Jagan Srinivasan, the Country Manager of the Philippine office of Philips Lighting, discusses the company’s new campaigns to re-introduce the concepts and uses of light, power, and energy consumption to a 21st-century audience who has more complex needs and a greater understanding of how technology can serve them. Mr. Srinivasan’s extensive experience spans across the globe, including the Netherlands where the Philips headquarters is located. He also served as the Audit Director of Philips Headquarters’ Internal Audit team where he conceptualized and led risk-based audits on Strategy Execution Assurance, Business Process Improvements, and Value Assurance.
Q: Prior to accepting this assignment, you were offered opportunities to lead Philips initiatives in the U.S. and the U.K. What made you decide to move to the Philippines?
JS: I had seen the business globally at HQ and had accessed data from every part of the world. The Philippines has a 100-million-strong population, a 6.9 percent GDP growth, and projections in the area of that magnitude every few years. It’s a very attractive market based on demographics and per capita income, and we have not served the market commensurate to what it needs. As a business leader, I see opportunity. There is growth that this country offers. If we do the right things, we can have impact here. Europe, the US, the UK are mature markets; here you get to be more entrepreneurial.
Q: Your recent marketing campaign, EyeComfort, emphasizes a different approach to lighting than just the usual brightening up of a room or the elimination of darkness.
JS: Our responsibility as the global leader in lighting technology doesn’t stop in producing and promoting the use of LEDs. We are also committed to educating consumers about sustainable illumination. We strive to empower the individual by bringing together an in-depth understanding of user needs, lighting applications, and scientific insights to create evidence-based lighting solutions for optimal vision, sense of well-being and performance. We are aware, more than anyone else in the industry, that light influences the human body in greater schemes. Our human-centric lighting efforts are devoted to enhancing human performance, comfort, health and well-being, separately or in some combinations.
Globally, lighting accounts for 15 percent of energy usage. In the Philippines, my estimate would be 19-20 percent.
Q: How has the Philippine market responded to the use of LED’s in their homes and businesses?
JS: The market is increasing adoption of LED’s, and households that have converted into LED’s have noticed a significant drop in their electricity bills. Globally, lighting accounts for 15 percent of energy usage. In the Philippines, my estimate would be 19-20 percent. But as for Filipinos who want to save, the first thing they think of is air conditioning, and lighting is a forgotten fact. They don’t realize that a simple switch to LED will bring about 50-80 percent savings.
This is a rather special domain, where we have decades of experience in. You have to understand all aspects of lighting that are not harsh on the eyes. Glare and flicker are factors that you have to manage; otherwise your consumer will have experiences like headaches.
We take pains to say that it’s the right kind of light for your houses. The Filipino family will have the benefit of eye comfort that will be in-built into our products. That is how we will be talking to the B2C market moving forward.
Q: Tell us about your other campaign, Light Beyond Illumination, which goes beyond functionality and energy savings.
JS: Technology has enabled possibilities for the consumer. One example is Philips Hue, which has not yet launched in the Philippine market. You can control the light of the room through your phone app and set the mood calling to your preference. There are a few thousand colors that you can choose from. One consumer who trades stocks programs it and when the share price of a certain stock goes up, his room lights up green – and it goes below, it reflects a different color.
Q: Obviously there is connectedness going on, similar to what we can expect from the Internet of Things. Data, lighting, and the needs of the user are all interrelated to deliver maximum service. You’ve mentioned the B2C market. What would your approach be to the B2B market?
JS: Let’s take an office. This kind of smart lighting can know if someone is sitting in the room or not. Translate those capabilities to a full building. Looking for the data of six months, you find that your building has an occupancy rate of 65 percent; you realize that you have more floor space than you need. In a BPO setting, the biggest expense aside from salaries is real estate. The manager who uses our lighting system can reduce costs in rentals of two floors; he rents them out because he sees he doesn’t need them.
We will be working with the architect and the developer while the building is being built. In that way, we can design the lighting and its systems from the beginning; we are not just there to fill 1,000 holes with bulbs.
Janitors can be advised that they cannot clean certain rooms that have not been used. They can be advised which rooms to clean based on the lighting system, and will be paid accordingly. That incurs significant savings for the owner.
We are placing emphasis on our B2B business. A large part of it will be project business, working with the architect and the developer while the building is being built. In that way, we can design the lighting and its systems from the beginning; we are not just there to fill 1,000 holes with bulbs.
Q: You had significant success in Indonesia with your City Touch campaign. Would you be doing something similar in the Philippines?
JS: I expect to see similar things happen here. We installed more than 9000 street lights in Jakarta; they are connected to the software City Touch which allows the city engineer to have a map of the city on his laptop; every single dot corresponds to a light post, and gets data from every light point like consumption.
Many cities in emerging Asian economies do not have a good view of their lighting aspects; they don’t know how many light points they have. They simply replace the city bulbs when they bust. Customers would complain and then six months later, somebody comes in to take a look. The next administration would build a few lamp posts here and there.
There is opportunity everywhere. When the sun goes down, everybody needs light, regardless of whether you live in an off-grid island or are the wealthiest man in Manila.
We have taken that difficult element out of it. Think of our system as eyes and ears into the city. I can have street lights that detect presence below them like cars and pedestrians. I can program the default setting to below level during midnight because there is not much movement. Then when presence is detected, it will switch back to 100 percent levels. As the engineer, I don’t have to be sitting there manually pressing buttons. It can be automatic and wireless.
You can program your city lighting according to time and ambient lighting. You can detect presence and react to it.
Q: What are the challenges that you encounter in educating your market about this kind of smart tech? And how do you address them?
JV: I talk to city mayors, engineers, and corporate heads. What I say is not completely alien to them. There is opportunity everywhere. When the sun goes down, everybody needs light, regardless of whether you live in an off-grid island or are the wealthiest man in Manila.