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

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 or 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 Ed Critchley – sales and marketing director at Cheshire-based telecommunications provider, Albeego. Take it away, Ed…

Tell us about your role at Albeego and the part you play in the tech sector.

Albeego offers an innovative way to provide broadband connectivity, whether static or on the move, even in the most hostile environments that are lacking in reliable or stable communications infrastructure. Our bonded technology can, for example, take the strongest cellular signals and combine them to give more secure and high throughput connectivity.

We are carrier agnostic, but even if that in itself is an issue, we can deliver connectivity over TV whitespace – so places such as desserts suddenly become ‘online’.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are
now?


Comms is vital in the military environment – not least to help fulfil security needs – and the inventor of Albeego’s bonded technology had long known that there was a need for more stable and reliable internet connectivity upon his return to the UK from the Middle East in 2018.

Believe it or not, Albeego’s first router was made in a margarine tub, and the turning point was when high definition video could be seamlessly streamed on a train from Wigan to London – proving that the tech was successful! The router worked by connecting to multiple cellular towers and intuitively anticipating which ones should drop and join, while leaving other radios anchored.

And where’s next for your business?

We’re starting to tap into the realm of smart farming and agriculture, and are working with sector leaders to develop technology that we believe will revolutionise this sector going forward.

Food security is big on the agenda right now, and farming has to step up and improve its output to keep pace and become self-sufficient. It’s early days for IoT smart farming, but

Albeego plays a critical role in providing reliable connectivity and communications – whether that’s for tractors out in the field or automated machinery and robotics.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

That innovation comes at a cost. Innovation is now going to be more affordable than any past investment from a hardware and tech perspective, and the ROI is growing rapidly. While cost might be presumed to be an initial barrier to implementing state-of-the-art products and solutions, what it replaces or improves makes the investment worth it in the long run – not only saving time and money, but also providing new benefits and features.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) using IoT connectivity is really gathering pace at the minute. I’m sure there’ll be even more investment to come in those areas over the next year.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

I suppose this is a life rule too, but if it seemed like a good idea at the start, it probably is. Don’t let hurdles and doubts creep in and cloud your judgement, and don’t let self-sabotage talk you out of innovation.

Similarly, if you were never sure in the first place, that’s probably a sign to leave something and move on – knowing when to drop something is really critical to progress.

The next purchase on your personal tech wishlist is…?

I change my tech all the time for the latest iterations of existing products, such as my PC or phone, but I’m due an upgrade for my drone.

I love photography and video, and can often be found filming footage of interesting historical sites on my travels abroad, so it would be great to get the latest version for better camera capabilities.

And what is the earliest memory you have of tech in your life?

When I was a child, we went to Florida on a family holiday – it must have been around 1980 at Disney World, I remember taking a family picture and having it developed on a dot matrix printer – looking back, it doesn’t look much like us at all, but it was so cutting edge at the time. We were all totally wowed by it and showed our friends and family when we arrived home.

What is one longstanding piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

There are two that spring to mind:
1. AOL dial-up internet access – before broadband, people would use a standard phone line and an analogue modem to access the internet at one pence per minute, and over two million people still use it today! Perhaps it’s residents in rural places or those resistant to change who can’t move away from tradition, but this statistic is so bizarre to me. They clearly need an Albeego solution!

2. Vinyl – I used to DJ using vinyl when I was young and I loved it, but I’m amazed it’s made its way back into popularity. I thought its time had been and god for good!

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’ve taken golf up recently again with my son, but would definitely need more than an hour for that, so I supposed I would read a book.

I’m a bit of a book collector, so have lots on the shelf that I could pick up. I’m quite sad that I actually have two copies of some books – one for reading and one to keep in perfect condition. It’s a mix of subject matter really, but mainly I love historical books with a slight twist – I’m currently reading one about Ancient Egypt, which is a bit of a hybrid between fiction and non-fiction.

I’m also currently co-authoring a book with a friend in Denmark about the Knights Templar, so perhaps I could pass some time putting pen to paper with ideas, too.

 

It is Jordan’s turn in the spotlight this month, as he tells us about his days of playing FIFA 2004 on a PlayStation 1, his hope to see flying Tesla cars, and how he thinks the best piece of tech invented is the smart phone. 

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I initially wanted to be an electrician. Whilst I was doing my electrical courses in 2012, I was pleasantly introduced to my colleges 3x 48u racks full of cables, switches, and routers. Ever since I set my eyes on this, I was fixated. I asked my electrical tutor more questions about the rack than I did about 3 phase induction motors. 

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

My earliest memory has got to be playing FIFA 2004 on the PlayStation 1. I was bad at this game and probably experienced too many angry moments by not being able to score goals on easy mode. 

As well as this, the first time I can remember being exposed to tech was having my first mobile phone – a Nokia 65000 – and downloading the soundtrack to ‘War of the Worlds’ from a well-known free website called ‘LimeWire’. I had to transfer it onto one phone and then Bluetooth it over to my own phone – this took 3 hours!

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

I wouldn’t pinpoint one skill specifically. To thrive I think people need to have multiple skills. For example, Vapour is full of individuals with a broad range of skillsets, and this is where I feel I fit in well. 

I would say being diverse would make people thrive in any environment, especially at Vapour where technology is at its forefront. 

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

I wouldn’t change anything. I think the direction we’re heading in should help develop the world and help us understand what we need to do in the future. 

Although, I would like to see flying Tesla’s in a few years so if Elon can hurry up with that before I’m to old to drive and need a bus pass.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

I think Vapour can service and manage any business model, with its vast range of technology offerings. There aren’t many companies out there that can offer this many and be good at it. 

Vapour offers numerous products that are great and still provides excellent service to the market. 

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... a Smart Phone

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wish list is... an 8k TV 65”, keychron k2 keyboardA tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Amazon

Tell us about your role at Content Guru and the part you play in the tech sector.

As a business development manager, I’m responsible for account management and working closely with new clients, customers and partners. As a cloud communications provider, it’s also important to keep on top of industry trends, to understand the new and emerging challenges that organisations face and how technology can help.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

The cloud. Where would we be without it – especially since the pandemic?!

And where’s next for your business?

We’re currently expanding our global reach into the US which is very exciting!

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

That price should be a core deciding factor – organisations need to carefully consider requirements, alongside how providers/solutions can best meet the needs of the organisation and what value the solution or service is delivering above simply cost saving.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

The pandemic has led businesses to diversify their communication channels and has opened the door to an increase in self-service solutions to help address resource limitations. As we start to navigate out of the pandemic and adapt to a more permanent hybrid way of working, we’re likely to see more of this as an effort to support organisations.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

It’s really important to keep your eye on industry trends and to learn your products inside and out. The technology sector can be full of jargon and complex terminology, so knowing in detail what the products and services are capable of means you can add extra context for customers to break down those barriers.

The next purchase on my personal tech wishlist is…?

New PC parts – I’ve taken on the task of building my own computer!

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

An Xbox!

What is one longstanding piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

A fixed home landline. You see them less and less in homes today, but there are still some around.

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

Going for a drive. There is something about getting on the road that is just so relaxing.

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.

Renowned commercial property rental specialist Towndoor has renewed its connectivity agreement with cloud tech firm Vapour, as the two popular Huddersfield brands near a decade of working together.

The relationship initially began with the supply of managed internet lines for Towndoor’s Holmfirth HQ and Dyeworks industrial property. Powering the organisation’s business-critical operations as well as tenants’ own connectivity, the 100mb lines have long proven their quality of service, however busy Towndoor has been.

But mindful of the company’s upcoming growth plans, Operations Director Jack Dixon sought an upgraded connectivity package to support the firm’s evolving cloud tech infrastructure.

“We are continuing to expand our commercial property portfolio in Huddersfield and Holmfirth, with the development of additional facilities including our recently launched café and some upcoming new industrial units,” Jack said. “It is vital that as we look ahead to future growth, nothing holds us back. Vapour has powered our connectivity for nearing a decade, and they’ll be our ISP long into the future too.”

Impressed by the level of personal service delivered since the relationship began, Towndoor still conducted due diligence when it came to the upgrade project.

“Our latest Vapour contract was signed three years previously, and it’s only right that we benchmarked their quality of service and price point against the wider market, for peace of mind,” Jack continued. “Once again, they did not disappoint.”

Vapour has therefore rolled out 500mb over 1000mb connectivity.

“While Towndoor’s operations are not IT-heavy, we are renowned for being at the forefront of adopting the latest systems and technologies, particularly if they will have a positive impact on customer service levels,” concluded Jack. “We were therefore keen to futureproof our internet provision, so that we’re equipped with the speeds and uptime we will need, as we grow.”

“We have clients throughout the UK, not least because we have a satellite presence in Scotland, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and London, to complement our Huddersfield HQ,” added Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer. “But there’s something quite special about cultivating and sustaining a relationship with a fellow local business, especially one as respected as Towndoor.

“Like us, they don’t stand still, and it’s a pleasure to work alongside a progressive, ambitious firm like that. Despite all their success to date, I still feel like there’s an awful lot to come from this continually-expanding team. It’s great to play even a small part in supercharging their growth.”

Read the case study in full

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 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 or 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’ 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 Craig Webster – contracts manager at award-winning IT service provider, Mint Support. Take it away, Craig…

Tell us about your role at Mint Support and the part you play in the tech sector.

As contracts manager, I’m responsible for maintaining and developing relationships with our new and existing customers – I’m always on the lookout for improvements in both service and delivery. Mint provides managed support services, primarily for the education sector, but also for businesses too.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

IT is continually developing, so keeping abreast of developments and being able to support customers through these changes is key. You could say that the PC and internet were the innovations that allowed us to ‘exist’, and their continuous developments mean we are always working alongside new technology.

And where’s next for your business?

We’re migrating into communication technology and making the most of remote tools to deliver services to customers further afield.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

That technology will solve everything.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

Further development in AI and automation – that is definitely a trend I expect to see grow. I also think that we will see much more focus on sustainability and greener solutions within the tech space over the coming months.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel their tech career?

Remember that technology is there to make life better for the end user. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people.

The next purchase on my personal tech wishlist is…?

I’d love a drone – using that technology to capture creative video and photography appeals to me.

What is one longstanding piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

The vinyl record – but I’m glad it still exists.

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’m a simple guy who remembers a time before the internet, so I can think of plenty of things. For me, I enjoy getting out of the house for a long walk and spending time with my family and friends. I think that sometimes, even if the internet is working fine, we should switch off, as it is easy to get distracted.

We have received a growing number of enquiries over the past two weeks, from customers concerned about the threat of cyberattacks. And the number of people contacting us in search of guidance is continuing to rise. Our head of transformation and operations – Carol McGrotty – has therefore summarised our advice in this short post. If you wish to discuss this any further, please contact our Service Desk at gethelp@vapourcloud.com, and we will do our best to assist.

With Russian military operations currently underway in Ukraine, the question of whether cyber warfare will also be employed remains unanswered.

Vapour is liaising with Tier 1 providers – with no known immediate threat – and shall continue to do so.

There is a heightened sense of concern being felt by many organisations. Our focus is to help clients prepare for potential cyberattacks. For that, we have put together this cyber readiness checklist. While many of these suggestions are standard cyber hygiene protocols and best practices, simple actions can also go a long way towards fighting against cyberthreats.

Key takeaways

Access: Review admin access to Firewalls and Firewall policies to ensure only permitted access has been given and not open to vulnerabilities

Patching: Ensure that all systems are fully patched and updated

Protection Databases: Make sure your security tools have the latest databases

Backup: Create or update offline backups for all critical systems

Phishing: Conduct phishing awareness training and drills

Hunt: Proactively hunt for attackers in your network using the known TTPs of Russian threat actors

Emulate: Test your defences to ensure they can detect the known TTPs of Russian threat actors

Response: Test your incident response against fictitious, real-world scenarios.

We hope you find this helpful, and if you have any queries, please contact our Service Desk at gethelp@vapourcloud.com.

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