The last in our series of short interviews is with Ourania Georgoutsakou, the Secretary General of LightingEurope. Here she shares with us her thoughts on the disruption of lighting, the international market, and what issues the industry is facing today.
Do you believe the disruption in lighting is finite or will it be an ongoing processes?
Ourania Georgoutsakou: I believe the disruption in lighting will go on for a bit longer, and that is I think true of most sectors that have transitioned from conventional technologies to electronics. LEDification has required adapting company structures and strategies, business models, supply chains and products of course, and we are still finalising that process.
Looking forward, no one really knows what the Internet of Things will really mean, and as lighting becomes part of the fabric of this internet of everything the lighting industry will have to adapt further and identify new ways to generate value, addressing for example new value chains, new actors on the market, different innovation cycles and the increasing importance of software over hardware. We are still at the first phases of rolling out smart cities, 5G, AI, smart mobility – I believe we are in for a few more changes before we can say that this wave of disruption starts ebbing.
What is the one piece of advice you would give the European lighting industry as a whole in order survive this disruption?
Ourania Georgoutsakou: If I had to pick only one, I would probably say ‘be open to new ideas, look around, talk to others’. I think part of the challenge of navigating change successfully is focusing on your strengths on the one hand, but at the same time being open to change and being quick to adapt. That’s where the value of trade associations such as LightingEurope lies: offering a compliant environment to discuss with peers, getting early insights into future policy and market trends, getting that inspiration and advance warning of what’s likely to come up next.
What is Europe’s position in the global market and how can it best handle global competition?
Ourania Georgoutsakou: Europe is a strong market and we have a strong industry with a solid tradition in lighting. From a regulatory perspective, Europe is an open market, but it has many rules that all products and manufacturers need to comply with. A big part of LightingEurope’s work in Brussels, and of the work of our member associations with the various national ministries, is to make sure that the EU rules are understood and are enforced. We want to ensure safe quality products for our customers and a level playing field for all manufacturers.
Business models are changing, user demands are shifting. What area do you think is not getting enough attention from the industry and the EU?
Ourania Georgoutsakou: I think overall we are looking at the right things in Europe: smart cities, smart mobility, connectivity, addressing demographic change, promoting the quality of life and the well-being of people, addressing climate change and promoting a circular economy, will all create opportunities for the lighting industry to innovate, to general value and to grow.
We need to be doing more to change people’s perceptions of lighting, to help them appreciate the non-visual effects of light and to get them to demand better lighting. LightingEurope has launched the #betterlighting campaign, targeting the Brussels crowd and showcasing how lighting impacts not only our energy bill but also our mood and the way we function.
What is Lighting Europe’s involvement in LpS/TiL 2018 and why do you participate in conferences?
Ourania Georgoutsakou: LightingEurope is presenting the latest regulatory trends from the EU and how they are impacting products and business models, focusing on energy performance and designing circular products. We will also be discussing progress towards achieving our strategic roadmap and human centric lighting.
Conferences such as LpS/TiL 2018 are an important opportunity for us to engage with the wider industry, to get an insight into upcoming trends and to showcase how LightingEurope members are working together to shape new market opportunities and customer expectations. LpS/TiL has the right mix of people, from CEO to R&D managers, and from lighting designers to procurement staff, and it is a pleasure to come back every year.