Bill Attardi and I agree that there is great opportunity in this new age of Smart SSL Lighting. BUT FOR WHOM? That’s the key question and that’s where our debate begins. For me the issue isn’t whether there will be great opportunity, but whether traditional lighting players are eager and willing and able to invest in their future by trashing old business models, making innovation in their business an everyday exercise, not an annual team building exercise that is forgotten in a week. Are traditional players eager and willing and able to learn new technologies, focus on service in a service economy, invest in bringing new solutions to their own businesses and to their clients, provide clients with one neck to choke, and stay in business in the age of Smart SSL disruption?
What does it mean when Philips and Siemens and Samsung rethink their roles and participation in the lighting industry? What do they know that we don’t know? Could it possibly have to do with a long term view that they cannot innovate and transform their traditional lighting businesses fast enough to compete in the age of Smart Solid State Lighting? Are they backing away from significant investments necessary to stay competitive with only a potentially very modest ROI? Could it possibly be that they see lower component pricing, lower margins and fiercer competition and they do not want to play in that sandbox? Again, what do they know that we don’t know? And how do we find out?
And what about controls and controls companies? What happens when controls are integrated into smart lighting lamps and luminaires? And what happens if SSL lighting becomes so efficient there is no ROI on a controls installation? Check out Smart Lighting info and issues with Bob Karlicek at the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center for that conversation http://smartlighting.rpi.edu/
Some other questions that need discussion and understanding:
1. What does it mean when Cisco is a keynote speaker at this year’s Strategies in Light? And Apple, Google, Intel, Oracle, Qualcomm and who knows what other tech gorillas lurk at the borders of our formerly unexciting traditional lighting industry?
2. What if anything does it mean when ceiling manufacturers align with lighting manufacturers?
3. What does it mean when controls and lamp companies are scrambling to align with Nest and its parent company, a little tech company named Google?
4. Why did Honeywell come into and exit the lighting business in what seemed like a couple of days?
5. What does it mean when GE and Osram had no products, NONE, in their booths at LuxLive in Europe last fall?
6. What does it mean when Osram announces a new focus on service as ‘the market for lighting moves away from traditional light bulbs’?
7. What does it mean when Amazon Supply comes into our distribution business, with technology and logistical resources most distribution can only dream of having. And people brush it off because ‘Amazon can’t do for our customers what we can do’. Wanna bet?
Captain Sunshine and I agree that there is great opportunity in this new age of lighting. But again, for whom? And how do the survivors of SSL disruption identify and take advantage of the opportunities?
Does lighting distribution get that we’re in a fight for our business lives, a fight to survive and thrive? We all should be trying to figure out how we stay relevant not just to our client base but also how we become relevant to and necessary for the new SSL and technology players with their own business models, which may not include wholesale distribution. If we can’t find a way to add value, we don’t belong in the future lighting industry business model equation.
Captain Sunshine and I will return to the promised SWOT analysis over the next few weeks, as we attempt to lay out a roadmap of relevance for lighting distribution in this age of SSL disruption.
To read Chris Brown’s entire presentation at Strategies in Light, click here: