What would be your prediction for lighting in 10 years’ time?
The majority of commercial members won’t be supplying commodity type luminaires but in order to prosper will need to adapt to the need for more specialist products or add value through other features. Only recently we had a dinner for Past Presidents of the association and we discussed LiFi, data driving the industry, smart cities, leaving the EU and a new dawn in global politics. Many of the companies such as Google did not even exist when some of the Past Presidents were in office and it was a conversation only 5 years ago we would we never have expected to be holding.
For the consumer lighting market, the changes have been and will continue to be the route to market rather than a revolution in product changes. The LED revolution has largely bypassed the consumer luminaire industry where style and artistic design carry more importance.
The LIA recently opened its new Academy, how important are skills in our changing industry?
I don’t believe there is anything more important than educating our industry and introducing new skill sets. If we are to survive and compete we absolutely have to do this and as change becomes even more rapid our ability to adapt to that change also points to training.
What effect do you think Brexit will have on the UK lighting industry?
I hope that it makes no difference at all. I hope that standards remain uniform throughout Europe which makes complete sense as it is our biggest market. The biggest issue for business is the period of uncertainty. It is still a community that has to live and work and trade together. Donald Trump’s election is a concern for global trade owing to the possibility of trade barriers and closed markets.
Who will be the movers and shakers in our industry looking forward 5 and 10 years?
The electronics world will drive the near future in terms of products. Japan has had a poor decade or more but I think they are on the rise again and their electronics expertise will serve them well. The EU are not particularly strong on electronics. The next phase will be software and data but my view is that the platforms generated by CISCO or Google for example, are the vehicle enabling the industry to enter this brave new world rather than competing with us. As an industry we don’t appreciate the skills we have, lighting is an art form, a skill that the electronics industry or Google have no knowledge so I don’t see them as a threat, more as an ally.
What is the future for luminaires if we are building products with increased longevity?
What we lack as an industry is sufficient information about, for example, what is the installed base of commercial lighting? I think that the reality is that less than 5% of the installed base is being converted to LED each year and although that will continue to accelerate despite the fact that most lighting sold is now LED. It could be 20 years before we have completely changed the installed base by which time a good number of luminaires will be 20 years old. The ramifications of long life luminaires could be the same as for LED lamps unless the smart revolution demands upgrades or replacements.