I’m going to be very honest with you: I’m not a lighting expert.
I’m a marketer, I’m a “digital native” (yes, that’s code for Millennial) and I’ve witnessed a significant tech-influenced evolution of the marketing and advertising industry over the last decade – which, believe it or not, is similar to what the lighting industry is going through right now.
This unique perspective has given me the chance to dive into a new industry and become a student, spending most of the last 3 weeks getting my hands on as much content as possible and immersing myself in smart lighting, illumination-related technology and IoT.
It’s been great because being the new kid on the block has its advantages. I get to ask all the questions I want and none of them are judged as “stupid”.
I know, we’ve all been told there are “no stupid questions”, but how often do you honestly feel that’s the case?
This is a really important point as we move forward and try to wrap our arms around what the future of the lighting industry looks like, and how we’re all going to get there.
With the decreasing cost of LED, the rising speed in the adoption of technology, and the relevance of IoT (the “Internet of Things”) connectivity and digitization, many decision makers – both old and new – find themselves wondering where to start when it comes to the information needed to make an educated choice.
Furthermore, the majority of resources out there are so stuffed with acronyms, high-level jargon and “futuristic” ideas that it can be frustrating to figure out where to start.
Let’s not make it that complicated. The truth is – the “future” is here and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
As the new kid, I’ve decided to take a stand and try something different – for your benefit, as well as my own. We’re all in this together – forging into uncharted territory, connecting lighting with new technology – and we need content that is both relatable and easy to consume.
Most importantly, we need to agree that there are no stupid questions.
Are you with me? Great!
Welcome to There Are No Stupid Questions with Kate Reynolds – Volume 1.
Since I can’t tackle everything in a single post, my plan is to make this into a recurring series. Send me your questions and I’ll leverage my available resources to get you answers.
For this first installment, I rounded up a group of Illumetek employees to break down a few of the big, initial obstacles when it comes to getting started on complex, multi-million dollar lighting decisions.
I truly hope you find this information useful.
First, let me introduce those brave enough to tolerate my never-ending Q&A sessions:
- Erin Plivelich, President of Illumetek
- Diane Weber, Director of Business Development
- Aaron Woloszyn, Sales Executive – Retail Division
- Kristen Cooke, Rebate Division Manager
- Robyn McKenzie, Director of Customer Engineering
Now, let’s get started with something easy to create a baseline of the factors and moving parts that go into deciding on a lighting program. We’ll dive deeper into certain elements of these answers in upcoming “No Stupid Questions” (NSQ) posts. Remember to submit your questions and stay tuned!
Q: Aside from budget, what are common questions and concerns you hear from decision makers considering a major LED retrofit program or system upgrade?
- Timeline – How long will it take to complete the project?
- Rebates and Energy Savings – How do I take full advantage?
- What’s the latest technology?
- Have LEDs improved? How/why?
- Safety concerns – specifically related to Type B
- Material availability
- Pros and cons of fixtures and kits vs. replacement lamps
- Manufacturer reputation
As you can see, just from those responses, there are at least 9 other major factors to consider in addition to budget. While it’s not a comprehensive list, it gives good perspective.
Q: When considering a retrofit or upgrade, what should decision makers be educating themselves on?
Kristen Cooke: If a customer is rebate sensitive, that needs to be a big part of the conversation from the beginning. All of the timelines need to be woven together to max out project efficiency while capturing the priorities of the customer.
Aaron Woloszyn: I honestly feel that many decision makers are still in the dark about the full range of LED capabilities beyond energy savings.
Robyn McKenzie: Yes, understanding the many advantages of LED as they relate to existing lighting is vital. I would encourage them to start with a solid understanding of WHAT they ultimately want to achieve (energy savings, controls capability, etc.) and then how LED and other system integrations fit into that goal.
Q: So, what are the “many advantages” you speak of?
- Longer life
- Increased safety
- Lower environmental impact
- Light flexibility (directionality)
- Maintenance avoidance and maintenance savings
- Eco-friendly – mercury-free, non-toxic chemicals used in their production, 100% recyclable
- Design flexibility (aesthetics)
- Perfect controls capability
- Color options
Erin Plivelich: Agreed, it’s important to consider these and other LED benefits such as controls, data collection and systems integration. Decision makers also need to contemplate whether or not their company is heading in a direction to embrace IOT.
Q: Stop! For those reading this who might fully understand – what is IoT?
EP: Well, at its core, IoT is about data exchange – it enables the ability to share data between people and connected devices, resulting in analytics and action. This is the most concise answer I’ve heard and it came from John McBride of Acuity during his presentation at the Electro Expo in Cleveland.
To put it in the context of this discussion – lighting is the vehicle for IoT in homes, stores, buildings and cities.
“Lighting is ubiquitous throughout all buildings and every luminaire is connected to a source of power”. – John McBride, Acuity
This is something decision makers need to understand and plan for, whether that means a more cost effective system now with little thought to long life while they wait for the APPLICATIONS to increase/improve or whether they start to install enabled fixtures in their ceilings.
Additionally, I think we need to take it upon ourselves to educate those decision makers on the merits of lifespan versus light output. There’s a significant difference in specifying what they need versus what the product is capable of.
Wow, ask and you shall receive!
The flow of information can sometimes feel like drinking from a fire-hose, so let’s hit the pause button for now and circle back here next week. If you have any additional questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thanks for reading, keep asking questions and stay bright, friends!