”

Guest blogger Ed Winfield attracted a lot of attention on our ‘Knowledge’ page recently, so we thought we’d delve deeper into the business he represents – Content Guru – a long-standing partner which has featured in the Vapour Cloud for years…

  1. Content Guru is widely known in our industry as a leading contact centre solution provider, thanks to the storm® cloud communications platform – but there’s lots more to the firm’s offering, with UC services, comms integration services, a customer data platform, and brain® AI enablement among the suite. It all comes back to their commitment to – Engagement Made Easy.
  1. The firm has been recognised as a ‘Challenger’ in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant for CCaaS, with ambitions to move to the Leaders space – in global terms – as the firm continues to advance its position in the USA particularly. In the UK, we’d argue they’re definitely a market leader already!
  1. Content Guru’s partners are carefully selected to match their goals and values, and Vapour has been working with the organisation for over nine years. Together, we have access to vertical market specialists, meaning solutions are supercharged for public sector, utilities, financial services, insurance, and more – with retail a rapidly emerging area too. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all.
  1. Content Guru is widely perceived as a 500+ seat large contact centre specialist, but in truth, the platform is adaptable for smaller environments too with flexible pricing structures available. storm is the perfect solution for organisations looking for high platform availability and scalability, with business-critical integration and/or omni-channel communication requirements, as well as customer data platform needs. Organisations with high staff turnover have also seen reductions in churn thanks to the storm platform. 
  1. With Instagram functionality recently added, TikTok will come soon – and who knows beyond that! Content Guru doesn’t stop innovating when it comes to taking engagement seriously, which will be music to the ears of brands large and small, who really care about the customer experience.

Got a UC or CCaaS requirement that you need help with? Do you require support building a business case, or sifting through industry providers to find the solution best suited to your organisation? Let’s talk…

Application Monitoring as a Service was one of the final additions to our toolkit, late last year. But demand for the solution – Logic Monitor – has been so high, it’s now the focus of our first online event for 2022.

Providing visibility across an organisation’s entire IT infrastructure – including on-premise, cloud and hybrid applications – this proactive surveillance tool brings enterprise-level performance optimisation technology to organisations of all sizes.

By uncovering the root causes of network underperformance – often way before issues actually arise – this more preventative approach to application management boosts business efficiency, IT resilience and employee productivity, while minimising downtime, security risks and avoidable tech costs.

So, our inaugural event for 2022 delves deeper into this solution, offering a behind-the-scenes look at how the technology works, the insight it offers, the real-time alerts it provides, and the recommendations it suggests to continually optimise IT ecosystems.

Hear from:

PLUS: See live demos of the technology in action and put your questions live to our speakers, on the day.

Tuesday 8th February at 2pm

Sign up for free.

It’s David Parsons’ turn in the spotlight this month. Get to know our solutions engineer, as he shares why Acorn had him hooked on IT from such a young age, and why he believes problem solving is key for a career in tech.

59, 58, 57…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I entered the technology industry in my first job – working for a dictation company transitioning customers from tape to digital devices and software management of the recordings.

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

My Dad got me interested in computing from a very young age, loading software from tapes onto an Acorn – now I feel old!

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

Anyone who has been successful in technology has a drive to learn and to challenge themselves. Exams and training are useful, but an individual’s initiative to work out a problem on their own and learn from it, is what really makes a good engineer stand out.

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

Investing in technology is a lot like investing in people – you cannot invest once and expect everything to run smoothly for years. Demands and expectations are always changing, as is the landscape and what is available. So, a continuous development approach is vital to avoid being left behind, or being hit with an unexpected problem and avoidable costs when things do go wrong.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

We have a clear vision of the sort of company we want to be.  Our focus is always on the customer, finding solutions to real problems and delivering the best levels of service.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... the internet.

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

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

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... Product and price are everything.  Finding a partner you can work with to build the right solutions and a high level of service, is far more important.  The art of IT is not in the product, but in the delivery and support of it.

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

We’ve been teasing followers on social media for weeks, and now we can officially reveal that Vapour has a new ‘home’.

The move to a bespoke space in a converted textiles mill in the heart of Huddersfield felt very fitting, as we prepared for the post-pandemic return to work. For months we’d been speaking to colleagues about what they most value about the workplace, and the surroundings we enjoy – as a team – was a consistent theme.

With most employees looking for a hybrid way of working moving forward, we therefore thought that our office would benefit from a different layout, with a more open plan space driving collaboration and communication when we’re physically working alongside one another.

But mindful of the walls physically dividing up our square footage until recently, we began the hunt for somewhere fresh. We sought character, personality and vibrancy, as well as the more functional convenience of location and the facilities offered nearby. And following a four-month refurbishment programme, what was once a dark, tired space, is now a bright, airy and welcoming environment we’re proud to call home.

Commenting on the move, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer said: “We’ve boosted the team by 16% in the last six months, and our recruitment plans show no sign of slowing. So, there’s never been a more important time to think about the attractiveness of our office, from an employability perspective.

“Our core space is open plan and features different styles of workstations, to suit colleagues’ varied working styles. As well as more formal, private meeting spaces, there’s also a relaxed seating area for customers and colleagues alike, and a social hub which represents almost a third of our footprint.

“We’ve thought carefully about the décor, down to the artwork on the walls and the soft furnishings. I think people have started to expect something different from their surroundings, following a prolonged period of time working from home, and the vibe we’ve created reflects that.”

Now that the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines are easing, we look forward to hopefully seeing you at our new HQ soon. If you’d like to plan a visit, please let us know – we’re only a few minutes from the M62!

It’s Ronnie Paton’s turn in the spotlight this month. His entrance into the world of tech started with cable TV and fast-forward to 2021, the next 4K offering is on his wishlist. Learn all about our new recruit and cloud UC engineer, in his quick-fire Q&A.

Ronnie, your time starts now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

It all started when I completed a course surrounding the installation of cable TV, as it was just being rolled out in the UK.

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

I am of an age that means I can remember the world without the internet. And so, my earliest memory of tech is military radios – if you could call them technical?

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

The ability to listen to what is being said and explain the solution to everyone at a level they understand, is key.

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

The use of TLAs (three letter acronyms). I believe they’re over relied on, and that some people try to confuse others by using them to hide their lack of knowledge of what they are explaining.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Vapour has the ability to build a comms platform around the customer’s needs, rather than the customer having to work around the comms platform.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... the telephone.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a 4KApple TV.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... YouTube. Without it, lockdown would’ve been very boring for sure!

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... everything is difficult, therefore it must be expensive.

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

As the UK begins to hope for brighter times, it’s perhaps no surprise that our CEO Tim Mercer thinks there’s a lot to be positive about, as we close the door on a successful Q1. Here, he talks everything from growing IT budgets, to the growing pains of teams still separated due to social distancing rules…

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease, everyone is now looking forward – particularly our customers and friends who have been able to re-open their businesses for the first time in months.  To these guys, you made it, and we’re rooting for you!

They’ll no doubt be happy to put Q1 behind them, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some important points to be taken from January-March.

Organisations have once again demonstrated incredible resilience in the face of more lockdowns, trading restrictions, lost custom, disparate teams, and home schooling. And as is often the case during a crisis, there have been some incredible examples of ongoing innovation and camaraderie in the space, as a result. We’ve seen news of impressive mergers and acquisitions too, which shows just how important the world of tech is right now – particularly in AI, automation and cyber security.

At Vapour HQ, we’ve had the busiest four weeks of the last 12 months in terms of new enquiries. A recent report by Gartner – which states that IT leaders have had the green light to spend on digitisation – perhaps explains this spike. In fact, an article in Computer Weekly quotes research vice-president John-David Lovelock, who said that: “Last year, IT spending took the form of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to enable a remote workforce in a matter of weeks. As hybrid work takes hold, CIOs will focus on spending that enables innovation, not just task completion.”

This certainly correlates with the type of projects we’re being asked to support on. Last year, many organisations made a mass switch to Microsoft Teams, for example. Now they’re talking to us about things like Teamslink – a cloud hosted phone system built into Microsoft’s environment, and business intelligence across their Microsoft stack.

Elsewhere, some CIOs realised that their disaster recovery strategies simply weren’t robust enough, so business continuity is now a priority. Other tech leaders are concentrating on innovations such as robotic process automation to take their customer experience standards to the next level.

The enquiries are as varied as they are numerous, but one thing’s for sure – the days of Vapour being known merely for voice, networks and storage, are long gone. Even our rebrand back in January, feels like a lifetime ago.

With our evolution, has come growth in the team, with five new starters joining us in Q1 alone. Onboarding fresh colleagues hasn’t been without its challenges, particularly as a business known for our culture, but it has made us even sharper as a management team. New employees’ time needs to be pre-booked, for example, so they have the same opportunities to talk to, observe and learn from their co-workers – just as they would if they were in the office together. Laser focused organisational skills are certainly essential!

Staying with our people, we’ve re-run our staff wellness survey with Champion Health, following our pledge in 2020 to better protect colleagues’ mental health. Six months on, the findings have revealed a different ‘temperature’, with less stress a common denominator among most. Many have, however, missed meaningful interactions with colleagues – let’s face it, we’re all a little tired of virtual social get-togethers.

We’re therefore looking forward to organising a celebration for staff as summer approaches – not least because we’ve got another big announcement coming. Our Instagram followers may have a sneaky suspicion as to what I’m talking about, so if you haven’t seen the photos, head over to our profile and take a look!

We know we won’t see a mass return to the office though – certainly not for everyone, every day. From a tech point of view, I’m naturally not worried, especially when I compare my thought patterns to fellow business leaders grappling with fears about secure hybrid working.

But maintaining the dynamic and personality of the team is a little trickier with people striving for different working patterns and much shorter hours spent at HQ. Tricky, but not impossible, and I’m enjoying spending time thinking about how we commit to and live by the values we reshaped as a team last year, in readiness for our January relaunch.

I could go on, but there’s work to do. All in all, we’ve had a good quarter, and our friends in the wider tech space are gearing up for a quietly confident 2021, too. After a volatile year, I’m pleased to hear stories of positivity and growth among our peers.

As the next three months unfold I think we’ll be talking lots more about endpoint security, challenging the status quo, and I’ve got a few potentially controversial things to say about voice! Watch this space…

It’s Greeta Sagris’ turn in the spotlight this month. A self-confessed tech novice – not to mention a straight talker – she is a breath of fresh air at Vapour’s HQ. She loves communication, processes, teamwork – and dogs!

Greeta, it’s over to you…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

This is actually my first job in the sector. I work in a process capacity, rather than on the tech side, pulling together my organisational skills from previous roles, to make sure the right things get done, to the right standard, at the right time.

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

An ANCIENT Gameboy, Tetris and Snake.

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

Communication and determination. I talk A LOT, so this role is right up my street! It helps keep everyone in the loop as well and gets things done!

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

As I’m not from a techy background myself, it’s really struck me how much terminology is used. Some of it is relevant, of course, but the industry’s misuse and over-reliance on jargon is something Vapour is trying to change.

If you’re the CEO of an organisation preparing for a digital transformation project, for example, you don’t need to be bombarded with the specifics of the toolkit, so long as you know that the solution being recommended is going to achieve the outcomes you’re striving for. This is the simple, straight-talking language we should be focusing on.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

For our innovation and creativity – we are striving to be at the forefront of technology services, and disrupt along the way to change the face of what’s possible (without the headaches!)

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... the iPhone!

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a new bigger, smart TV (or stronger glasses!)

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

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... it’s all about physical technology – there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, and we receive as much praise for our people, as we do our products!

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

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