WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? BY CHRIS BROWN, CEO WIEDENBACH-BROWN - Energy Watch News


WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? BY CHRIS BROWN, CEO WIEDENBACH-BROWN

chris.brown@wblight.com
Chris Brown3
We continue the Connecting the Lighting Industry Dots Series, and considering ILLUMIGEDDON (the end of the lighting industry as we have known it!)

So, if you’re under 60, you may have to look up the Alfie reference. But no matter how old you are, or how many years you have in the lighting industry, you have to be asking yourself if you truly understand all that is going on in our disrupted business. I don’t understand….yet. I do know that CTD (Connecting the Dots) doesn’t tell me what it all means, what is happening, what is going to happen, only that it means something, that something is happening, and some things are going to happen, and I need to be ready for whatever happens. So I need help…both adding to my list of Dots (below), and eventually connecting them.

One way to do that is a SWOT Analysis……of the traditional lighting industry. I’ve thrown everything I can think of that relates in any way to the lighting industry, and particularly Lighting Distribution, into 4 CTD categories, starting with Threats. In future weeks, Bill and I will also talk about SSL Manufacturers, Controls and Other Issues. Here is where we need some help. Before we start to literally Connect the Dots in future weeks, what company, what technology, what alliance, what issue, and what category are we missing? Please add to our lists. And then help me and Captain Sunshine navigate through the dots and find the connections, which should help us all to understand the disruption we are going to have to deal with.

Over the next few months, I want to focus on the meaning of Illumigeddon, and why it is not a bad thing, in fact, may be a good and necessary thing for Lighting Distribution (see @illumigeddon). So, again please add to the Dot lists. And suggest connections. Then, Bill and I begin the Threat/Opportunity debate. And finally, we will start looking to the future, and we’ll forecast 5 years down the Lighting Distribution road. Help two old geezers out…..send us your comments, add your dots, make your own connections. Let’s have an industry conversation, and have an impact on the disruption we are just beginning to see and feel. Let’s try to control our own destinies.

As Chicken Little, let me deal with the Threats first. I know Captain Sunshine wants to deal with the Opportunities. Here’s what we are looking for: identify and connect those external threats to our traditional lighting business that are in common………what threats are so in agreement with each other that we have to pay specific attention as they will “threaten” our very existence as distributors. Then we plan on working on the Strengths & Weaknesses. Let’s Connect the Dots, knowing that in the end, you have to decide what is pertinent to your specific business.

2015 EXTERNAL THREATS TO THE TRADITIONAL LIGHTING INDUSTRY

NEW COMPETITIVE THREATS
APPLE
ARMSTRONG
BIG ASS FANS
CISCO
CORNING
GOOGLE
FASTENAL
FOREIGN COMPETITORS
INTEL
ORACLE
QUALCOMM
OTHER

CHANNEL THREATS
AMAZON SUPPLY
BEST BUY
ESCOs
HD SUPPLY
IKEA
INTERNET SHOPPING
STAPLES
OTHER

TECHNOLOGICAL THREATS
INTEGRATED CONTROLS
INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)
INTERNET OF EVERYTHING (IoE)
LED DRIVER ISSUES
LED / OLED / WHAT ELSE?
SMART LIGHTING
OTHER

INDUSTRY THREATS
DISINTERMEDIATION
FIERCER PRICE COMPETITION
LEASED LIGHTING
LIGHT AS A SERVICE
LOWER CHIP PRICES
LOWER MARGINS ON SSL
NON-FUTURE PROOFED LIGHTING
NO PERFORMANCE WARRANTIES
SELLING LIGHT NOT LIGHT BULBS
SOCKET SATURATION
TYRANNY OF THE URGENT
OTHER

LEGISLATION / REGULATION
AUTOMATED DEMAND RESPONSE
DEMAND RESPONSE
NEW STANDARDS
TITLE 24
OTHER

OTHER THREATS
3RD PARTY LOGISITICS
BIG DATA/M&V
DEATH OF BRICK&MORTAR RETAIL
DHL
FEDEX
HOME AND OFFICE AUTOMATION
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES
REVERSE LOGISITICS
UPS
OTHER

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12 comments on “WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? BY CHRIS BROWN, CEO WIEDENBACH-BROWN

  1. Steve Byrne says:

    Under threats technological threats add Lumio because they are changing the way light is delivered. If you saw them on shark tank, it was a feeding frenzy by the sharks fighting for them. Not sure what the technology is behind it, but conceptually it looks to be a game changer. I used to worry about the long life of LED, but now think today’s LED will be an afterthought in 5 – 7 years as the new ways of delivering light become accepted. Still camping that underneath all of this, delivered usable light is still the ticket.

  2. Motivated and trained lighting people in all funtctions. Sales, Tech Support,Service and Support Staff. .Marketing, Lighting applications support. On and on>>

    Who trains ?

  3. How about for those of us in the older generation “The complexity of understanding all of the issues” Maybe you could say lead, follow or get of of the way!

  4. Pat Treadway says:

    Chris,
    Your list is pretty comprehensive, one I don’t see, and I perceive to be a possible disruptor is the issue of power transmission loss. More energy is lost in getting from the generation facility to the end user, than the lighting losses themselves. industry groups like eMerge Alliance are representative of trying to cope with this, as well as the disparate world wide philosophies on transmission, many countries prefer DC in certain uses. I see AC transmission/DC consumption as a future model – the disruption to the US market, largely AC based all the way through consumption, being relegated to the market second priority while the rest of the world moves forward with “ACt/DCc”. Demand response is certainly going to be a part of the factors in this disruption with some expressions coming out of western utilities showing they want the ability to shut down users consumption at their discretion during potential black outs or brown outs.
    Please feel free to use, paraphrase as desired.
    Regards.

  5. Greg Ehrich says:

    While I agree that there are some issues facing traditional lighting distribution with the advance in LED technology I think overall there is now more of an opportunity than ever to grow your lighting business. There are billions of sockets in the US alone so it will take a long time to convert them all to LED. I know that it has taken over 20 years to convert T12 to T8 fluorescent (still going on) so I believe it will take at least that long to convert to LED. 20 years from now there could be another new technology to take over LED. There is no telling the future so the important part now is to educate yourself and your employees with as much knowledge about all aspects of lighting. Understanding LED technology is important, but you also need to understand traditional lighting to truly be able to sell light. Attend conventions (NAILD, Light Fair, etc..), participate in webinars, take online courses and research. Lighting has always been confusing and will get to be even more so as LEDs advance. The companies that take the time to understand the available options and how they work as well as their customer’s current lighting system will be the ones that succeed.
    Great discussion and one to keep expanding on.

  6. Sarah Morgan says:

    As a startup business in the lighting sector, I am interested in understanding what comes after LEDs. I did my thesis in LEDs ten years ago, at the time they were revolutionary, but as the years have worn on, they have not been as game changing as I thought they might be. This has much to do with the infrastructure into which lighting must fit, ie. the wiring and electrical set up of buildings.

    Nano-technology offers new ways of incorporating light into materials and surfaces that were previously impossible. I’m excited to see nano-technology start where LEDs stop, as a result emancipating lighting from traditional methods of power sources.

    What if lighting became a way to augment rather than replace sunlight?
    What if the energy from sunlight during the day time could power lighting used at night?

    This is what excites me!

  7. BillAttardi says:

    From Dirk Beveridge
    Chris and Bill – LOVE This!

    Chris, this is just a fantastic discussions. Kudos to you, Mr. Sunshine and all those taking part.

    Other threats that come to mind:

    Legacy Thinking – This is the way we’ve done it. The way I’ve built the business it’s surely the way forward.

    Infrastructures Build For Yesterday – The investments made in building the business to where it is today – will be a hindrance moving forward. This is a comprehensive category…buildings, technology platforms, relationships with current suppliers (vs those who might disrupt), employees with skills that worked “yesterday”, etc.

    Big Data – Who will be the ones to make sense of all the data LEDs create?

    Looking to History as a Guide – What if the change happens quicker than in 20 years?

    Keep it going!

    Dirk

    • Well asked, Chris!
      I would build on Bill Attardi’s comments by citing the difficulties we face as we try to scale up LED technology.
      1. We have the black eye created by CFLs that didn’t dim well and didn’t offer good color, in their early years. This helped to fuel the arguments that no change is good change.
      2. We are up against enormous inertia and resistance by incumbent players. This too is fueled by early failures due to incompatibility of diodes/drivers/transformers/dimmers. If no one checks for compatibility, end users will be disappointed.
      3. To avoid the issues above, we need to provide training and education for architects, designers, electrical contractors, facilities managers and more.
      4. In addition, we need codes that virtually force LEDs into new buildings, using LPD and, more importantly, retrofits. Energy codes loopholes exempting lighting that is less than x% of total building must go.
      5. As the commoditization of the technology races to the bottom, we need to find new ways to monetize the delivery of quality lighting. Several are trying SAAS inspired models now. We will need to keep watching and experimenting with new business models, not all of which are the light sources themselves, but deal with the surrounding infrastructure. Stay tuned.

      I look forward to continuing the discussion at SIL

      Pat Sapinsley
      Watt Not, LLC

  8. Naomi Miller says:

    One additional concern is how we control all these LED and other future lighting products. I’m concerned about the technology divide. Those that are able to handle the set up and programming of lighting controls will be fine, but what about those whose brains don’t work like that (e.g. my mother the musician who could never figure out the dimmer switches in my house, people with dyslexia who become confused with numbers, older people that have trouble with cell phone apps, lower income people with less access and familiarity with technology, and people who may not have either the interest or the abilities to understand how to use controls. Do we leave them behind? Will there even be a way to switch on lights to some default setting for these people?

  9. BillAttardi says:

    From Mark Rea
    Hi Chris,
    I agree with the blog responders – it’s great to see you challenging the status quo. Congratulations, sincerely.
    If I may, however, there needs to be more about what we might actually do as a lighting community in response to the changing landscape. One option, suggested by your blog, is to give up. Others argue that lighting will always be important, and I agree with that position even if the traditional stewards of lighting have changed. Today an interview I did with Bob Steele was published. Here is the link: http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2015/01/strategies-in-light-2015-panel-will-address-value-thinking.html
    For what it’s worth, I believe we have to work toward 21st century benefit and value metrics if we are going to shape our own future. I’d be pleased to hear what you think about this proposal.
    Kind regards, and keep up the good work!
    Mark

  10. BillAttardi says:

    From Jerry Davis
    Chris
    Since I worked with Bill many years ago when the company was known as Norelco I will side with you and defiantly agree with our side of the market for the future
    Jerry

  11. I had to look up the Alfie reference : )

    In fact, I will use that as the first contribution to the list: Advanced Information Technology. 10 minutes ago, all I knew of Alfie was stored in some vague and distant cabinet in my mind, filed somewhere between the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire.” and the Buddy Hackett joke about a “farking” ticket.

    After a quick search, not only can I write a paper on Alfie, I have a Michael Cain movie in my Amazon Prime Instant queue and i am listening to the Dion Warwick song while writing this response while wearing my jammies. Just 10 or 15 years ago, this would not have been possible.

    Will advanced info-tech have us visiting “lighting experience centers” through an The Occulus Rift (if over 40, you may need to look it up)? How about if a designer/user could reach out and pluck products from the air, install them, experience their control interfaces, swap products, colors, adjust forms, and call out “Purchase 245 units of item #11327 and deliver to Plaza Theatre in the West End of London.”?

    Yep…already gone are the days where you need to run around with 35 lbs of literature and and another 100 lbs of samples in your car. Since 2007, we have closed LED lighting projects 1000’s of miles from our office in LIC without ever looking anyone directly in the eye, or exchanging any actual printed paper. There have been occasions where we have lit bridges, supermarkets, parking lots, prison perimeters, and office spaces without ever actually seeing the customer…how crazy is that?

    Not crazy at all when speed, digital literature, fast shipping of samples, and math can prove why we were the better choice. Some clients know, or can know just as much and sometimes more than lighting salespeople in a very short period of time. This brings me to the second contribution for the Illumigeddon list: Technical Expertise.

    How many in lighting sales have enough of it? How well is it applied? Do rapid changes in technology make everything they think they know wrong? How many companies have an evaluation team with the expertise to vet out the manufacturers they represent as technology changes to be sure they are consistently on a winning team? LEDs are not gas and glass. Most incumbent lighting manufacturers did not (may still not) posses the expertise or staff to be in the electronics and advanced optics industry. What do you do when when one of your major revenue sources for which your staff is specifically trained decides to “leave the lighting industry”..

    Well, I think I went a bit crazy with my long response, but I felt like i was holding my breath for a few years….whew. Thanks Chicken Little and Captain sunshine for starting what looks to be a very interesting discourse. You “old geezers” are alright!

    Nik

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? BY CHRIS BROWN, CEO WIEDENBACH-BROWN"
  1. […] Chris Brown, CEO, Wiedenbach-Brown, Hawthorne, N.Y., identifies a ton of new competitors now selling LED products in his latest post on the energywatchnews.com blog. Think companies like Apple, Armstrong, Cisco, Corning and Google aren’t interested in getting a piece of the lighting market? Think again, says, Chris. http://energywatchnews.com/whats-alfie-chris-brown-ceo-wiedenbach-brown/ […]

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