Milestone execs talk strategy at MIPS 2013
Hundreds of attendees gathered for the annual Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) event this week in Las Vegas.
Photo credit: (Photo courtesy Joel Griffin)
Milestone President and CEO Lars Thinggaard delivers the keynote address at MIPS 2013.
Photo credit: (Photo courtesy Milestone)
Executives from video management software developer Milestone Systems discussed the company’s business strategy and other industry trends in Las Vegas on Monday as the firm kicked off its annual MIPS (Milestone Integration Platform Symposium) event. The company, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, is encouraging partners at this year’s event to “think bigger” in terms how their currently approaching the market.
In his keynote address, Milestone President and CEO Lars Thinggaard said this year is going to be about the execution of their segmentation strategy, which essentially separates the company into three distinct business units: Professional, Corporate and Incubation.
“We want to be the best and most profitable partner for you,” Thinggaard told the crowd of attendees that included a mix of the Milestone vendor partners, integrators and end-users.
The professional business unit is geared toward less complex installations on the lower end of the market while the corporate unit is focused on the higher end, enterprise applications that are highly complex. The Incubation and Ventures unit, which was designed to nurture new and innovative ideas, was launched late last year and has offices in Silicon Valley and the company’s Danish headquarters.
According to Thinggaard, the motivation for the segmentation business model stemmed from research in which Milestone asked its partners what they could improve upon to make the experience of using their open VMS platform better for the end-user. Based upon this feedback, Thinggaard said they realized that they had to stop seeing everything from a one-size-fits-all approach and start focusing on individual customer needs, which resulted in this segmentation model.
Though they want their partners to think bigger, Eric Fullerton, Milestone’s chief sales and marketing officer, said that people also have to think big relative to their business which involves thinking smarter about how they do things. Fullerton said Milestone believes that this segmentation model will eventually be adopted by the larger industry as companies realize they have to go beyond the traditional conceptions of what constitutes a high-end, mid-sized or low-end installation as the needs of every end-user is different. For example, he explained that low camera count doesn’t necessarily mean low-end because the complexity of the system has to be taken into consideration.
And while the company may have three distinct business units with different market focuses, Fullerton pointed out that all share a common strategy in that they all serve one channel, one brand and have one, common ecosystem. In addition, Fullerton explained that are four tenants behind Milestone’s strategy moving forward - simplicity, flexibility, scalability and reliability. Of all of these, Fullerton said that reliability may be the most important as it is about more than just products, but about an organization as a whole.
“How much do you listen and try to solve the problem of the end-user?” Fullerton asked. “We will continue to drive (reliability) home because that is the most important thing for the end-user.”
During his presentation, Fullerton also teased a couple of upcoming product offerings from Milestone, which include XProtect Expert, a solution that fits between their XProtect Enterprise and XProtect Corporate software platforms, as well Milestone Interconnect, which will enable users to stream live and recorded video from each hub in the surveillance network.
Thinggaard also sat down with SIW to discuss some of the factors that are shaping the VMS industry. As he mentioned in his keynote address, there is a big difference now between what the company considers to be the high-end and low-end of the market.
“We’ve seen end-users will very often ask for ease-of-installation,” he explained. “That is a trend that has continued through the years and I think has become more evident and is even a demand now among end-users that they want ease-of-use.”
Thinggaard said that this includes the pre-bundling of software with hardware. Two years ago, Milestone launched its own network video recorder that was pre-loaded with the company’s VMS software called XProtect Essential NVR.
“It’s likely that, in the future, we will see new, updated versions of that NVR that will come out of the Milestone factory,” Thinggaard said. “It’s also evident, I think, that the industry has embraced companies that have pre-bundled offerings. We’re not just closing our eyes and saying ‘this will be a market for us at some point.’ We’re not going to make our own hardware, we’re not going to make our own cameras, but the pre-bundling of an NVR-type of strategy is a future trend.”
Thinggaard also sees the resurgence of analytics as another trend that will take hold in the VMS market in the near future. While the market for traditional video analytics was seen by many as mostly dead as recently as several years ago, Thinggaard said there has been several developments in the technology that have made it viable once again, including a reduction in the number of patent issues and end-users becoming smarter about how they use them.
“It’s becoming more and more dominant,” he explained. “We see lots of requests in all of the RFPs we see in the high-end of the market. The notion of actually using analytics as part of a new (surveillance) installations is something that people embrace and in a much broader way because technology wise they have become a lot smarter about how to use analytics.”
Another trend that has become paramount in the video management space is mobility and the ability to access video surveillance feeds using smartphones.
“It’s a way forward for all us carrying smartphones,” Thinggaard said. “We use them in our everyday life and this level of connectivity is just obvious. Still, you can claim that broadband connectivity is still a limiting factor. Just having video streams flying around is not something you just do for the fun of it, but we are seeing a lot of focus on mobility.”