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Colin Buchan

Colin Buchan on customer-led communications

By Colin Buchan

Director, Affinity Technology

With an early career spent in automotive electronics and later phone service centre and technology, Colin Buchan jointly founded telecoms company Affinity Technology which has found its reputable place amongst the telecom’s giants through personal customer service and having an excellent inhouse customer support team whom are available to help at the end of the phone.

Relishing the fast-pace of the industry and embracing new technologies whilst maintaining the consistency of approachable customer service has seen Colin and Affinity Technology build a loyal customer base in its four years since inception.

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What are the current opportunities and challenges being faced by the telecoms industry?

The main thing at the moment is the big 2025 switch off, when BT will switch off analogue telephone services (PSTN and ISDN) and all landline services are to be offered digitally. People are so convinced it’s years away but it’s actually less than 30 months so if anyone's going to sign a contract now they really need to be looking to shift towards newer products.

What are the emerging trends in telecommunications?

It's an exciting time to be in the industry because there's a lot of change happening. We came into the industry at a really good time in the shift towards VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Due to the pandemic customers use of telecommunications systems has greatly changed where the shift towards video integration has been huge, people have realised that you don't need to drive to Newcastle to a meeting, you can just do it online.

I think people want to streamline their products and have more integration. The bigger platforms are starting to integrate everything and the level of integration you have at work and in the home now is incredible.

One of our customers provides hospital equipment that can now have SIM cards embedded to feedback faults to the manufacturers, so they know about any potential problems before the hospital and can solve them efficiently – that level of integration, especially when it's for such a greater good, I think is phenomenal.

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"The main thing at the moment is the big 2025 switch off when BT will switch off analogue telephone services (PSTN and ISDN) and all landline services are to be offered digitally."

How are the devices evolving in terms of their technology and capabilities?

It’s crazy, isn’t it? A few years ago, the touchscreen barely existed, and everyone uses smartphones for everything now.

There are industries that the smartphone decimated like the digital camera market because now you only have one device in your pocket – you don’t need three or four different devices.

What opportunities has 5G enabled for the sector and its customers?

5G is a massive thing for the industry. It makes everything so much quicker – it’s up to 100 times faster than 4G, and 4G was pretty good. We’ve got offices that run completely off the mobile network now, they don’t have broadband because it’s quicker to use 5G.

The speeds and things like download quality are phenomenal. 5G is a real game changer and it’s popping up in lots more places now.

Does the increased network, capabilities, and technologies pose new challenges with security?

I think as long as you stick to the major brands, security is very strong. With phone systems, we start with the BT system, which is all stored very securely in the UK. Apple’s level of security on the devices also very good.

We’ve got fellow OBS member Ashley Fernandes and his company Colva tech as our sister company, offering IT support and a comprehensive level of technology security.

What does the 4th Industrial Revolution mean for telecoms?

I like all disruptive technology that comes along – virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc.

I think it’s amazing, but much of it is going to depend on some sort of connectivity to the internet – it’s all going to need a connection somewhere so there is a big effect and reliability on the telecoms sector.

"5G is a massive thing for the industry. It makes everything so much quicker – it's up to 100 times faster than 4G."

Colin Buchan - Director, Affinity Technology

What are you currently listening to, reading, or watching?

I’ve just bought a book recommended by Liam here at the Old Bond Store – The Membership Economy. It’s always good to embrace other people’s recommendations, it’s just arrived and it’s on my desk ready for me to start reading.

Where is your favourite place to visit when you need to get away and get some headspace?

If I want a crazy little break, I like Marrakech. It’s such an assault on the senses – you can just sit in a café and drink coffee and just take it all in. If I’ve got a couple of big projects on, I could happily sit there drinking coffee and planning things out for a couple of days without any other distractions.

It’s daunting the first time you visit but I embrace it now and if I go, I like to visit with different people who haven’t been before – watching their reactions is phenomenal because it’s such a different world.