Sensio Lighting demonstrates how business and education can collaborate on future-proofing
As industry in the UK and worldwide continues to develop with advancements in the use of technology and artificial intelligence, businesses are left with no choice but to innovate in order to future-proof themselves, while education is also under pressure to stay in touch.
Institutions are now tasked with delivering graduates that are qualified to work in a professional landscape that is changing quickly, with fields such as engineering and design among the most relevant changing professions.
Universities occupy a critical role in delivering the engineers and designers of the future, and they are having to ensure that the courses they provide can deliver graduates that have a number of different skills sets so that they can adapt and transfer across different professions and disciplines and ultimately help the workforce.
To go about future-proofing graduates, the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering has introduced fresh curricula and interdisciplinary undergraduate courses with a “Core for All” approach, which ensures students acquire a range of different skills and can easily transition into different roles.
Yet, despite the headway being made by educational institutions, firms themselves who eventually will more than likely be taking on such graduates, can also have a key role to play. This is not solely in regards to helping future-proof graduates during their education, but also themselves.
Sensio Lighting, a Castleford based business which specialises in the design and sale of LED lighting, is one firm that has taken such an approach by working directly with local universities and students as part of its research and development strategy for the future.
Sensio’s managing director, Michael Linsky, spoke to The Parliamentary Review about how the firm invested in research and development to help future-proof itself, and how collaboration with local universities formed part of that approach, ultimately culminating in changes to the business model.
Discussing his desire to understand “what the future would look like” in order to ensure the business could anticipate and cater for future customer needs, Linsky said: “I knew that the future of our business depended on gaining a full understanding of what our customers’ future needs might be, and gaining an appreciation of the technologies and innovation that would be required to meet these demands. We decided to invest in research and development.”
Addressing how working with local institutions first came about, Linsky added: “Firstly, we started working with our local university and their product design students. We then hired a product design intern to develop our processes and, after the second year, we started to employ our own in-house product designers and electrical and mechanical engineers."
In the long-term, this has borne fruit for the firm.
Linsky explained: "Today, we don't just sell products; we create solutions to our customers’ requirements. Having the ability to create and develop our customers’ ideas has completely changed our model.”
The emergence of future-orientated courses, such as that at Warwick, show that the education sector is striving to move with the times. Undoubtedly, however, more firms being willing to work with students and extend opportunities to undergraduates and graduates can only prove more productive, particularly if the Sensio example is anything to go by.
The research and development focus was just one part of Sensio's wider future-proofing strategy, which has been consolidated by added focus on in-house automation and further investment in IT systems.
He said: “Information and data have been at the heart of our decision-making, and as a company, we have always worked towards understanding the meaning of the data we collect.
“By investing heavily in IT systems, we have been able to eliminate many elements that did not add value. This has allowed us to increase our margin and stop poor processing errors that impact the customer experience.”