An exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at our new podcast – IllumeTALK
We’re launching a lighting and efficiency-focused podcast and could not be more excited!
In preparation for the first episode of this new venture, IllumeTALK host Aaron Woloszyn sat down with Illumetek’s President, Erin Plivelich for a thought-provoking, one-on-one conversation covering the state of our industry, its evolution and what it means to embrace digital transformation and a “digitalist mindset”. Take a look at the engaging back and forth Q&A below!
A similar conversation is available as an IllumeTALK podcast -- click to listen here.
Until then, we invite you to follow IllumeTALK’s journey on Instagram for access to behind the scenes photos and more thoughtful exchanges like this one. Find us @illumetalk for updates and energy efficient fun – and stay tuned for the drop of our first episode later this month!
Now, onto the good stuff…
IllumeTALK – THE INTERVIEW
Arron Woloszyn (AW): Can you believe we’re launching a podcast?
Erin Plivelich (EP): No – I cannot believe this! This is all so new and exciting. I’m honestly not sure I’ll actually believe it until the first episode is released. I hope it’s well received – I think it will be. The amount of quality information we’re hoping to provide is incredible, and I’m really excited about the guests we have scheduled to join us.
AW: Same here, and I can’t believe you let me host! Let’s get started!
I’m always intrigued by your perspective on the industry, as well as your understanding of adjacent industries and topics that surround our business – some I’m still trying to wrap my mind around, but we’ll get into that later.
How do you view our industry’s landscape right now?
EP: Well we call it an evolving landscape for a reason. There’s a lot happening in terms of the integration of IT and lighting – sensors, controls, IoT, smart fixtures, etc., as well as the incredible pace at which manufacturers are putting out new product iterations, adding features, and developing new platforms.
We’re entering new and exciting times and it can be a bit overwhelming. It seems there’s something new every day – and that can make it hard to keep up.
The rapid pace of innovation delivers both opportunity and uncertainty – right now it’s probably more of the latter but, as we know, that’s what makes all of this so exciting.
However, and rather unfortunately, some of the trendy “buzzwords” we use – like IoT – can cause a lot of confusion because people don’t understand the value proposition. The IoT is a means to an end. It’s all about the outcomes. It’s a radical departure for folks that have lived simple ROI calculations for the past 25 years.
With that being said, it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible. I take time every day to read up on the latest advancements within our industry, I encourage all the team members at Illumetek to do the same, and it feels so great to focus the efforts of our new podcast on the foundation of continued education and conversation.
IoT – THE INTERNET OF THINGS
AW: For the sake of this interview and discussion, what definition of IoT do you like to use?
EP: I like to think of it in terms of a goal or outcome. Not a definition.
The IoT (the “Internet of Things”) adds connectivity to non-connected devices in order to allow users to gather data on the location where the devices are installed in order to achieve a particular outcome. So as I said earlier – it’s a means to an end. People are seeing consumer applications with companies like NEST and RING and loving the fact that they can keep their homes more energy efficient, safe and secure.
With the IoT, commercial lighting devices can be the backbone for complete space optimization, energy efficiency and the user experience – it’s a ubiquitous framework that can bring systems together to understand usage patterns and rates; customer positioning, asset tracking, and indoor location mapping; as well as building automation. Energy efficient lighting systems are evaluated on their ROI exclusively right now. And while LED is the most energy efficient light source to date, and the pinnacle of efficiency, its ability to bring additional value to a workplace or retail location cannot be measured in energy efficiency alone. Lighting as a multi-service platform that can have a positive impact on conversion rates, customer experience, employee comfort and productivity. Its ability to connect people and enable analytics has to be part of the evaluation as well. So instead of just thinking about it in terms of lighting, we have to start thinking about it in terms of technology, and realize that people’s expectation of technology is rapidly changing. The tangible benefits of lighting have to be weighed with the value of data that feeds desirable outcomes.
It’s a lot to digest. But, as you know, it’s a personal passion for me and everyone at Illumetek.
AW: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as though the underlying goal, regardless of whatever new buzzword or concept is out there right now, is still going to be efficiency. But the idea of efficiency, isn’t a new concept.
EP: No it’s not, and even with new capabilities it will continue to be a key component in every system we design for our customers. We can be even more aggressive with the addition of controls into a system, real time data collection and insightful feedback.
Did you know that 90% of a buildings total operating cost is comprised of people-related expenses?
Buildings contribute 40% of energy use and CO2 emissions, and 60% of non-industrial waste and electricity consumption. And according to the EPA the average person spends 93% of their life, their entire life, indoors. Clearly buildings play a very important role in our health and well-being. The built environment thoughtfully coupled with environmental stewardship can literally save us and the planet. Not to sound dramatic – but it’s a big deal.
AW: I don’t think it’s dramatic at all. And the best part is, with the technology available today, this thoughtful coupling and these energy savings can be realized almost immediately.
EP: Agreed – that is the best part, and that’s what makes this time in the industry so exciting.
Edison’s original invention, the electric bulb, illuminated the night and made the world more hospitable to a wide array of human activity. Making the world more hospitable is once again the goal, but now it comes in the form of sustainability, efficiency, and optimization.
And that’s where my passion really kicks in.
Energy efficiency has been the backbone of our organization’s mission for 25 years. Illumetek’s founder attended a Green Lights conference 25 years ago and walked away inspired by the power of transformation still available today in the form of a lightbulb.
From Edison to Green Lights, LED to the integration of IoT, technology gives us the ability to take things further, to make a more efficient, optimized, productive world.
When Illumetek celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, I took some time to pause and reflect on what has transpired. Our company has been focused on energy efficiency long before it was trendy, and we have been focused on the customer experience long before it was trendy. But for our customers, particularly in the retail sector, the stakes have never been higher. The internet and birth of e-commerce changed everything. And make no mistake we are embarking on a revolutionary time for facilities management, customer experience optimization, efficiency and data.
There is an evolution transpiring that will help take our mission further than ever before, and again – that’s what makes this particular time so incredibly exciting.
THE EVOLUTION OF OUR INDUSTRY AND ORGANIZATION
AW: How is this evolution playing out both in the industry, as well as in individual organization?
EP: First and foremost, you have to organize yourself to deal with change. You have to be able to track, manage and predict your environment. And you better be strategically aligned with innovation, engagement, and strengthening your assets; whether those assets are a thing, person or quality.
Our technology is evolving our way of life at lightning speed – pun intended! – creating a digital engine for an intelligent environment that enhances both efficiency and productivity as well as the customer/tenant experience. User expectation of technology is changing, a lightbulb is no longer just a light source but a multiservice platform capable of connecting people, connecting systems, enabling analytics, AND providing feedback.
As mentioned before, IoT is essentially about outcomes, data and applications that tell us how to respond to the information we are receiving. Start with energy efficiency and controllability, and then make it interact with people. Analytics are the next frontier – it will be what we do with all that data that really counts. We have to embrace a digital mindset.
EMBRACING THE DIGITALIST MINDSET
AW: Now this is what I was referring to in the beginning when I said we were going to cover some concepts that I don’t even fully understand:
The Digitalist Mindset.
This is something you believe in and cultivate within our company’s culture – it’s something you’ve read about, preached and have helped many grow to accept and strive to understand. For those listening who may not be familiar with it, let’s start with the basics.
EP: Digital transformation refers to the transformation of business and organizational activities and competencies to enable the use and leverage of digital technologies to improve business processes and outcomes. A lot of people focus on just the IT infrastructure part of that equation, or as it pertains to this discussion the IoT aspect to drive digital transformation. But digital transformation is as much about people and changing the way they approach their work, solve problems, and seek solutions. It’s imperative that we take the pains to understand the cultural shift that should accompany a digital transformation. The tech and culture demand should be equal in importance. In fact, I have heard it stated that culture is the backbone of digital transformation. Digital mindset is the culture we need to embrace.
This quote is from an article I was reading, it stopped me in my tracks and immediately shared it with the team:
“Being digital is about using data to make better and faster decisions, devolving decision making to smaller teams, and developing much more iterative and rapid ways of doing things. Thinking in this way shouldn’t be limited to just a handful of functions. A digital mind-set institutionalizes cross-functional collaboration, flattens hierarchies, and builds environments to encourage the generation of new ideas.”
That’s an incredible statement to me – a digital mindset is a culture transformation. Collaboration, cooperation, open-mindedness, are all opportunistic, pulling resources needed to perform at an optimal level, changing the way you do things, not just the tools you use, in order to challenge the status quo and open yourselves up to new opportunities. If you believe intelligence and information are fixed, static – it becomes an obstacle to learning, engagement and innovation. But if we embrace the digital mindset it promotes our ability to embrace change, be more agile, thus see the landscape more from an expectation of change and strive to enhance our ability to scan our work environment or ecosystem to stay abreast of and keep pace with what is happening in order to remain relevant.
It’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose at first – so much information, so many more influences and data points than ever before.
Someone with a fixed mindset will want to bury their head in the sand and not change or engage. When I was little I was convinced, as most children are, that if I couldn’t see you – you couldn’t see me. But then I saw a photo of an ostrich with its head in the ground and it gigantic body standing 10 feet in the air and it all came full circle. Regardless of what you believe, the world is going to show you what is actually going on. At the end of the day it’s only going to be a matter of time – not a matter of choice
AW: While that does sound a bit overwhelming, it also sounds pretty cool. It’s exciting to think about all of the other topics we are going to tackle on upcoming episodes of IllumeTALK. Are you as excited as I am?
EP: You know I love having these kinds of conversations. The more we talk and educate as an industry, the less scary and more practical this will become, and the more opportunity we will all have to grow together.
AW: Wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me ahead of our first episode of IllumeTALK. It was great talking to you – this is all so exciting and I cannot wait to share more insights like this with readers and listeners.
Have topics or questions that you’d like covered on IllumeTALK? Please don’t hesitate to reach out! You can fill out a contact form on our site, DM us on Instagram (@illumetalk) or find us on LinkedIn.