At the beginning of 2021, the rebrand and repositioning of Vapour marked a significant turning point in the nearly nine-year journey of our company. Fast forward to 2022, and the investment is still proving to be as crucial as ever in helping us dominate the conversation in a crowded sector.
But for head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, it’s people that play the most crucial role in branding transformation success. In an exclusive webinar hosted by legal professionals, Mills & Reeve, on February 9th, she delved deeper into driving innovation at Vapour through brand and highlighted the importance of employee buy-in…
Although the decision to embark on a digital transformation project can be driven by a whole host of challenges – from rapid growth and emergence into new sectors, to a pivotal change in business perspective – it’s often the people behind the organisation who act as a catalyst for change. Only by undertaking an honest review of a brand’s current positioning and identifying a need for transformation, can real evolution take place – innovating just for innovation’s sake will not only burn a hole in your time and resources, but it will also result in a ‘paint job’ finish that makes no commercial and/or cultural difference.
For Vapour – and any other business – this is no overnight process. Prepare well and give the project the time and attention it deserves – rather than treating it as a sideline objective – and company leaders will soon reap the benefits of streamlined operations, enhanced company culture and improved bottom line. For Vapour’s own strategic roll out, we devised a ‘365-day plan’ which was broken down into three smaller, more manageable stages, to enable us to analyse every facet of the brand’s evolution and maintain momentum from start to finish.
Customers also play a pivotal role in driving transformation, particularly when it comes to such jargon-filled, technical industries. Not only did we want our rebrand to demystify cloud technology and restore that ‘human touch’ we set out with, we also wanted our reputation to extend beyond our ‘toolkit’ to showcase our team, and help attract and retain the best talent. Therefore, gathering insight from our colleagues and customers on wider perceptions of Vapour was an essential part of the process – unveiling a concerted recognition of passion and talent, while addressing an apparent confusion over visual branding and restrictive product names. Putting the customer at the forefront of our ambitions meant we could also preserve the longevity of our digital transformation and bolster our sense of authenticity by giving them a stake in mapping out our future.
But a considered approach to driving innovation doesn’t just involve the rigour of senior level employees and customer insight – every colleague with a passion for the idea is able to tell the story upon launch. Think of them as your business’ most important ambassadors, and encourage them not only to embrace this new chapter, but to openly share their ideas to help spearhead further innovation. To hear more of Carol’s expert advice, and to catch up on commentary from other industry peers, watch the webinar in full, here.
Two disruptive cloud tech firms – both headquartered in Yorkshire – have announced an industry collaboration to supercharge the digital transformation solutions delivered to clients.
Managed IT specialist CloudCoCo, based in Leeds, will strengthen the cybersecurity offering provided by us here at Vapour. And in return, we will enhance CloudCoCo’s infrastructure with the addition of security-first SD-WAN connectivity – a cost-effective, scalable cloud technology that integrates network and user security, with ease, for high performance remote working.
The alliance signals the latest in a series of strategic partnerships for us – as an organisation that has never shied away from joining forces with the industry’s brightest talent, when approaching customers’ digital transformation projects.
“Organisations – certainly in the larger SME market and above – don’t expect or want a vendor to be a ‘jack of all trades’ anymore,” explained CEO Tim Mercer. “They seek to place their trust in a small number of proven experts who will listen carefully to the brief and deliver exactly what the business needs. Partnerships, in this environment, are therefore key. But they have to be carefully formed, between specialists whose technologies, standards, and cultures, are on a par, with no exceptions.”
With both companies closely aligned with enterprise cybersecurity giant Fortinet, the credibility of the two brands was clear when discussions to partner first began.
“We’re here to demystify cloud technologies to make the impossible, possible,” Tim added. “You can only do that by remaining straight-talking and customer focused at all times, and sometimes going against the grain. We’re not afraid to do that, and neither is CloudCoCo. I think both companies – and the teams within them – are respected for their honesty, so we’re a good fit when it comes to devising solutions, together.”
Like Tim, Mark Halpin’s cloud-first vision was also dismissed when he too left the corporate world to set up CloudCoCo. Fast forward three years, and the business now has more than 1,000 customers, £27m turnover, and has recently acquired managed service provider IDE Connect and Nimoveri IT Support.
“I was told I was cloud cuckoo for believing the managed IT sector had become slow, unresponsive, boring and broken, so in April 2018 I left my long-term job and built a company of agile, fiercely passionate, and supremely talented cloud, cybersecurity, connectivity, hardware and hosted voice professionals,” explained Mark.
“Tim and I share a similar back story and many values too – not least a passion for delighting customers with the help of progressive people and powerful technology that doesn’t have to be complicated. This partnership could mean great things for both our respective teams. CloudCoco has an unlimited ambition in terms of growth, so the future starts now.”
Vapour is also forecasting 25% revenue growth by the end of the financial year.
Embarking on a digital transformation project can be exciting for many organisations – especially when customers, prospects, employees, and wider stakeholders feel the changes in a positive way. However, if the motivation to undergo a programme is purely for vanity or because a competitor is doing the same thing, it’s likely to fall flat.
That’s because innovation isn’t simply a case of rolling out a new product or service without substance or thought. Instead it’s about adding value, as our head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, recently discussed with Top Business Tech magazine…
The term ‘digital transformation’ is nothing new in the business world, and yet there are still misconceptions about what it truly means. Today, colleagues will be sat in their respective boardrooms thinking of ways to ‘freshen things up’ which is an exciting prospect in many instances – as long as they’re doing it for the right reasons.
Yes, organisations must continuously reinvent themselves to remain relevant. However, the answer isn’t always to roll out a transformation project without a plan, objectives or KPIs. Companies that do go down this route will often see their poorly executed project come up against various hurdles which could potentially result in damaging brand loyalty.
Transformation should therefore centre on driving business growth, streamlining operations or inspiring innovation. It must be delivered on the back of an effective solution that fixes a problem that individuals have been experiencing – whether customers, employees, or wider stakeholders.
And the truth is, while the end goal is vital when determining how a project has fared, the most important stage often revolves around the question of, ‘how does this plan add value?’ To get to this point, there are even more queries to consider, such as:
Digital transformation doesn’t have to bust the business budget
Another misconception is the belief that to embark on a transformative program, an organisation must have a bulging bank balance. However, the good news is that to evolve processes or streamline operations, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost the earth or be a hugely revolutionary change.
For example, it could be a simple case of focusing on marginal gains – such as some simple robotic process automation – to empower a better outcome. And the work involved? Minor tweaks, but ones which will ultimately make a huge difference. Many organisations forget too that there is the option of rolling out a pilot scheme to understand reaction and provide another way to respond to feedback – both good and bad – without breaking the bank.
Empower employees to challenge the status quo
Additionally, these types of projects don’t always have to fall to the C-suite or a senior level employee with ‘technology’ in their job title. Typically, the individuals who are most passionate about the initial idea can often be the best people for the job because they believe in it, and can visualise how to bring it to fruition.
In this instance, colleagues with curiosity are critical because they are not afraid to question ‘how things have always been done’ – as long as they can provide a viable solution to make things smoother, swifter, and slicker.
Creating an environment where every individual’s voice is heard – and which embraces innovation – is more likely to inspire ‘lightbulb’ moments from various members of the team, and hopefully provide the innovation that’s required to help reinvent the company’s offering based on substance and value.
Not every project will go smoothly
Finally, an important point to stress is that there are likely to be bumps in the road during any transformation project. Therefore, it’s vital all scenarios are prepared for well in advance, and employees know the role they play – whether faced with Plan A, B or C. Responding positively to hurdles, even when they may appear difficult at first, can be the difference between a programme stalling or flourishing despite those initial setbacks.
Overall, a transformation project must add value. The idea in the first place should be less about vanity and more about a need that has presented itself – whether based on customer feedback or an employee simply asking the question ‘why do it like that when this way is quicker, slicker or smarter?’
Superficial plans that are created purely to go head-to-head with a competitor may still gain some traction and attract customers and prospects. However, if an organisation wants to transform an existing product, service, process or operation to generate brand loyalty, develop company culture and result in a positive bottom line impact in the longer term, a project of this type should always come back to value.
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.
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.