Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer was invited to attend the much-talked-about Comms Vision event delivered by Comms Dealer at the beautiful Gleneagles venue in Scotland last month.
Here are his top 10 takeaways from the two-day discussions:
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.
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.
It’s Katie’s turn in the spotlight this month. Here she shares the role communications can play in driving tech sector change, the need for energy in our business, and what journalists REALLY think about Vapour…
How did you first get into the world of tech?
I come from the comms side of tech and started out in the industry in 2006. I worked for a PR agency with a varied client base, at the time, but naturally gravitated towards the ‘geekier’ of businesses. These were the stories I found the most thought-provoking, especially if you could debunk the jargon and relate to stakeholders at any level. In 2013, I left to focus solely on technical communications – and ‘ta dah’, here I am at Vapour.
And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?
I had a rainbow-coloured kids’ typewriter, not long after I could walk. As I grew up, I advanced to a PC, practically the size of our dining table!
What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?
One is hard, as there are lots of values that differentiate Vapour in a crowded tech space. But I’d probably say energy. The pace of innovation is fast, and the appetite to solve customers’ challenges never stops. This is in the DNA of the whole team, not just the CEO, which means there’s always something to talk about. This energy keeps us all moving forward.
And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?
The perception that all suppliers exploit how complex it is. This view suggests dishonesty or a lack of transparency – and don’t get me wrong, some companies will take advantage of how ‘green’ customers can be. But that’s not Vapour – and I’m sure there are other companies equally passionate about banishing this misconception. Yes, it’s complicated sometimes, but there’s always a way to explain it, honestly and respectfully so that everyone in the room can make informed decisions.
Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?
I am genuinely proud of the Vapour brand. I don’t just mean the logo (although it’s cool, right?) I mean the reputation Vapour has carved for itself, despite not being the biggest player – we’re not nestled in a city centre tech district either. But I spoke to a journalist the other day and he said: “I used to think you punched above your weight – and I admired Vapour for that. Now I realise you rightfully have a seat at the table.”
Quite often, it’s Vapour bringing new innovations to market, and word is continually spreading – especially because we’re so human in our approach. And I’m on a mission to keep telling that story, so more people know it!
Complete the sentences:
The best piece of tech ever invented is... any device to play music – I couldn’t be without it.
The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... probably a kiddy gadget – I’m a mum of two girls under four, so let’s face it, practically every penny goes on them. One thing I’d love someone to invent, is a savvy device that knows what I’m thinking and types it up for me. If someone could please let me know if it already exists, that’d be great!
A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Champion Health – a digital employee wellbeing platform.
The biggest misconception in the channel is that... it’s all smoke and mirrors. Let’s have more conversations that everyone can understand – that’s when businesses will rightfully get excited about what tech can do.
By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more... efficient. Whether that’s in terms of collaborating with colleagues, moving traffic securely around the network, or automating even the simplest of processes to free up the time of their workforce.
Now that face-to-face events are back, next month some of our colleagues will be heading to Birmingham’s NEC for the Channel Live expo. With over 40 presentation and panel discussions centred around business, people, technology, and skills, the event seeks to keep industry professionals abreast of the latest issues impacting the Channel – not least to bolster growth and success through practical business advice.
Joining an expert line-up of industry panellists – including WISE Campaign CEO, Kay Hussain, and Jola’s chief marketing officer, Cherie Howlett – is our very own head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty. Taking to the stage in Conference Theatre 3 at 11:15AM on day one (30th March), Carol with delve into the fundamentals of attracting more women into the next generation telecoms workforce.
With a rich career history spanning over 22 years’ experience in the telecoms sector – from provide manager at Virgin Media Business, to her current position at Vapour – Carol is perfectly placed to deliver valuable insight into this topic. Bridging every gap between sales, operations, the technical team, and ongoing support, she is not only the lifeblood of our company, but a true ambassador for women in tech.
And if that wasn’t enough, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer is also set to deliver a session of his very own the following afternoon. Leveraging over 20 years’ experience in the IT sector – and his strategic entrepreneurial insight – Tim will tap into the opportunities associated with Technology as a Service (TaaS) the market hasn’t yet thought about, for the channel and customers alike. For this must-see discussion, you can find Tim in Conference Theatre 2 from 3:15-3:45PM on 31st March.
“Just because tech is changing, doesn’t mean the role of conferencing has. There’s such a buzz around face-to-face events, and the benefits are unparalleled – from facilitating learning and driving personal and professional development, to fuelling continuous inspiration. There’s just so much creative potential when it comes to in-person engagement,” says Tim.
“And people play a crucial role in spearheading growth. It’s all about sharing your knowledge and experience with others during what is such an exciting time for the industry, to build a stronger market together.”
Whether you’re looking to expand your portfolio and integrate best-of-breed technologies into your organisation, or seeking new partners and business opportunities, Channel Live offers an unrivalled opportunity for tech and telecoms professionals alike.
Sign up is completely free, although attendees are encouraged to pre-register their interest to guarantee a place, here.
If you spot a familiar face, please don’t hesitate to come and say hello. We look forward to seeing you!
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.
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.
Want to research a little further first? Check out our TeamsLink information hub.