Milestone XProtect Platform Is the Start Into a New Area
2015 was an exceptional year for Milestone, the first year after the acquisition through Canon and a very successful year with outstanding growth rates especially in the EMEA region and the US. The new year has now started with the biggest launch ever of the new XProtect VMS platform. At Intersec in Dubai, Lisa Schneiderheinze and Heiko Baumgartner had the opportunity to talk to Kenneth H. Petersen, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Milestone Systems, and Thomas Lausten, Vice President EMEA, about the product launch and Milestone’s marketing and product strategy.
GIT SECURITY: Thomas, at the press conference you mentioned how great the last year was for Milestone. In which areas did you see the most interest?
Thomas Lausten: We have seen great interest in all markets with the greatest growth in the Middle East where we could enhance our local footprint especially in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and South Africa. Three new Milestone offices have been opened in Beirut, Jeddah and Johannesburg. The success for Milestone MEA has risen by more than 30 percent, as the area embraces our partner-driven business model, which ensures customers a local presence with a global connection. Our success is the result of an investment in the best talents and the expansion of our partner network. We have acquired about 70 new persons in the EMEA region last year and have now established a great network of local sales and service teams in all regions. This gives us also a closer contact to the end-users and we do get a better feedback from them. To get instant feedback from our partners, we have also created new beta-lab testing for Milestone Solution Partners (MSPs). This gives developers a first look at new integration options, new features in the VMS product suite and the possibility to engage directly with the Milestone development teams. The feedback helps us to further enhance the VMS and MSP integrations.
What are the results of the partner and customer feedback?
Kenneth H. Petersen: We have realized that we need to be even faster than we have been before.
We need a rapid development cycle for our video management software that will enable nimble response to changing market needs. New features support fast system deployment and enhanced daily operations. Like in other IT companies, a networked and mobile mindset is crucial. The fast-paced changes in our world make short product development cycles a necessity. In response to feedback from our partner community and the end-users, we have made extensive enhancements to XProtect software that allow us frequent product releases.
How do you change your release policy in the future?
Kenneth H. Petersen: We will have three core VMS product releases every year in addition to the bi-monthly device pack releases for supporting third-party cameras. The multiple yearly release schedule will ensure that we can rapidly respond to market demands, with a more frequent timetable enabling implementation of new features and enhancements to existing product capabilities within a very short lead time. The XProtect 2016 release is the largest-ever development effort for Milestone.
Before we talk about the 2016 release, what else has changed in Milestone’s strategy after you took over the position as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer last year?
Kenneth H. Petersen: We have seen in the past, that we need to be clearer in messaging the market. All XProtect products are compatible with more IP cameras, encoders and digital video recorders than any other VMS manufacturer‘s products, giving our customers the freedom to mix and match hardware to fit their needs and budget. Freedom of choice can mean a tough decision is needed. It is important for us to help customers to choose the right product. Customers that have complex high-end surveillance projects distributed across multiple sites need a system that is adaptable and offers supreme situational awareness and ultimate system reliability. Other customers also need a flexible and reliable solution, but for them, ease of installation and ease of use as well as a cost-effective solution are the key features they are looking for. We will address the different target groups with more targeted messages, specific support and a precisely fitting product offering.
You have described the 2016 release of the new XProtect VMS platform as the biggest launch ever. What can your customers expect?
Thomas Lausten: The goal was to maximize the business value of our VMS for partners and customers, to enable them to be “In control like never before”. Our users benefit from an improved system performance, optimized incident handling and video enablement. Improved system performance is secured through the hardware decoding that enables the use of the latest 4K/UHD camera technology and improves video rendering performance dramatically. An extended system monitor gives real-time overview of system status to enable proactive service. The rich smart wall content from alarms, images, bookmarks, maps and more improves incident response time and operational focus. XProtect 2016 is introducing push notifications that notify a remote user of an alarm and in the other direction, video content can also be pushed from the mobile device’s own camera to XProtect, to share and document incidents wherever they are.
What has changed on the analytics side and how far are you with the access control integration?
Thomas Lausten: We have worked hard on the business extensions of XProtect. Milestone XProtect LPR and XProtect Access, formerly called XProtect Access Control Module, have been further improved. XProtect Transact 2016 for retail solutions has been further integrated with the XProtect Smart Client to make investigation of incidents more efficient. Video-enabling an access control system has never been easier with XProtect Access 2016. As a fully-integrated part of the XProtect Smart Client, operators can now make more informed decisions and conduct more efficient investigations by combining access information with video – all in one interface.
The administration and installation of software tools can be quite a challenge. How do you help you partners here?
Thomas Lausten: Improved system deployment and customer operations were another focus of the 2016 release. Our license handling has been simplified to facilitate faster installation and easier updates. Off-line systems now have far more elasticity in licensing without needing to be online. Smart Connect makes it easy to set up mobile users. The Customer Dashboard online remote system monitoring enables proactive service by Milestone partners to ensure optimum operations, and this has been extended in XProtect 2016 with the ability to document maintenance history and system performance. The numerous enhancements let users harvest all the benefits of an easy-to-use, efficient video system that is able to upgrade for any future needs.
You have presented the new ONVIF bridge. Is this tool aimed to improve the integration of your VMS into bigger security management or PSIM systems?
Kenneth H. Petersen: I think first of all, it is a proof for true openness. As one of the first VMS vendors, we are introducing an open ONVIF interface to access cameras and recordings in XProtect VMS and Milestone Husky systems. ONVIF Bridge makes an XProtect system look like a collection of ONVIF cameras to other VMS and security management systems. This gives seamless private-to-public video integration, simplifying large-scale, multi-vendor security deployments. The ONVIF Bridge gives a standardized interface for alarm centers and monitoring stations for a unified operator experience across systems. This is another confirmation of the power of true open platform technology.