Looking around at the street lighting industry, it is satisfying to know that Lucy Zodion is one of the major players, we are currently a leading supplier and manufacturer of state of the art street lighting equipment.
How easy it would be to rest on our laurels? We could believe that we are so far ahead of the competition that we can simply cruise along doing what we have always done in the markets that we have always served. It is clear that obviously this would be a fool's errand.
Competition is a fact of life and largely a very good thing, particularly for customers. Competition drives new product development, technology, service and delivers cost effective solutions. Competition is not something we as a business can afford to ignore, but nor can UK industry as a whole.
But what do I believe is the future of the UK lighting industry? Can it continue to thrive as it has done in recent years? I judge that the answer is no and that significant change is coming. The way that the global lighting industry will change will have a major impact on the UK lighting industry. In fact it will be as huge an issue as the move from gas to electric lighting.
I anticipate that in the near future there will be a major "leapfrog" in technology, after all LED lighting isn't really a lighting product but an electronic product. The new entrants to the UK lighting market will be the ones that succeed in the investment race: the drive to develop better LED based products.
Existing 'European' lighting companies will be challenged by international players and LED lighting specialists. Although in the long term many of the new entrants to the market will fall by the wayside as part of the natural thinning process that occurs following a major step change in technology and as new products become redundant.
One potential scenario is that specialists will cease to exist and that 'one-stop-shop' providers will manufacture and distribute all elements. So for example instead of buying different lighting parts from specialist producers, large multinational companies would provide the customer with the whole package.
The major downside of this is that there would naturally be a reduction in the range of products on offer as well as compromised quality of products. It is very challenging to maintain high quality standards in manufacturing when involved in a technology race. Training of staff and production processes cannot keep up with the rate of market development without significant time and investment being spent on both.
We may then see the process come full circle as customers seek out manufactures and producers who can provide the quality of product required. I envisage that throughout this whole cycle the control gear for the lighting products will however remain separate and it will the challenge of our business to ensure that customers understand the benefits of the control management systems that we produce.