Five industry experts scope out the year ahead.
Dundas: It’s important to understand that sustainability is a holistic concept that includes not only products and manufacturing practices, but also the policies that define a business organization’s internal culture. This is more than just “pie in the sky.” For example, ISA member shops in the architectural signage segment already recognize that important aspects of their future prosperity depend on adopting green practices that conform to the operating principles embraced by their clients. Sustainable and eco-friendly practices not only help firms to attract new business, but also help them to save money by eliminating a broad range of inefficiencies.
Florek: If 2007 and 2008 were years of excess hype for sustainable solutions, 2009 might commence a period of inevitable reaction against environmental marketing. Indeed, the use of the term “greenwashing” is already widespread. To my mind, the problem with environmental marketing is similar to the problem with marketing total cost of ownership. In both cases, the numbers can be massaged to such an extent that OEMs can make any product seem to excel in terms of sustainability. It simply depends on the standard one uses.
Marx: Let’s take “green” out of the equation for a moment and view sustainability from an entirely different angle. Sure, we all have a sense of what environmental sustainability is, but let’s focus instead on corporate sustainability, which relates to keeping your company on track and on an even keel. Fair hiring practices are ultimately a liability issue tied to a regulatory framework, as are discrimination on the job, sexual harassment, worker safety, financial impropriety, etc. A company that has a plan in place to address these issues now, before they become problems, is much less likely to face a lawsuit, and is less likely to pay out stiff fines for regulatory violations or even stiffer court settlements. Protecting the environment, plus protecting your employees, plus meeting your regulatory and moral obligations equals sustaining your business for the long term. Think of it this way: “Sustainability” is people, planet and profit; “green” is environment only.
Is it the “usual suspects” of applications that will remain our market’s top applications? Or are there some specific applications that are now on the decline? Any others on the upswing?