A coffee story that throws light on the state of today’s proprietary lighting controls industry and the smart Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that are market disrupting them.
Here, Teresa Pole-Baker Gouveia draws on a recent experience that very well reflects the potential long overdue market changes that are already occurring in the lighting controls industry. Not being led by the traditional lighting controls companies but by a new generation of solution providers and channel partners.
Last Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me my present, and I tried to contain a sigh as I saw … another coffee machine! A Nespresso. Even though I was utterly charmed by George Clooney in the ads, I already had a coffee machine.
Being a coffee lover, and a few years back, I wanted a coffee machine with those easy-to-use hermetically sealed capsules for coffee-shop-quality coffee I could have at home. I didn’t want an expensive machine, or one that only produced small cups of coffee, so Nespresso was out (sorry George).
I enjoy a variety of drinks; tea, hot chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, latte and so on. So, I bought a machine, on promotion, which did just that.
However, over time –
- The price of my machines capsules increased while the generic forms of capsules for other brands of coffee machine, were reducing!
- The competition machines were offering a wider range of drink capsules.
My sole sourced proprietary product, was falling out of favour, and was no longer in all supermarkets.
Having bought a low price coffee machine which only used the manufacturer’s proprietary capsule brand, I was now stuck!
In Portugal, one doesn’t mess with the mother-in-law. So I got the Nespresso coffee machine working.
- To my surprise I find that its capsules offer a wide range of drinks, including all those I particularly enjoy.
- Best of all there are generic versions available everywhere, with an even greater variety of drink options on offer.
Nespresso’s capsule patent having run out a few years ago, enabled imitators to flood the market with similar machines and capsules, thus increasing choice and competition whilst improving the price point.
Bad for Nespresso’s business; actually no, their market share of the capsule market is growing, and they dominate the market in Europe.
So as a consumer, I’m happy. I now have access to a wider selection of goods at better prices. Meantime Nespresso have to work hard to keep ahead of the market and, as a consumer, this means more innovation, quality and better price.
So I was able to tell my mother-in-law, quite honestly, that her gift was great.
The interoperability of these drink capsules breeds variety, stimulates innovation and quality and, in the long run, makes it more likely that my fix is guaranteed. In order to differentiate itself, Nespresso has turned to issues that consumers care about, such as sustainability, quality and variety.
So why is this emerging coffee machine success story not repeated in the intelligent lighting solutions space?
The traditional lighting controls industry still dominates the global market, even though this means that “end clients” (building owners, managers, users) are faced with the same problems as me and my old coffee machine; while the initial cost of the system may seem attractive, down the line there is a price to pay;
- proprietary, sole sourced parts
- limited (or costly) access to all device value data
- inflexibility or increased expenses when changes are needed
- technology which is quickly out of date and is no longer the most innovative solution which is neither really smart or converged
However, in the last few years new smart IoT lighting control solutions have appeared. These are highly vendor independent both at point of delivery and in future operation and maintenance, thus offering end clients what they really want:
- Choice of who delivers, who maintains over time and what equipment is used.
- Simpler architecture means less installed equipment.
- Super-fast automatic commissioning, which means installation and changes can be made quickly and inexpensively.
- Full, direct access to all the device-level value-data seamlessly and freely
- An IoT solution you can access from anywhere on the planet.
All this whilst leveraging today’s and the future’s expected benefits of smart IoT converged solutions.
The other day, while I was buying my generic coffee capsules, I found someone I know, a maintenance manager of a local supermarket, who was staring in dismay at the defunct ballast in his hand. “This should be a cheap product” he sighed. “But I can only use one from the place I bought it, and it costs a fortune!” I smiled, sympathetically.
“Let me tell you a story over coffee” I said…