Do you recall how and when the LED revolution began? What started out as highly technical research, soon gained steam and began to reach the consumer market…and now is pushing old technologies and manufacturers out of the marketplace. It was a slow-moving revolution due to the complete reliance on older technologies (incandescent, halogen and CFL, to name the most commonly used items in the consumer space) and general mistrust of the new technology, due to poor quality, high cost and low lumen efficacy.
Now imagine if LEDs had been introduced in a world that already had a well developed infrastructure, that consumers already trust and consider an essential…well that is the red carpet that has been laid out for the lighting industry with IoT, and the change that is coming will be rapid and will change the lighting industry infinitely more than LED. Here’s why IoT will change the way how we buy, sell, install and use luminaires:
- Industry: Luminaires will have a wireless node (aka a unique IP address), an additional component installed separately in the fixture, or more likely as a part of the power supply. This will make each luminaire and the entire luminaire system a part of the sensing, security, building information and management system.
- Competition: companies in the tech space adapt faster than to disruption and pace-of-change than those in the lighting industry. Additionally, the tech space usually operate with smaller margins than the lighting industry, meaning that IoT enabled luminaires will quickly and easily become a part of an IT portfolio making the competition in marketplace much tougher.
- Infrastructure: Luminaires will receive multiple sensors to gather information like: temperature, pressure, use of surface and – of course those functions that we are already used to – such as daylight harvesting and motion detection. Lighting will become an infrastructure for measuring multiple data points, therefore the lighting function will be only one of many…and in all likelihood it will be the least valued.
- Purchasing/Procurement: IT infrastructure is typically bought by different decision makers than lighting, therefore the entire process of purchasing is going to be redefined. In fact the decision-making will move up the value chain, so it will entail a much more a sophisticated and rigorous analysis of needs and functional requirements. Companies in the tech space have spent several decades operating in this environment and understand how to interact with and respond to this level of procurement.
- Selling: Lighting companies will be competing with IT integrators requiring sales people to have a much more detailed knowledge and comfort with discussing and explaining control systems that are much more than intricate and complicated than lighting engineering. As a consequence, most of the lighting sales force will not be able to adapt to this change. And in fact this move to a much more sophisticated sales model than the lighting industry is used to, will again give competitive advantage to the companies in the tech space
- Competence: Finally the biggest value for any IoT client, is the data processing and analysis, where huge and specialized companies like Amazon and IBM have far greater competence than any of today’s lighting companies. These competencies will have to purchased by lighting companies or they will be unable to compete in any meaningful way.