Experienced industry professional Glenn Ollivant has joined the team as senior account director, exactly 15 years after he was first hired and trained by CEO, Tim Mercer.

Glenn switched from selling stainless steel to circuits back in October 2006, when Tim – then regional sales manager at Virgin Media Business (formerly TeleWest) – saw his potential. He quickly found his feet in the tech sector, progressing up the ranks at Virgin, before moving on to enterprise sales roles at Kcom and TalkTalk Business. 

Departing as TalkTalk’s technology and UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) specialist, his name remains firmly in the record books having secured what is still one of the company’s largest ever deals.

And now he’s back working alongside some familiar faces, including Vapour’s head of transformation and operations Carol McGrotty, and sales manager Alec Stephens - who also propelled their careers following long stints at Virgin.

Things may have come full circle for Glenn in terms of his team mates, but the opportunity firmly represents his most exciting move yet, he believes.

“I’ve watched the Vapour journey with utmost respect for what Tim and the team have done,” commented Glenn. “We all knew the market wasn’t ready for a pure cloud offering when Vapour was launched in 2013. But the ambition, drive and foresight means that bold leap is now paying off - especially because organisations’ adoption of cloud tech has rocketed over the past 18 months.

“Working both with partners and now directly with end customers too – on more conventional solutions such as Unified Communications and backups, as well as cutting-edge virtual desktop infrastructures, secure networks for hybrid working, and even robotic process automation – this is absolutely the right next step for me. I’ve set myself bold targets, never mind the goals that have been outlined as part of my role!”

Glenn’s appointment represents the latest senior hire for us at Vapour, in the year we rebranded and evolved our toolkit to include next generation cloud tech, far beyond traditional voice, networks and storage mainstay.

Pushing for 20% revenue growth by the end of 2022, Glenn’s appointment will prove critical to the expansion of the new and existing business pipeline – not to mention the market better understanding what Vapour 2.0 can do.

“People of Glenn’s calibre don’t come along every day,” admitted CEO Tim Mercer. “I know – I mentored him! But the time is right for us to join forces once again, not least because the market is opening up again and we have the same attitude when it comes to supporting customers. His quality of service is outstanding, and he knows exactly what you can achieve in organisations if you’re agile, inquisitive and collaborative.”

“I’m really excited by Vapour’s tech stack,” added Glenn. “We can transform customers’ resilience and productivity, even with some simple tweaks to their infrastructure. And that energises me.

“That, and Vapour’s culture. I want to put some vibrancy back into my career.”

Application performance, Borne, and consolidations… it’s been such a busy quarter for Vapour boss Tim Mercer, he could probably get through an A-Z of musings! But here are his highlights from the last three months…

Well, it’s the quarter when the world usually slows to a different pace because of the summer holidays, but with face-to-face contact resuming and the final Covid restrictions being lifted, there’s been a different energy in the business environment over the last three months.

We’ve had more ‘real life’ interaction with customers, and each other, since the start of July, and our charity golf day provided a fantastic opportunity to get together in a different setting, and catch up while raising a few pounds for Borne - £6385 to be precise!

I headed to Technology Live earlier this week too, and was pleased to see such a buzz about the place. Because of course, as CEO of a tech firm, I welcome the use of applications and platforms to help us do business, but you still can’t beat in-person dialogue, for certain types of interaction, such as this.

I sat on a panel which debated the topic of collaboration and diversification - two themes which have been core to Vapour’s evolution over the years.

There are different trains of thought on this topic, of course, which goes some way to explaining the sheer amount of ongoing M&A activity in the space right now. I don’t think this will slow any time soon, either. Many organisations are encountering challenges because they haven’t ‘kept up’, so their customer base alone presents an attractive opportunity for other firms. There are also pioneering innovators who are extremely hot right now, and the value of some of the deals being done reflects just how critical their engineering is to the future of workplace tech.

In terms of tech capabilities, generally, we’re seeing an increasing amount of interest at board level, surrounding what cloud products and services can now do. Where senior decision makers maybe wouldn’t have given tech procurement such a great degree of thought previously - beyond the size of the investment perhaps - they now want to be far more involved in the conversation. I think this reflects the fact that perceptions have changed, and people realise just how much of an enabler tech is (not to mention just how catastrophic a security flaw could be if remote working put sensitive data at risk, for instance!)

The customer experience (CX) is dominating strategic agendas - particularly in crowded industries - and the benefits that tech can leverage, could prove a key differential in this respect, for many businesses.

In terms of the tech that’s proving hot for Vapour, of course we’re still providing services like circuits and helping customers with some simple backup needs. But demand is also growing for solutions such as TeamsLink, which better leverages the communications capabilities of Microsoft users; SD-WAN which gives network control back to IT teams regardless of employee location; and application performance management which helps show organisations the true root cause of their bandwidth issues.

Such technologies - and the findings that often emerge from the projects that these solutions influence - aren’t just driving ICT related change. They’re being used to overhaul how entire business processes are managed - even how organisations are run. This is the power of the cloud, and it’s great to see minds being opened up on a broader scale, as to the role it plays in company resilience, as well as connectedness and compliance.

There’s a definite shift in the market towards true cloud players who understand this narrative - who come at a problem with a desire to fix it, not simply push a specific piece of kit. There’s an apparent desire to consolidate the number of suppliers that businesses rely on too - a trend which will no doubt continue, especially when the providers can grow to feel like an extension of organisations’ own teams.

In terms of the team dynamic within organisations, this quarter has continued to prove an interesting one. I spoke to Prolific North recently - about what I’ve learnt throughout my career, not just the last 18 months - and one of the points we explored was the level of understanding in the workplace.

I think, as a society, we have become more open and empathic towards other people, especially regarding mental health and wellbeing. I think sadly it was secondary for many businesses previously - with some organisations merely paying lip service to it. Now, ignorance or carelessness on the subject will not be tolerated, which is important. 

I elaborated on the fact that employees generally have more of a voice too - they’re no longer comfortable with being dictated to. This should make organisations better, more authentic employers, who live and die by their values, rather than simply posting them on their website because they sound good.

The challenge is to establish an approach that suits all - and values that ring true to those concerned - as people are individuals and no two companies are the same. There cannot be a linear top down or bottom-up approach either - the respect must be shared in all directions.

Let’s see what the next quarter brings…

The second quarter of 2021 has flown by quicker than the first, and so much has happened here at Vapour, including some new appointments and an office move over to Lindley in the heart of Huddersfield. Let’s look back at our media highlights from the last three months – click the links throughout to enjoy our coverage.

The launch of our Technology as a Service offering

In June, we launched our TaaS offering, supporting customers with the consistent delivery of high-performance technology, applications, and endpoint security, with proactive device imaging for a seamless user experience. Not only that, but with environmental pressures mounting, we predict the compliant handling of redundant kit will prove particularly popular. With hybrid working set to continue, these solutions can be tailored to customers’ individual requirements with an affordable fixed price per user, which makes a really exciting and flexible service.

Vapour continues to grow with 5 new recruits

Over the last few months, we’ve had some fabulous people join our straight-talking Yorkshire tech team. Our ‘Five key recruits’ announcement was picked up across the press as we continue to progress towards our £7m growth targets. We’re as known for our team as we are for our toolkit, so these five hires have been made at pace, but with extreme precision, as we work hard to hand-select talented individuals. Read the full story over at UK Tech News.

Kicking off fundraising initiatives for Borne

We’ve set our sights on our boldest fundraising target yet, aiming to raise a staggering £23,000 for the charity committed to preventing premature birth – Borne. One of the first fundraising quests comes from CEO Tim Mercer, who has pledged to donate up to 24 days of his time to deliver digital transformation sessions for organisations large and small. We have a whole year to raise money for this fantastic charity, so be sure to follow our journey.

Inspiring women in tech

Our head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, was recently interviewed by WeAreTechWomen as part of an inspirational feature which shared insight into her career in the sector, key advice for her peers, and her go to resources for support information. For Carol, it’s about providing ways to help attract a wider talent pool, and that’s where culture comes into play. You can catch up on the piece, here.

Make sure you stay tuned for more news from Vapour HQ.

We’re halfway through the year – can you even believe it?! In this second instalment of our 2021 technology news roundup, we share some of the innovations and key digital transformation developments that have caught our eye over the last few months.

Here are some of our ‘must shares’…

Covid 19 accelerates AI use

We know that our dependence on technology and the number of people with advancing digital skillsets have accelerated globally as a result of the pandemic. And when it comes to artificial intelligence adoption, it’s interesting to see that the UK now features in the top five countries in the world, alongside Italy, Germany, France, and the US. TechRepublic reports how businesses are embracing it.

Workplace wearables

According to Raconteur, AI looks set to spark the latest office revolution too, with the workplace set to experience a number of further changes over the next 12 months. The use of wearables is one particular trend to keep an eye on!

Does ‘the new normal’ bring heightened cybersecurity risks?

In a 1Q21 global poll of 165 executives on behalf of Gartner, it’s interesting to note that the top three cybersecurity concerns all related to hybrid working. As we know, teams across the country rushed to implement remote solutions back in March 2020, and it seems that as the world now starts to return to some form of normality, these hasty implementations may not be up to scratch.

SD-WAN hits the headlines

Remote working is here to stay, which means organisations need to implement secure, future-proofed systems that keep endpoints and networks safe - and that’s where we shine! Vapour has partnered with Gartner Magic Quadrant-recognised Fortinet, to deliver a highly robust SD-WAN solution, which saw us hit the tech headlines too!

Check out our feature in Comms Business.

Welcome to the first instalment of our 2021 technology news roundup, where we’ll update you on some of the innovations and key developments that have caught our eye in the digital space. At Vapour, we understand how important it is to keep up to date the latest news, views and must-knows. So, we’ll share our straight-talking curation of the highlights, to ensure you’re always on top of the game.

Learn the latest…

The future that UK tech built

Tech Nation’s 2021 report has arrived, sharing the biggest figures, trends, and emerging technology in the industry. From the UK’s 17% rise in deep tech investment – the highest in the world might we add – to 2% growth in local employment in the sector for Yorkshire and the Humber, it’s clear the economic importance of technology is increasing. Read the report to learn more about some of the pioneers changing the landscape for the future of digital innovations.

Creating employee connections

Think the only way to create employee connections is by holding more meetings? Think again. Gartner discussed how the new digital behaviours adopted during the pandemic will translate into a move to hybrid working, and how tailoring strategies, adding value and using the appropriate channel for employee communications, will supercharge your workplace connections.

Covid-19 and its cyber risks

It’s no surprise that internet usage rose during the pandemic, but unfortunately cybercrime followed suit. Not only were 20,000 domains suspended for criminal activity, but there has also been a 20% increase in serious cases. And as workers relocated to a remote setup, the threat moved closer to home. Is your business secure? Let’s talk…

Are you looking for a job in tech?

The BBC reported that the UK is heading towards a technology skills shortage, due to the lack of young talent studying IT subjects. For an industry that’s fuelled by innovation and only set to thrive, we (as technology leaders) need to support the upskilling of talent and champion the technical expertise that’s needed to support the UK’s economic recovery.

Stay tuned for our next news roundup and be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, for more frequent updates from Vapour and the tech space.

He spends at least half of his working week talking to, helping, and getting to know people in business. And now, Vapour Cloud’s CEO Tim Mercer has taken his passion for sharing knowledge – and having a chat – one step further, with the launch of a new podcast series.

Between the Eyes has been months in the making, but with the support of a former BBC sound engineer, an impressive line-up of guests and backing from Vapour, the first episode is now live on Spotify and iTunes.

Five further programmes have also already been recorded.

Designed to get under the skin of businesspeople at varying stages of their career, Between the Eyes centres on having frank, honest and straight-talking conversations about the twists, turns, challenges and – at times – extremely emotive decisions that have gone on to shape the personal and business lives of the guests.

First up is Danny Gray who turned his experience of being bullied at middle school, into the driver to set up War Paint for men. The make-up brand took social media by storm, not least when Danny found himself negotiating on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. In this initial episode, he talks body dysmorphia, raising funds, building a brand, being bold, changing perceptions, educating the market, and giving men a choice.

Commenting on the idea for the series, Tim said: “I know podcasts are nothing new – in fact there are so many out there, it can sometimes prove hard to find the good ones.

“I’m pretty open-minded as to the ones I tune into. Sometimes they’re delivered by people I respect, other times by people I’ve never heard of – occasionally even by people I disagree with quite a bit, but of course that still stimulates my own thoughts. I suppose this actually gave me the push to start Between the Eyes.”

From the very beginning he wanted this podcast series to be different.

“I’ve worked hard to ensure the conversation isn’t ‘vanilla’,” he elaborated. “There’ll be points where the listener thinks, there’s no way he’s going to ask that, surely, and of course, I do. Respectfully, though.

“Before each guest joins me, I’ve done my research – and then some. If they’ve given up the time to share their story with me, I want to show how much I appreciate that, so I put the effort in beforehand so we can have a really impactful conversation in the 40 or so minutes that follow.”

Also set to feature on the show are Harry Bliss, founder of Champion Health; Hugh Campbell, founder of GP Bullhound; entrepreneur Dom Waterson, founder of www.healthbunker.co.uk; founder of johnpc.co.uk John Cunningham, a sales transformation specialist and coach; and founder of Whiteboard Strategies Mark Edwards – a man who once you’ve met, you never forget.

“Podcasts, for me, have become a regular feature of my commute to and from the office,” concluded Tim. “So I’m hoping these will make people laugh, think, learn and develop too.

“It was a genuine pleasure to ‘interview’ some people who have played a really important role in my life. I look forward to seeing what listeners think of their stories and Between the Eyes overall – and of course, I want them to be honest!”

Tune in via your preferred streaming service:

It’s Carol McGrotty’s turn in the spotlight this month – find out what Vapour’s head of operations and compliance would change about the tech sector, why she couldn’t live without her Sat Nav and her thoughts on embracing female talent in the sector…

How did you first get into the world of tech? 

It was fate that led me to a secondment role in January 2000 with NTL (now Virgin Media Business). I stayed there for 12 years and then the opportunity with Vapour Cloud came along.

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

I’m not sure that this technology really changed the world, but when we got an electric typewriter in the house, we definitely thought we had moved with the times!

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

Innovation.  At Vapour we are always curious – and looking for new ways to surprise and delight – as well as finding even better methods of doing things.

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

When it comes to embracing female talent in technical roles, there is still a way to go. The key for future generations is encouragement at both school and apprentice level.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

We have a reputation for working closely – and becoming entwined – with our partners’ sales and marketing teams, which leads to great success rates. We also offer key tools, systems and workshops to third parties – making us different.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...  the Sat Nav. I’d be lost without mine – literally!

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a Fitbit Charge 3.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Spearhead Interactive. Its demonstration of the interactive experiences that virtual reality offers – witnessed at Vapour’s Innovation & Disruption events – was very impressive.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... the industry should be avoided because it’s challenging. This should be a motivator for workers and not a deterrent – it’s why we are so passionate about what we do!

By the end of 2020, our tech will have made organisations far more... private and secure through cloud-based technology – the Vapour network ensures that customers have excellent end-to-end private connectivity.

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