Verizon acquires Sensity........Disintermediation personified? by Chris Brown - Energy Watch News

Verizon acquires Sensity……..Disintermediation personified? by Chris Brown

Repeating the question I asked two years ago at Strategies in Light……when technology gorillas and lighting manufacturers align, who will be driving? Here is what I wrote back in 2014, speaking about DISINTERMEDIATION:

“I’m not convinced that most lighting distribution is prepared or committed to making the emotional and financial investments necessary to transform to 21st century technology and solution providers. Distribution is firmly embedded in the traditional lighting channel. But, Disintermediation is happening. And with the Internet of Things, the game changes. Lighting isn’t just about light anymore. Channel players must find ways to provide measurable, appreciable value to the end user, beyond just delivering lighting products. The IoT is real, it’s here and it’s here to stay. The questions now are about who plays in the IoT game and who do they play with? And what position do they play. And what are the rules of the game? And what are the hurdles and what are the rewards? And when tech gorillas and lighting manufacturers align, who drives?”

We have SmartCities, SmartLamps, SmartPhones, SmartWatches……on a personal aside, I have a SmartAss youngest brother who years ago delighted in regularly pointing out the small bald spots and slightly receding hairlines that my other brother and I shared. I finally pointed out to SmartAss that there was a scientific theory of inescapable ‘genetic inevitability’, especially since our Mom’s dad was pretty bald. For the last 15 years, other brother and I have reveled in pointing out SmartAss’s increasingly large bald spot and thinning hair.

“Interesting Mr. Illumigeddon, but what’s your point?” Well, it may be time to invent a new version of inevitability…… IoT inevitability. Like it or not, the Internet of Things exists. And it’s real. And it’s still in its infancy. And yes, of course there will be hiccups along the path to wide acceptance.

And yes, it’s confusing
And yes, rules still have to be written
And yes, there will be winners and losers
And yes, it’s too early to pick the winners
And yes, you will need resources to compete
And yes, new high-tech entrants are looking to dominate
And yes, lighting isn’t just about light anymore.

But with all the tech gorillas and all their R&D billions being invested in connectivity, sensing, data analytics and the action plans currently under way, the lighting industry cannot afford to be IoT ‘deniers’! IoT is here and here to stay, deal with it or disappear!

Back to my much earlier question about ‘who will drive?’…… answer then and now…… gorilla
How else can the Cisco Digital Ceiling and the very recent Verizon acquisition of Sensity be interpreted? And what tech/lighting alliance will be next? And what will the long term impact be on traditional lighting distribution, manufacturing and manufacturers rep? Creeping Disintermediation? If we aren’t preparing now, if we don’t lose our skepticism about IoT, if we don’t stop being deniers, we’re ‘out of business, just don’t know it yet’! (Heard that one before?). And IoT inevitability will be as real as SmartAss’s bald spot. And finally, and I’ve said it before…..I may be wrong!
(But what if I’m right?)

Next week, Captain Sunshine will suggest some steps to deal with lighting distribution’s thinning hair and growing bald spot…ILLUMITUNITY!

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2 comments on “Verizon acquires Sensity……..Disintermediation personified? by Chris Brown

  1. Gary Mann says:

    Mr. Illumegeddon and Mr. Sunshine:

    Well. my hair is only thinning but it is as silver as my Dad’s was, the Silver Fox. As I usually say, I don’t care what color it is, as long as it is still there. Maybe genetics has something to do with this discussion, and maybe not. But, there is a very dramatic evolutionary force taking place in the lighting industry. Those who do not accept that, hey, it’s OK. Distributors will continue to chase and close older lighting technologies and will presumably do very well financially.

    I am constantly amazed at the plans and specs I receive as a manufacturers rep agency (albeit a small shnooky little boutique rep agency specializing in LED technologies for retrofits) where the architect has specified fluorescent troffers and CFL based fixtures. Really? So, I would think that means that 2 or 3 years ago, someone provided the specs for these products and the new construction has still not caught up!

    Hey, great for me. I and others will be retrofitting these buildings for years.

    So, Mr. Illumegeddon speaks of the sky falling because of the IoT technology and the fact that the vast majority of distributor salespeople are not in a position of selling these products. He’s kind of right. But, not completely.

    Then there is Mr. Sunshine who thinks all will be fine. A little in-house training, some additional investment in lighting specialists (ah, the first thing to go in my 35+ years of distribution experience when the economy burps) and the we’ll be good to go.

    Today, most ,and I apologize upfront for using a broad stroke here, most distributor salespeople do not even “get” the ROI side of selling LED lighting retrofits. To think they are going to jump into presenting IoT or PoE technologies and be successful is ridiculous.

    I think there is a terrific marriage coming in the future between distributors, VAR’s (valued added re-sellers), manufacturer’s rep agencies and manufacturer’s. Not sure which of these will form the best equation or if there will ever be a “best” equation. But, manufacturers of IoT technologies need to find the best places to market their products. Who better than lighting/electrical distributors to identify the users in their individual markets? Electrical/Lighting distributors have more data in their histories than anyone in the industry. They need to mine that data to bring to manufacturers and let them know they can point them to the promised land.

    Distributors can’t do it on their own though. They still need to partner with the manufacturer’s VAR’s or rep agencies to make the presentation, provide the solution and assist in closing the sales.

    In the last two months, my small, boutique lighting retrofit agency has been approached by two IoT firms who would like us to represent their products. Now what? It’s not a 400W shoe box LED replacement! It’s not several hundred LED vapor tights for a garage! It’s not several hundred recessed can and ceiling mount retrofit kits! How can I add this to my bread and butter business…without losing my focus on the business?

    You know what? Beats the heck out of me! As a former employer and friend recently said, better to get into the pool now to see how deep it is than to turn your back on the opportunity.

    So, Mr. Illumegeddon and Mr. Sunshine, as the Dude says: “The Dude Abides”. There is a lot more to this story. May your hair stay on your head and not on your pillow and the Cubs go all the way!

    Gary Mann
    New Gen Lighting & Energy Inc.

  2. robert quintal says:


    Interesting and entertaining read. We are a vertical market rep. not hugely different from you. We jumped in the pool head first a few years ago, we have seen one wireless company come and go and currently have two in our lineup. We do provide a “system” solution and have mated our wireless partners with our LED fixture partners. All in an effort to present the ESCO with what they need even when they don’t know yet what they need or want.

    You have given me some ideas on how to take this to the distributor to accomplish same. Much like the LED adopters, they are the next frontier but need lots of help.

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