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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vapour’s head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, recently took part in a Q&A session for a feature on women in tech, with PCR magazine. If you missed it, you can read the article in full here...

1. Please could you provide name, job title, company

Carol McGrotty, Head of Transformation & Operations, Vapour

2. What is your professional background and how has this contributed to your current working position?

I joined the tech sector at the start of 2000, following a seven-year period working in insurance.  Initially, this was in a provisioning role delivering projects to enterprise and public sector customers, whilst also contributing to process improvement workstreams and new-to-market product launches. 

Having curiosity, a drive for purposeful transformation and a collaborative approach within the industry are still fundamentals in my position at Vapour today, as much as they were back when I began my tech journey.

3. What are your experiences of being a female tech leader?

For me it has always been a very positive experience, and I often refer to the fact that I am lucky in this regard – on reflection I wonder why this is, as surely it should be the norm for all females in this industry. When I started out in tech I had some very strong, knowledgeable and inspiring female leaders around me – who also then became my mentors.  Having had this grounding from the start of my career in tech has made me feel extremely passionate about being the same to other upcoming females.

4. What challenge have you encountered, if any, being a female in the tech sector?

Not so much of a challenge, but as I attend events, meetings and focus groups, I can often be the only female in the room.  At first, I could have seen this as a challenge – coupled with making it clear that you aren’t in attendance simply to take the minutes! But this is where relationship building comes to the fore, as does knowing your topic well, showing passion, listening to other peoples’ view points, and not trying to be someone else. As a female in tech if you’ve earned your right for a seat at the table, then you absolutely should be there.

5. What are your interests and passions in regards to working in the tech channel?

A key part of my role at Vapour is promoting our culture, leading by example on our company values and behaviours, and encouraging and supporting our teams in doing the same – through initiatives, committees, focus groups and sponsors. This aligns to another of my real passions, sustainability – not just at Vapour, but also within the industry as a whole and among our clients, by supporting their digital transformation with sustainable decisions.  Our ESG strategy and execution is paramount.

6. How can the channel drive greater diversity in the sector?

We need diversity in the sector from the floor level to the boardroom, to ensure there are a diverse range of views – this is particularly the case in tech, where innovation plays such a vital role.  Having this as a value and behaviour within the business, shows the support that comes from board level, and the role everyone can play.  By opening up discussions at department meetings, and even having a committee in place to be involved in driving change where needed, it is important to think outside the box to accommodate everyone, and continue to push for diversity and consider all needs.

7. How can the channel look to attract more females into leadership positions in the channel?

There is evidence to show that having females in leadership and board positions can improve performance and attract more female talent into businesses, particularly in roles that would previously have been deemed male-orientated such as engineering. 

Having policies such as split maternity/paternity leave, advertising job salaries to be transparent and ensuring female mentoring programmes are in place, all helps, as well as supporting on leadership and training programmes, and reviewing how job adverts are written (in less masculine language). Our male colleagues can be allies in this too – it is not just a female subject to drive and champion.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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