I had an interesting conversation today with a customer, who’s own client was very much stuck in their ways and didn’t want to embrace technology. My customer was frustrated as they could see the benefits and also the cost benefits to them in installing a more flexible platform that was easier to commission and would provide them with a more relevant and complete solution.
Now you could argue that the client was wrong to ignore the advice of the expert they employed but if I step aside from my relationship with my customer I may have a slightly different view.
If I was the incumbent system provider then I would do everything I could to encourage no change as I would be protecting my revenue stream and I totally understand this position but it isn’t necessarily providing the customer with the best solution.
We accept that change is inevitable and that over time technology improves and evolves and as a consequence later versions of a particular technology will generally be more efficient or will have enhanced features.
Mobile phones and computers are examples of a technology where this idea is perfectly accepted and we accept that over time we will need to update to be relevant; we don’t however apply the same value to our Building system.
All controls are fundamentally versions of Computers and are continually evolving but have been engineered to ensure a degree of obsolescence is avoided and that later generations of a product can be turned back to deliver an acceptable level of control within existing installations.
The fixed idea that so many organisations hold is borne of fear of failure. New things are unknown and therefore a threat to the status quo. Historically change was always a problem as systems were designed to be proprietary and not designed to work together properly; this however has changed.
As an industry looking to be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) we need an open approach to connectivity and a means to make hardware interchangeable.
We have achieved this through consultations and standards and now with organisations such as The Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA) we have a structure and framework that provides true interoperability; you are not locked into a single solution anymore.
My customers client is not wrong in their beliefs as that is their opinion based on historical issues associated with poorly thought out solutions that were designed to hook a client into their particular product.
Education is key here and my customer is very smart and knows their subject well, but the challenge for them is how to get this across to the end client.
This does raise a slightly bigger question in that where should the expert sit in all of these discussions.
I mentioned previously that this should be with the company you have employed to design or deliver you project and to a certain degree this is true but increasingly as technology evolves, specialisms sit with partners who have experience in a particular field.
I would consider myself an expert in Lighting controls and Emergency Lighting as I have worked in this field for many years and have helped to shape some of the standards and technology that we use. My knowledge is unique and as such is often used to support my customers and their customers to make better decisions based on evidence rather than speculation or any old fixed idea based on history or fear.
Decisions are made at all stages of the design and construction process and education is key to maintain both relevance and consistency. We mentioned in the introduction that nothing is fixed in time and that is so true in every aspect of our existence. Making the right decision is never easy but for certain we know that technology changes and failing to embrace change by keeping to a fixed idea or what is acceptable may compromise your building still further.
One of the problems with a technology frozen in time is that support is also frozen at that point in time and often upgrades to improved security, efficiency and general performance are overlooked.
LED’s revolutionised the lighting market in a relatively short period of time and controls are going through a similar process of rapid development, but with the added benefit that collectively we as an industry have agreed the rules.
I would say that is far easier to upgrade your lighting today as DALI-2 guarantees interoperability and the structure of connected Lighting is defined by an International standard IEC 62386 Parts 101, 102, 103,104 so products registered with DiiA will work together.
A good deal of my time is spent in educating the value chain and I try where ever possible to have a direct conversation with the end client. Change can be scary but if managed correctly and the appropriate protection put in place then “Fixed Ideas” can be overturned to provide the end client and the contractor the freedom to choose the right solution for today and the future.
Knowledge is a powerful tool to enable you to make the correct decision and working with the right partner, technical expert can help to develop your own smart solution.
If you want an expert view on where I see lighting going, including emergency lighting then don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
Stewart Langdown FSLL
m+44 (0)7774 821093