It is Sam’s turn in the spotlight this month, as he tells us about breaking into the tech industry, his love of gaming, and why Tesla’s innovations have been a real stand-out over the last 12 months…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

It’s always been more of a passion than anything. I loved gaming and anything sci-fi related from a young age, and as I grew older, I found a keen interest in building PC’s too.

So, when it came to planning out my career prospects, it seemed like the obvious choice to look at avenues in tech – not least because it’s such a fast-growing industry. I saw Vapour doing great things, and wanted to get my foot in the door.

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

The Atari Joystick was my bread and butter for years. Pacman, Dig Dug – I used to play them all!

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

I’d say willingness to learn and try new things.

Both the tech industry and Vapour as a business are constantly evolving, and innovation never stands still – even the experts don’t know what’s on the horizon at times. That’s why it’s crucial to be open-minded to change and exploration.

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

The jargon. Technical language needs to be simpler across the board.

As much as tech is integrated into the world, there’s a lot of people who don’t know where to start – including employees. When I joined Vapour, I sought the role out directly because the team is so straight-talking and has a proven track record. Others might not be so lucky in getting that entry-level foot in the door.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

First-class products are a given with Vapour, and the results they achieve are testament to their success.

But something that really stands out for me, above all else, is the level of customer service we offer. You can rely on the team 24/7, and customers are constantly firing positive feedback our way.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The Gameboy. It was so ahead of its time in terms of portable gaming, and I spent hours on end during car trips as a child on it.  

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wish list is...

A sturdier pair of headphones – mine always seem to be breaking!

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

I’d have to say Tesla. Having studied environmental sciences at university, electric cars are something that really pique my interest. From supercharging stations to the energy storage Megapacks, they’re always doing something to disrupt the industry!

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

Request your free copy of the innovation forum presentation

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.

As if landing a place on the Leeds Tech Climbers list wasn’t testament enough to our success, Vapour has also been identified as one of the region’s most forward-thinking companies in regards to digital innovation, transformation, and resilience.

Now in its third year of celebration, the Digital Enterprise Top 100 campaign seeks to encourage firms to embrace technology, develop their digital capabilities, and build more resilient infrastructure through the profiling of some of the industry’s trailblazers.

Since day one, Vapour has strived to engineer game-changing cloud technologies, and is always one step ahead to make sure we not only act as a real enabler of our own digital transformation success, but our customers’ too – whether that’s supercharging our toolkit with state-of-the-art Microsoft and SD-WAN solutions, or piloting an innovation forum with resounding success and getting the ball rolling on our net zero strategy. Of course, there’s plenty in the pipeline, too.

But it’s also our people that make a real difference, because just as much as our tech is exciting, the problem solving passion and technical experience across the breadth of our team is what truly drives digital innovation, transformation, and resilience.

In honouring the news to the Vapour collective, CEO Tim Mercer commented: “Quick wins don’t build relationships, so as a company we stay focused on our clients’ long game, and encourage our colleagues to do the same.

“They have been appointed because they are technically brilliant in their own field – whether that’s engineering, operations or sales. So, we give them the freedom to use their intelligence and apply ideas that deliver solutions beyond the obvious. They’re refreshingly tech-agnostic, and each ask the right questions to deliver the sharpest solutions to our customers – even if that means challenging the status quo in the process.”

Head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, added: “We know we can use our tech to liberate businesses. But it’s often the people behind a project who act as a catalyst for change.

“Preparing well, involving employees at all levels in decision-making, and putting the customer at the forefront of ambitions doesn’t only preserve the longevity of digital transformation success, but upholds a sense of authenticity too.”

We couldn’t be prouder to have made the cut, and are delighted to mark the celebratory event on 16 June at Headrow House in Leeds amongst fellow delegates.

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.

Cloud technology specialist Vapour has announced its expansion in Leeds city centre with new workspace in tech hub Platform. This news coincides with two new additions to the company’s engineering team, as the business furthers its fast-paced growth plans.

The additional workspace at Leeds’ well-known coworking space, Platform – adjacent to the railway station – increasing Vapour’s network across the UK, with its HQ in Huddersfield, and satellite bases already in Glasgow, London, and Lancashire.

Vapour’s duo of hires includes cloud voice UC engineer, Graeme McCabe who joins Vapour having worked with Avaya systems for the last five years. In his new role, Graeme will install, troubleshoot, and manage all changes on Vapour’s platforms, working alongside the team to ensure customers have a smooth transition and quality ongoing support.

Further strengthening Vapour’s cloud and networking resources, Jordan Stephenson – as senior cloud and network engineer – will ensure the resilience and efficiencies of Vapour’s services. Focusing on maintenance and diagnostics, as well as uplift and project work around the network infrastructure and cloud environment, his strong background in information technology, following his previous role as network lead at Contrac IT, will be a great asset to the technical team.

Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour, commented: “This is a promising time for the company as we scale to meet the demands of our customers and the ever-growing cloud market. Our new hires Graeme and Jordan will be a huge asset to our technical team, and I welcome them onboard.

Announcing our new workspace at Platform is also a proud moment for me as we’ll share the building with some of the region’s most innovative tech companies. To be able to offer my growing team access to more vibrant office space in a new city is a key part of our ongoing recruitment strategy – not to mention our accessibility for customers seeking face to face time – and I look forward to expanding further throughout the year.”

Two new graduate sales recruits are also set to join Vapour soon, in a fresh collaboration with Pareto Law.
The search is also on for a sales and marketing administrator, with the vacancy now open.

From landing client contracts and speaking at industry events, to securing recognition for our impact and embarking on fundraising endeavours, it’s been an exciting time for Vapour. And as we prepare to launch into our tenth year of growth, we’re yet to see our trajectory stall.

That’s why we’re seeking a new sales and marketing administrator to welcome into the fold immediately. This will be a critical role at the heart of a busy and growing sales team, with an opportunity to also work closely with our CEO and head of communications.

The world is your oyster too. Vapour is passionate about nurturing and retaining talent with tailored career development plans. This role could therefore evolve with progression opportunities in the sales/marketing teams or office management, in the future.

Right now, the priority is the appointment of a committed, outgoing and diligent self-starter, who is extremely organised, has a ‘can do’ attitude, and is looking to grow in a company that cares about its people, customers, charity (Borne), and the environment.

Discover more specifics of the role on offer…

Job title: Sales and Marketing Administrator

Location: Heritage Exchange, Huddersfield

Our vibrant office is located in the heart of a restored textiles mill in Lindley, 5 minutes from the M62 and less than 10 minutes from Huddersfield train station. The bustling location has an on-site deli cafe, gym (with discounted membership for employees), spa, free parking, hair salon, and more.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-5:30pm

This is a full-time position, but flexible working is offered as standard.

Responsibilities include:

Holidays: 20 days per calendar year, plus birthday holiday

Holidays increase 1 day per year following 1 year of service at the start of each holiday calendar – up to a maximum of 5 days.

Additional benefits include:

About the company: Vapour was founded in November 2013, coming to the market with a cloud-first mission that sought to disrupt, innovate, and demystify the world of tech. Since then, we’ve helped organisations of all shapes and sizes unlock significant growth with high-performance strategic technology.

While technology is exciting, innovations starts with people. That’s why we’re known just as much for our team as we are our toolkit, and why each new hire plays an integral role in helping shape our future.

Relevant experience is desirable for this role, but not essential, as full training will be provided to the successful candidate.

So, whether you’re starting out on a new career path, or have a rich history in the sales and marketing industry, we look forward to hearing from you.

Apply now, by sending your CV to: careers@vapourcloud.com   

It’s Graeme’s turn in the spotlight this month. Today he shares that his love for tech stemmed from working on nuclear submarines, expresses his admiration of Apple and debunks the misconception that tech needs to be complicated…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I think I’ve always had an interest in tech. From calibrating reactor instrumentation onboard nuclear submarines in the Royal Navy to piloting remote vehicles on the seabed while offshore, which then led me to enter the telecoms world for the last nine years. 

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

I’m going to show my age here…. I’d say probably a BBC micro when I was at junior school – for those who don’t know, enjoy googling that! I also remember a ZX Spectrum playing Daley Thompsons Decathlon.

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

I don’t believe there is one specific quality needed. I think you need to have many attributes to your persona and then be able to bring them together to get a full understanding of each customer requirement.

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

Too many acronyms…the fact that suppliers and manufacturers produce a similar product but then decide to overcomplicate things by using new acronyms for services and products that already exist.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Before joining Vapour, I spoke to various contacts I have within the industry, and all had positive things to say about the company. From my time here so far, I can see that the company’s biggest assets are the staff and how we pull together to give the customer the best experience we can.

Complete the sentences:

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a Garmin Vivoactive watch – which I’ve just bought myself to monitor my fitness training. 

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Apple. I know this is going to divide the room, but the company is big for me at the minute. 

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... tech needs to be overly complicated.

By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more... collaborative - giving users an increased ability to work in multiple locations.

Published in collaboration with BusinessCloud and Active Profile, Leeds Tech Climbers seeks to showcase the top performing, IP-rich, product-led technology disruptors in the region.

With 40 companies from across the district entering for a chance to see their name on the tally, only half managed to secure recognition for their impact, innovation, and investment. Amongst that group, Vapour continues to trailblaze in the industry.

The 20-strong cohort was unveiled during a prestigious expo at Nexus Leeds on 5 April, with our business development manager Mark Taylor in attendance to celebrate the news.

Speaking on making the list, Mark commented: “It is an absolute privilege for Vapour to be recognised through this industry-leading initiative. We’ve witnessed a remarkable amount of evolution as a business in recent years – with a huge investment in our cloud solutions – and our growth potential is now very significant.

“We work hard to attract and attain the best talent when it comes to partnerships, and we’re extremely proud of the solutions that go into our toolkit. We’re hyper-focused on unleashing flexibility, unlocking growth, and driving change for our customers.

“But we’re as known for our team as we are our technology – because innovation starts with people. By breaking down the jargon that mists the industry and getting under the skin of our customers, we can deliver strategic, seamless, straight-talking support that is central to our ethos.”

We’re thrilled to have landed a place on the list – not least in a region that is thriving as a burgeoning ecosystem of cutting-edge business.

Watch the space!

Catch the official list of Leeds City Region Tech Climbers 2022.

It’s Kian Jackson’s turn in the spotlight this month. Kian has joined the team as part of a work experience programme, as he completes his T-Level qualifications at Calderdale College. With aspirations of one day becoming a senior network engineer, discover how his passion for all things coding and tech have led him here, and his experience with the Vapour team so far. He shares all in our latest Q&A.

Take it away Kian…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

When I was in Secondary School, we covered the basics of simplistic coding, which was my first introduction into working in tech. When it came to choosing my career path, I took the T-Level approach which has allowed me to advance and develop my knowledge, technical ability and skills in the sector. I’m so grateful for these more technical-based qualifications, as I’ve been able to explore the subject in much more detail, with industry examples.

Undertaking work placement opportunities like this with Vapour also allows me to gain real-life experiences to put what I am learning into practice. It’s been a valuable experience so far.

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

Watching my brother play on his computer when I was younger stands out as my earliest memory. He mostly used it to play video games and have fun exploring digital technology – I remember being so surprised at what was possible with such small devices.

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

Creativity and an open mind. In tech there are always a range of different outcomes and ways of doing things. You should be open to options and alternative methods to really excel, rather than being tempted to stick with how it’s always been done previously.

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

I’d like there to be more straight-talking people in tech. When you’re first starting out it’s hard to find mentors and learn from people in different specialist areas. It’s a complex industry and often encounters some barriers in terms of buy-in from colleagues – with more people who understand its capabilities, we could break down those blockers.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

I’ve been really impressed by how the channel works and the partnerships Vapour has within the industry. These collaborations – in addition to the team’s technical experience – means it’s possible to deliver highly personalised and powerful solutions relevant to organisations’ individual needs.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The computer. Just think how reliant we are on its existence, every day at work. In both a personal and professional environment, it allows us to access so much information and has capabilities that very few of us truly capitalise on.

I could say something like the CPU or RAM, but one doesn’t work without the other, so for me it has to be the overall machine itself.

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

A more powerful computer… can you sense a running theme?

It’s great to be able to update specs so you aren’t limited to what you can do, giving me much more variety. Increasing the process power and graphics capabilities will also help with my development in the coding world too.

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

It’s hard to say – most brands that I’m familiar with in the industry often have to collaborate and work together to ensure compatibility across devices, so it’s hard to identify just one.

The biggest misconception in the channel is...

The complexity of code. It’s a completely different language but isn’t given the same acknowledgement. People only see the front-end that’s meant to be viewed by the end-user, without understanding what goes on behind the scenes or what it is truly capable of.

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

Versatile. Often people use technology to fill a particular need, but it can offer so much more than that if you ask the right questions of teams like Vapour.

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