Collin Strategies keynote challenges SSL sector to find new business models (MAGAZINE)

Oct. 13, 2021
Could the SSL industry find a new lease on life by putting lighting selection into the end users’ hands? MAURY WRIGHT considers this option as it was proposed during Strategies in Light.

Strategies in Light took place back in August as a virtual event and had the typical roster of very good speakers covering technologies, applications, case studies, and more related to the solid-state lighting (SSL) sector. If you missed it, you can still catch the archive for a limited time. I found many of the talks compelling but was especially drawn to business topics, as our sectors are still reeling from the combined effects of price erosion, a pandemic, supply chain issues, tariffs, and more. Keynote speaker Jim Collin, Annell Ljus + Form AB, offered some novel thoughts on the path to a more prosperous future driven perhaps not surprisingly from the lighting designer/specifier perspective.

I covered Collin’s address extensively in a feature article on the conference. He was quick to blame bad lighting products sold for too little money that have curtailed the financial health of our sectors while also yielding a terrible user experience.

After the discussion I detailed in the aforementioned article, Collin prescribed the needed change. “Wallets and interests are not connected,” said Collin. “Bad lighting means that money is shifting from our industry into the energy sector.” The culprit is both the price erosion driven by knock-off products and the fact that buildings have higher energy demands than needed due to overlighting and poor quality in general.

“I think we need to rethink this completely because buildings don’t need lighting,” said Collin. It’s people that need lighting. He implied that in today's project methodology, the building developer is in the center of the lighting specification process. He suggested making a pool of money the center of the process, and for instance in a residential scenario, using the money to pay the developer to build a house. But he proposed, “Let’s exclude the lighting.” He said the developer should be required to include good infrastructure but suggested we “leave the lighting for the tenants, have them buy it, connecting them with the lighting that they need.” Collin added, “Then we would have a working circular economy.”

Collin admitted the concept would require new business models. He also said the user is not accustomed to such a scenario and would face the choice of investing or leasing. In an ideal scenario, Collin said this could lead to a lighting-as-a-service (LaaS) or a lighting-on-demand model. He observed that the concept of LaaS has been around a while and not really caught on, but that failure is due to the lighting industry collectively focusing on its own needs rather than the users’ needs. He said, “If we tell them what they can gain, they will adopt this model.”

Launching new business models is always difficult, he admitted, and this idea might require a revolution. But he said lighting designers need the revolution for the sake of their own business, and users need it to get better light.

Now I’ve never developed a building nor run a major lighting specification process. But over the last decade, I have become very particular about my lighting needs. The concept seems to make a lot of sense.

Maury Wright


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