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…

  1. Google announced its AI assistant for Google Meet 

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. 

  1. Gartner predicts worldwide IT spending will total $4.7 trillion in 2023 

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. 

  1. IBM announced its acquisition of hybrid cloud firm Apptio for a staggering $4.6 billion

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.

  1. Apple stock hits record on the cusp of $3 trillion market value

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. 

  1. Meta launches X (formerly known as Twitter) rival Threads 

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. 

  1. PSNI data breach identifies thousands of officers and civilian staff 

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.

  1. Microsoft joins competitors in the security service edge (SSE) arena 

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.

  1. Automotive hacking is on the rise 

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

Guest blogger Ed Winfield attracted a lot of attention on our ‘Knowledge’ page recently, so we thought we’d delve deeper into the business he represents – Content Guru – a long-standing partner which has featured in the Vapour Cloud for years…

  1. Content Guru is widely known in our industry as a leading contact centre solution provider, thanks to the storm® cloud communications platform – but there’s lots more to the firm’s offering, with UC services, comms integration services, a customer data platform, and brain® AI enablement among the suite. It all comes back to their commitment to – Engagement Made Easy.
  1. The firm has been recognised as a ‘Challenger’ in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant for CCaaS, with ambitions to move to the Leaders space – in global terms – as the firm continues to advance its position in the USA particularly. In the UK, we’d argue they’re definitely a market leader already!
  1. Content Guru’s partners are carefully selected to match their goals and values, and Vapour has been working with the organisation for over nine years. Together, we have access to vertical market specialists, meaning solutions are supercharged for public sector, utilities, financial services, insurance, and more – with retail a rapidly emerging area too. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all.
  1. Content Guru is widely perceived as a 500+ seat large contact centre specialist, but in truth, the platform is adaptable for smaller environments too with flexible pricing structures available. storm is the perfect solution for organisations looking for high platform availability and scalability, with business-critical integration and/or omni-channel communication requirements, as well as customer data platform needs. Organisations with high staff turnover have also seen reductions in churn thanks to the storm platform. 
  1. With Instagram functionality recently added, TikTok will come soon – and who knows beyond that! Content Guru doesn’t stop innovating when it comes to taking engagement seriously, which will be music to the ears of brands large and small, who really care about the customer experience.

Got a UC or CCaaS requirement that you need help with? Do you require support building a business case, or sifting through industry providers to find the solution best suited to your organisation? Let’s talk…

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 Gary Saunders, managing director at CloudCoCo…

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

I have such a vast range of responsibilities, but some key elements of my role include overseeing the sales function, as well as CloudCoCo website enhancements, and developing our managed service function.

We’re a people-led business with a skilled team of experts who help customers gain a competitive edge. We supply modern, innovative IT solutions that underpin and support crucial business activities, whilst putting power back into the hands of customers.

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

Throughout the course of our journey, we’ve had a number of key acquisitions that have taken us from the two-person company CloudCoCo was in 2018, to an industry leading organisation with a strong team of technical and customer-focused specialists.

And where’s next for your business?

There is still work to be done to enable the Group to reach its full potential, and the macro-economic environment remains unpredictable. But with the hard work that has taken place to lay the foundations for sustainable and profitable growth in the future, we are confident of continued progress in the second half and moving into FY23.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

At the moment, it’s the fact everyone believes everything is about cloud.

While cloud has a major place in every successful tech strategy, people think it’s the only option. In reality, hybridity is the epitome of innovation, combining the benefits of traditional services, managed IT, and the cloud – rather than solely focusing on one element.

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

People maximising the infrastructure and licencing they already have – and if this isn’t a key trend, it should be.

Microsoft is constantly evolving and as such, there are limitations on certain licencing which can have a real impact on business. Instead, it’s about maximising use and really hammering home the education piece.

Plus, in a time where cash is king for many, people are reluctant to spend money – if organisations make the most of what they already have and rinse their existing tools of their true worth, they’ll be in good stead.

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

Be a sponge, soak up knowledge, and keep an open mind. There are so many people to learn from in this industry – don’t take the opportunity to seek advice for granted.

The next purchase on my personal tech wish list is…?

I’d love an electric car, but I’d say my personal goals are naturally driven by the business.

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

Mobile phones – specifically, a flip-up Motorola StarTAC with a huge aerial. I worked with this kind of tech a lot in my early career.

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

I’m amazed that people still use tape drives rather than having cloud backup. They’re so easy to damage or misplace, so there’s a significant risk of data loss.

For me it’s a no-brainer to leave tape drives in the past, but I think sometimes people are too reluctant to break old habits – even if it comes with such high stakes!

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

I’d listen to talkSPORT on the radio and catch up with the latest – whether it’s football, cricket, rugby, or anything really.

I’ve always been a sporty person, and it’s such easy listening.

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 Sharon McDermott, founder and managing director at Trenches Law

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

As well as running the business as founder and managing director, I help to provide Trenches Law’s legal services as a qualified lawyer.

Essentially, we provide legal support for the tech and telecoms sector – drafting terms and conditions and negotiating them against a buyer or supplier, advising on GDPR and the emerging telecoms security bill, navigating contractual risks, plus supporting on any disputes.

We also manage the critical wayleave process for operators, including electricity wayleaves for electric vehicle charging points.

At the minute, we’re playing a key role in supporting operators and altnets who are installing their infrastructure to meet government targets – which stipulate that 85% of premises in the UK must have full fibre broadband by 2025. And our award-winning automation tool is a vital addition to support such needs.

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

The automation tool that shook up the market in September 2020.

It interrogates Land Registry and other available databases to create and distribute tens of thousands of wayleaves on a daily basis – which ultimately accelerates clients’ builds.

And where’s next for your business?

There’s a real shortage of surveyors in the market at the moment, which means it’s taking so much longer for operators to be able to provide fibre – that’s where we come in.

We’re currently in the process of setting up a service offering, whereby the end-to-end fibre installation process in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) is undertaken by Trenches Law. This means that not only will we deal with the wayleave, we will also provide a surveyor to the MDUs to undertake a survey and agree the route of the fibre with the freeholder – allowing us to acquire the wayleave more quickly and use less touchpoints.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

Number one, is that it’s easy to provide an infrastructure or electronic communications network.

Operators are building their networks and missing private land out – including MDUs – because it’s too difficult to get a wayleave. As a result, there are pockets in the UK where residents won’t be able to access broadband – this needs addressing sooner rather than later. Digital exclusion is a very real and worrying challenge.

Secondly, it’s that contracts don’t matter after they are executed. So many people store legal documents in a drawer never to be looked at again – but you never know when a dispute might arise. It’s so important to read through contracts and get legal advice before they are signed – even if that’s just a high-level, short-term risk review.

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

A lot of mergers and acquisitions in the market – and we’re already starting to see that with the likes of Connexin buying Pure Broadband.

Operators are running out of space where they can build networks due to the increase in competition, so naturally there’s a lot of saturation with altnets at the minute. To overcome this issue, instead of going through guild, operators are joining forces to increase their ‘number of homes passed’ figure and drive higher value for money for investors.

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

This works in so many industries, but as a leader, I’m a firm believer that anyone can achieve anything if they believe in themselves. So, if you wanted to be a lawyer, stick at it because telecoms is such a niche area, and you don’t need to have a traditional educational background to excel if you have the right drive and attitude.

Also, the way you act comes back at you in many ways – I’ve learnt how to do things or not do things from positive and negative people. So, my lifelong mantra has been to support others in any stage of your/their career. The reputation you build is so important and long-lasting.

The next purchase on my personal tech wish list is…?

I’m terrible at technology in my personal life – anything I touch, I break.

Above all, everyone knows how bad I am at charging my phone, so maybe a portable power bank would be a good idea.

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

When I was around 21, I remember getting a tiny little grey phone – which I think came with my first car, for some strange reason.

I used to always see the field guys in my first job walking around the site with these huge mobile phones with massive antennas too – the opposite of mine but a similar memory. How far we’ve come!

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

I’m surprised people still use hard copies of videos and DVDs – when nowadays you can stream anything, from anywhere, at any time.

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

I’d go for a walk with my two dogs to the local pub – a Cavapoo and a Cavapoochon. They’re called Will and Luka, after two football players from Crystal Palace football club – my husband and son are big fans!

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.

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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

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.

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