Chris Brown wants to start something. He calls it: Connect the Dots…… an interactive industry debate / conversation. His recent Illumigeddon blog talked about the changes in the lighting industry that are threatening to the incumbents. That it will be good for Lighting and Electrical Distribution if distribution knows about it, learns about it, learns how to talk about it intelligently, sell it smartly and service it effectively.

We are still talking about change, ok? Change is always threatening to the incumbents. We see it happening around us more dynamically than ever before. That’s a good thing, even for the incumbents……if you are able to adapt, that is. Even in a changing environment, some things never change. I teach a graduate class at Monmouth University and we talk about how products and services go to market. There’s the manufacturer, who in most cases goes to market thru a supply chain, then there is the ultimate consumer. Manufacturer to supply chain to consumer. Not changing folks.

We all agree that lighting is transitioning from the traditional to the electronic. So is the phone……
I have friends that still use the phone as a phone. The most progress they have made is to a flip phone that has a voice message, “this phone is for emergency use only, I do not answer this phone, if you want to talk to me, please call me at (land line)………” Say what……now that’s adapting to change, right? The transition to a smart phone is lost to them. They do not know what they do not know. The Smart Phone is now a complete communication / entertainment device: apps, emails, text messages, videos, camera, information search, news, IoT, controls, Bluetooth connections, etc. and it’s still evolving. And by the way, you can still use it as a phone. What’s next you ask……. Stay tuned, ∞.0 is not far away.

I have distributor friends that sell lighting as lighting. Their message is, “what do you want, and I’ll get it for you.” Sure, leave it up to the customer. They will tell you what they want and you just fill the order. Easy, that’s the distribution business, right? Not going to work anymore my friends. In the electronic information age, they don’t know what they want.

Lighting is now Smart Lighting: in addition to the stalwarts of quality of light, energy efficiency, and long-life, lighting products are being introduced that will not only allow for consumers to manipulate the timing, intensity, and quality of light but will internally track and react and adapt to the users’ living and working patterns. Smart Lighting now has: its own apps, IoT applications, embedded devices, sophisticated control capabilities, interactive communications, mobile wireless communications, energy monitoring, Wi-Fi, automatic dimming, network technologies, plug-and-play interaction, facial recognition, integrated security, connected lamps, programmed to research the space, the ability to transmit sensitive information, wireless protocol implementations, mobile applications, web services, and backend infrastructure. Did I leave anything out….I’m sure I did. Stay tuned…..

So what am I saying? Simply, we are not in the lighting business any longer. Ted Levitt wrote a book years ago, Marketing Myopia. We still teach it today. He castigated the Railroad Industry as being myopic. His premise was that those in charge believed they were in the Railroad Business. If they thought it out and believed they were really in the Transportation Business, they would have been the drivers in the pipeline, shipping, maritime, trucking and airline industries, those really in the Transportation Industries. They failed in this regard and are struggling to this day. Today we see it happening in the Newspaper Industry. I believe they are catching up because they recognize they are not in the newspaper business anymore but rather the Communication Business. But where were they when Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn were taking over the communications industries?

Here is where Chris and I need your help: if we are not in the lighting business, what business are we in? Once he stops ranting about the need for Distribution to evolve and to stay relevant in the era of Illumigeddon (The end of the Lighting industry as we have known it). Check out Chris’s lighting industry tweets at @illumigeddon. We promise to continue the debate. Stay tuned…….

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