As the third quarter of 2023 comes to a close, the tech world has once again proven its dynamism and innovation. From breakthroughs in artificial intelligence to advancements in sustainable tech, we’ve seen some exciting products and strategies take shape. Let's delve into the biggest tech news stories that have turned heads during this period…
Google sent ripples of excitement through the tech community after its Cloud Next conference. The event saw announcements of new AI features for Google Meet, potentially transforming the way we approach meetings.
One standout feature is the real-time note-taking capability powered by Google's Duet AI. With a simple click of "take notes for me," this intelligent tool captures meeting summaries and actions items as the discussion unfolds, ensuring that you'll never miss crucial details
Even if you're late to the meeting, Google Meet has your back with mid-meeting summaries, allowing you to quickly catch up on what you missed. Now, this is something we’re excited to see.
In July, Gartner forecasted that global IT expenditure would reach $4.7 trillion in 2023, reflecting a 4.3% rise compared to the previous year. With IT talent becoming increasingly scarce, CIOs are adapting by reallocating their budgets towards technologies that facilitate automation and enhance efficiency. This strategic shift aims to promote scalable growth while requiring fewer personnel in administrative, manual roles, and allowing businesses to recruit talent for strategic, value-adding jobs instead.
IBM announced its plan to purchase Apptio, a software firm currently under the ownership of Vista Equity Partners, in a significant deal valued at $4.6 billion. Apptio specialises in delivering software for financial and operational IT management and optimisation, serving a diverse clientele of over 1,500 companies, which includes well-known technology giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
Apple's stock achieved an unprecedented milestone, attaining a historic closing price and drawing closer to a market capitalisation of $3 trillion. The shares of the renowned iPhone manufacturer rose by 0.6%, reaching $189.25, thereby pushing Apple's market valuation to $2.98 trillion, according to data from Refinitiv. This signifies the second consecutive occurrence of record-high closing prices for Apple's shares.
This success reflects the power of brand consistency and customer experience. Apple sells recognisable products which have remained fairly unchanged from one model to the next. Yet, consumers and businesses still buy into it, year in and year out. With interesting in-store experiences, Apple conferences, exciting box opening events and more, the company has got something seriously right from day one.
Meta's recent launch of Threads marks a significant move in the social media landscape, directly challenging Twitter's stronghold on text-based conversations. Positioned as Instagram's "text-based conversation app," Threads bridges the gap between image-centric platforms and the need for straightforward, real-time communication.
With Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's CEO, at the helm, this strategic move demonstrates Meta's commitment to expanding its influence in the social media sphere and catering to users who have sought alternatives to Twitter's format.
On August 8th, information regarding the names, locations, and roles of police officers and personnel in Northern Ireland was publicly disclosed on the internet. The data was accidentally disclosed to the public by the police while they were handling a standard freedom of information (FOI) request. At the request of the PSNI and upon their awareness of the situation, the data was taken down after being publicly available for two and a half hours.
This instance highlights the growing need for vigilance among employees at organisations, with human error still being the biggest cause of breaches. Data security is paramount in today’s day and age, and more emphasis needs to be put on comprehensive employee training, strict security protocols, and continuous monitoring to safeguard sensitive information and prevent costly mistakes from occurring.
Microsoft entered the highly competitive secure service edge (SSE) landscape by introducing a software suite designed to safeguard Windows, Azure customers, and various cloud-based enterprise assets. This new software is a component of Microsoft's Entra identity and network access suite, featuring two novel components known as Entra Internet Access and Entra Private Access. These components are dedicated to managing and enhancing the security of cloud-based resources. Together with Microsoft's pre-existing cloud-access security broker (CASB), known as Microsoft Defender for Cloud apps, these elements constitute Microsoft's comprehensive SSE offering.
The advent of "smartphones on wheels" is introducing a new dimension of cybersecurity risks previously unseen on our roads. As vehicles become increasingly connected and equipped with sophisticated technologies, they also become potential targets for cyberattacks.
From autonomous cars to modern electric vehicles, these smart machines are more reliant than ever on software and data-driven systems. Consequently, the potential for malicious hackers to compromise vehicle safety, privacy, and functionality has grown significantly. Addressing these emerging cybersecurity challenges is paramount to ensure not only the security of our roads but also the trust and safety of those who rely on these advanced vehicles.
With conversations in the tech sector revolving heavily around generative AI right now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the industry over the coming month as 2023 draws to a close.
Ready to leverage these tech advancements for your business? Contact the Vapour team today to discuss your unique IT needs and stay at the forefront of innovation in 2023.
It’s no secret that the global tech sector is advancing at an astonishingly rapid pace – not least in relation to the now integral role of digital transformation in spearheading growth and success. But no matter the size or scope of your organisation – or how sophisticated your innovation strategy is – the only way to drive significant change is to leverage the power of people.
So, to champion some of the industry’s finest talent, and gain some insight into the minds of individuals from across the tech space, we’re inviting friends and partners of the business to take part in our quickfire Q&A.
Up next, it’s Nick Halliday, CEO at IDS Group…
Tell us about your role at IDS and the part you play in the tech sector.
At IDS, we help provide stability and reliability in technology systems, using various methodology and approaches to ensure systems can scale and become more complex and integrated over time.
As a CEO and business owner, I play a central role in leading our organisation through its next exciting chapter — whatever product, service, collaboration, or technical partnership we may be in at that time. It’s not just about motivating and engaging internal teams either — it’s just as important to enthuse all clients and stakeholders to come on innovative journeys with us.
What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?
It’s more of a slow build to success rather than a sudden turning point, but we found we were particularly good at inventing, innovating, and designing new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products. Our tech-agnostic approach means we see our clients’ challenges from every perspective, and deliver solutions based on their specific needs. We can be brought in at any stage to help strengthen applications, maximise investments, and more.
And where’s next for your business?
More growth, both organically and through potential acquisition. We’re really happy with the clients we have and want to expand with them — strengthening our business even further, internally, will enable us to support their growth too.
The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…
That you can have ’fast’, ‘cheap’ and ‘good’ all in the same offering, without some sort of compromise. Rarely is that ever the case. If it is, alarm bells should be ringing!
What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?
People are looking for more and more monitoring, for enhanced efficiency and protection — including software tools/apps, better connections (IoT), more intelligence (AI), or better processes and systems to record events accurately (golden thread).
What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?
Learn the basics in a split fashion — for example, gain ‘hands on’ experience in traditional software, and then apply it to emerging technologies.
The next purchase on my personal tech wish list is…?
A small two-seater plane called an ICON Aircraft, that can land on water. It’s simple, lightweight, and, better still, costs less to buy and run than a supercar and only needs 20 hours training. What could go wrong ☺?
And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?
Being told by the newspaper industry that I needed to research what the internet could do to content — they were worried it was going to ruin the newspaper industry forever. Look how far we’ve come!
What is one longstanding piece of tech you are shocked is still used today?
A traditional TomTom sat-nav — and (I think) my mum still has one. With Google Maps and other in-built smartphone apps that easily route plan, I’d have thought they’d be redundant by now.
Finally, if you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?
Pen and paper. My notebook still has my more meandering thoughts. So I would read through, plan, think and find more time to develop whatever I have scribbled down in there.
For over 10 years, we’ve been plugging our toolkit with only the most sophisticated solutions the market has to offer. And recently, we were reeling with excitement over the news that two of our trusted partners — Veeam and Microsoft — are partnering to bring unprecedented speed and scale of backup and recovery experiences to customers. But why is the new Microsoft 365 Backup solution currently making headlines, and what benefits will it bring to SMEs across the UK? Let’s explore…
As business continuity strategies come into sharper focus, the tech world has seen rising demand for robust backup solutions. More specifically, customers are becoming increasingly aware of their shared responsibility to own and protect their critical data — a principle that has formed the bedrock of Microsoft’s Software as a Service (SaaS) offering for over a decade. The widespread adoption of Veeam’s Backup for Microsoft 365 solution, which is being used to protect over 15 million users today, is testament to this ongoing shift.
Safeguarding services including Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams, the critical data service offers peace of mind against everything from accidental file deletion and insider threats, to legal and compliance requirements, hybrid email deployments, and more. It also boasts the lowest recovery point objectives (RPO) — in other words, the maximum amount of data that can be lost after a disaster occurs — the broadest set of recovery options, and the flexibility to back up Microsoft 365 data to any location.
By integrating the existing solution with the newly-launched Microsoft 365 Backup, via their backup APIs — essentially protocols that allow different software applications to communicate with each other — Veeam is set to offer Microsoft customers new innovations and experiences that will enhance data protection, bolster ransomware recovery, and keep business operations running seamlessly.
“Microsoft has revolutionised the ways organisations communicate. And with every update, its proposition gets even more exciting,” said Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour. “But let’s not forget that a comprehensive backup isn’t one of the tool’s in-built capabilities. Disasters can strike at any time and paralyse firms, irrespective of their size or the sector they operate in, which is why a third-party backup is an essential part of any business continuity plan.
“Serving over 400,000 companies across the globe with their data backup and recovery solutions, with 4.7/5 star distinction via Gartner Peer Insights, Veeam is the natural choice to bridge this gap for Microsoft. And, as a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (Microsoft CSP) — not to mention a Veeam partner — we’re the safe pair of hands customers need, to help manage their stack and make supplier relationships as headache-free as possible.”
With the integration already underway, general availability of Veeam’s updated offering is expected within 90 days of the Microsoft 365 Backup service being available.
As the vanguard of cloud technology solutions, Vapour’s industry-leading toolkit continues to spin tales of seamless integration, security, and scalability in the connectivity world — with the renewals of organisations from finance to design echoing the resounding success of our support. Here are some of the hottest services that made waves throughout our client base in Q2…
Both steadfast partners since 2014, telecommunications service provider Zest4 and leading construction firm Seddons increased their reliance on Vapour’s connectivity solutions this quarter. Tapping into Veeam’s private backup, the resilience of Zest4’s co-location facility further underpins its disaster recovery strategy and business continuity. Meanwhile Seddon’s renewal of WAN bolsters the firm’s TeamsLink-powered unified communications network, enabling streamlined communication for the growing, and increasingly flexible, workforce.
A creative force since 2016, design and printing specialist H. Charlesworth and Co Limited is empowered by Vapour’s primary and backup connectivity circuits — enhancing the reliability, performance, and resiliency of their network infrastructure. With the added reliability and flexibility of voice telephony, the organisation can foster seamless communication, enhance productivity, and deliver exceptional customer experiences too.
In the realm of call centres, UMI’s TeamsLink renewal bolsters the health of its communication ecosystem, enabling seamless collaboration, improving agent productivity, and enhancing customer experiences through features like MIFID II compliant call recording, advanced skills-based call routing, customised Power BI reporting and so much more.
Andrew Wright and Co Limited, an accountancy firm which is now three years into its partnership with Vapour, wholeheartedly entrusted our team with the auto-renewal of its phone channels and telephony service.
In the fast-paced space of retail, where every interaction shapes the customer's perception, a major UK fashion brand recognises the paramount importance of delivering a seamless customer experience. To achieve this, they have harnessed the power of Vapour's secure and scalable co-location infrastructure, providing a robust foundation to house their mission-critical applications, safeguard customer data, optimise their supply chain management, and elevate their online shopping experience to new heights of sophistication.
Keen to learn more about any of the technologies described here? Get in touch with one of our experts today.
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.”
For those who don’t know, ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art natural language processing tool, driven by AI technology, that has been making waves across a whole host of sectors recently. Now being leveraged as the brainpower behind Microsoft 365’s latest update, Copilot, the platform is set to have a greater number of applications, and more intuitive functionality, than ever.
So, what does this mean for the UK’s most ambitious organisations? Here, Vapour CEO Tim Mercer offers up some insight…
Give yourself five minutes on ChatGPT and you’ll instantly see how powerful the tool is. Integrate it into the world’s leading productivity cloud, and that impact will grow tenfold.
The architecture has been trained on an endless corpus of text data, making it an ideal solution for natural language processing and word-based tasks. Augmenting organisations’ existing Microsoft systems or able to be implemented as an entirely new solution, it’s a truly game-changing development for firms looking to stay ahead of the curve in terms of productivity and innovation.
Of course, being in its infancy, there are a handful of iterations to come before the service works seamlessly. But, more than simply embedding ChatGPT into Microsoft 365, here are three ways the enterprise-ready Copilot AI system is set to supercharge productivity…
Augmenting the customer experience
With features such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and automated support, leveraging the power of ChatGPT to enhance communication capabilities will take the customer experience to a whole new level — improving engagement by providing timely and accurate responses to enquiries.
Crucially, this won’t replace humans. Instead, it will free up teams for more complex, revenue-generating tasks — leaving manual, laborious work in the hands of capable technology, and maximising business efficiency across the board.
For businesses already using Microsoft 365, the integration of ChatGPT will be a straightforward process. Microsoft has announced that the technology will be merged into the platform's existing tools — including Teams, Word, and Outlook — meaning features will be available for use almost immediately.
For companies looking to implement the pairing as an entirely new solution, the process is equally simple. Microsoft's suite of tools is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, making it easy to get started with the platform. Plus, as a cloud-based solution, it’s ideal for geographically dispersed teams too — with applications able to be accessed from any location, at any time.
Unlocking seamless collaboration
This update is significant from an internal productivity perspective too. It means that you can finally say goodbye to clunky interfaces and hello to seamless collaboration. Imagine being able to ask Microsoft 365 a question in the same way you would ask a colleague, and getting an instant response that is accurate and helpful.
And that's not all. ChatGPT is also capable of generating text — not just interpreting it — which means that Microsoft 365 can now help you write emails, reports, and even presentations, as well as summarise key points of an email thread or Teams meeting. No more staring at a blank page or struggling to remember details. Just tell Microsoft 365 what you want to achieve, and the AI will do the heavy lifting.
At Vapour, we believe that technology should be harnessed to empower businesses and individuals to achieve their full potential. If you are interested in learning more about how Vapour can help you provide a competitive edge with Microsoft 365, get in touch to discuss your custom solution, today.
The media headlines may suggest tech spending caution, but it’s been Vapour’s busiest new year start since the company’s story began in 2013.
With the education sector demonstrating particular interest in our cloud security infrastructure, and our project with Seddon Construction prompting heightened demand from that industry — especially for our TeamsLink product and SD-WAN solutions for satellite sites — it’s been a diverse few weeks in pre-sales.
But our renewals team has been very active too, with a number of clients continuing to choose Vapour as their cloud tech partner for the coming years.
From simple workplace connectivity to more complex digital transformation support, we’ve seen long-term contract extensions from customers in retail, legal, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, to name just a few.
Long-standing partner ITG Technologies — a customer since 2015 — has chosen Vapour as its ongoing cloud storage provider, for example. Textile firm MITHA Enterprises has renewed a 300MB lease line for 36 months, Holmes Mann Packaging has re-selected Vapour for its two hosted servers and 2TB Veeam backup, and we’re renewing the telephone network for C&D Plumbers Merchants — a Leeds-based organisation that has been with Vapour since 2017.
These are just some of the highlights, and that’s before we announce our new customer orders, soon to be revealed over the coming months.
Commenting on the busy start to 2023, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer said: “I’m not about to sit here and say it’s been easy. The technology sector is turbulent at the moment, with ripples being felt one week to the next — especially at a vendor level.
“However, while I’ve naturally kept a close eye on what’s going on beyond Vapour’s four walls, we’ve otherwise tried to avoid distractions and remain focused on what we’re here to do — providing customers with the ‘hidden’ technology to drive greater productivity, security and growth.
“Being chosen as the preferred cloud partner for multiple organisations — often years after we first met — is testament to our commitment to always being there. When we hear customers don’t want to go anywhere else, that’s success.”
Kickstarting our 2023 fundraising calendar with a bang, Vapour is set to host a tech ‘networking event with a difference’ on Thursday 2 February.
Taking to Mad Frans in Leeds – which celebrates the best of Yorkshire produce, with a selection of signature craft beers and ales from local breweries – the Vapour team will welcome guests from across the district, for an evening of quizzing, connecting, and donating, all in aid of nominated charity, Military vs Cancer.
Attendance is free, with doors to the venue opening at 5pm. However, we’ll also be running our very own, multi-format quiz to ramp up entertainment on the evening – ticketed at £10 entry per team of up to four players. All proceeds will, of course, be directed towards supporting cancer patients, their families, and formally-appointed carers across the British Isles.
Did we also mention that there’ll be a whopping £100 cash prize for the winners? Thanks to a handsome addition from Vapour CEO Tim Mercer, those in pole position will be going home with heavier pockets on the night too.
So, if you like bespoke cocktails, premium spirits and craft beers, top-quality quizzes, connecting with like-minded tech professionals, and raising money for worthy causes, this will be right up your street.
Whether you swing by for an hour, or see the whole event through, we’d love to have as many faces as possible there.
Think you have what it takes to be the Vapour quiz champion?
Vapour has been awarded a place on the G-Cloud 13 agreement, as part of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework.
The milestone means that, for the next 12 months, Vapour will feature on the Government’s digital marketplace for public sector organisations searching for cloud computing services. The goal of the framework is to compliantly connect such firms with suitable suppliers, without them needing to run a full tender or competitive procurement process.
Vapour will specifically be available to supply cloud hosting powered by its private cloud infrastructure, with public cloud and hybrid options also available. Regardless of the best-fit solution for any given customer, the goal is to deliver resilience and security, in-built as standard, with an efficient network deployment. Vapour’s private MPLS networks are owned, run and managed by the firm’s own engineers for optimum SLA-focused resilience. Delivering eight classes of service from five ISO27001-accredited UK data centres, it supports the full breadth of multichannel, business critical applications for clients in sectors ranging from healthcare to education, and automotive to construction.
Having completed an extensive, legally binding supplier declaration, Vapour can also supply cloud support services for more complex customer requirements, from the initial conceptualisation and set-up phase of a project through to the ongoing delivery and maintenance of the cloud solution. This is particularly helpful for organisations new to cloud adoption or embarking on a new digital transformation journey, as well as businesses looking for continued support for added peace of mind.
Commenting on the achievement, Vapour’s head of transformation and operations Carol McGrotty, who led the framework application, said: “With a number of public sector organisations in our customer base already, this felt like the logical next step for our business. A place on the G-Cloud 13 agreement almost acts as independent validation that our technologies – and the team underpinning our company – have the ability to provide the cloud support needed in the current climate.
“It was a fantastic way to end 2022.”
5,006 suppliers have been awarded a place on the G-Cloud 13 agreement, which runs until late 2023.
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: