Security Solutions recently spoke to Lars Larsen, interim CEO at Milestone Systems, regarding the company’s announcement about its annual financial results. As reported recently, Milestone broke through a significant barrier by returning a net operational profit of more than $1 billion Danish Krone.
The recent news release mentions Milestone’s investment in research and innovation – is this part of the long-term growth strategy, and are you starting to see benefits flowing through already?
Larsen: Yes, R&D is very much a part of our long-term strategy and is the cornerstone of our current success. There is so much innovation in the broader video sector at present, and it is imperative that we keep on evolving to keep pace with that. As an open platform, we are constantly challenged to work with other industry players to provide innovative solutions to customers, and we are energised by the enthusiasm and passion that we witness daily.
This culture of innovation is particularly tangible in Milestone Marketplace® our open business platform; where customers, partners, resellers can easily connect with a wide range of Milestone-certified solutions. Milestone Marketplace allows innovators to collaborate and integrate cutting-edge technologies such as biometric detection, artificial intelligence (AI) and many others to find solutions for a whole range of industry challenges.
We have always been focused on community-powered innovation which drives us towards a more open and agile way of working. We are doing this by delivering innovative new features in short cycles, three times each year in fact. This ensures that the innovation we are delivering is much closer to the business needs of our customers and allows us to get the product or feature in the hands of our customers quickly, gather feedback and measure the solution’s effectiveness, and iterate if and when needed.
You mention that an important aspect of Milestone’s success is the investment in its people. The South Pacific team has grown significantly in recent times, have you found the right balance both locally and globally now? What is Milestone doing to keep the right teams in place, and invest in their future – training, further education opportunities etc?
Larsen: The success of our company both locally in the South Pacific region, and across the globe, relies on the strength of our people and our success in developing and nurturing the right team culture. We have a very strong People First culture and strategy, and we believe that our people are what makes Milestone a success. We are very proud of the team we have built up in the South Pacific region, the experience and knowledge that we work with every day. The team has certainly grown quickly, having approximately doubled in size over the past two years, a testament to our commitment in the region.
We have the right people in place now, and like all our teams around the globe, we will continue to invest time and effort in training and education, as well as making each employee feel valued as an important part of the global business.
Looking at Milestone’s investments in Innovation again, what specifically is working well – i.e. integrations with other vendors and platforms?
Larsen: We are working with some of the absolute front-runners across the video industry, to build innovative solutions that fit and adapt to overcome business challenges. We partner with an ecosystem of trusted and like-minded companies such as Axis Communications, Inner Range and VixVision to ensure our solutions are part of the most cutting-edge technology being used for things like advanced video analytics, retail traffic mapping and employee facial recognition in corporate settings. This also ensures continued diversity on our open platform.
Openness and flexibility continue to form a key component of Milestone’s core values. We understand that the economy of the future will require companies to build their business around innovation and the flexibility to pivot around the potential challenges and new opportunities. These fundamental values are key for success in the long run – to us and our partners.
We are also very proud of our Milestone Experience Centre in Melbourne, which showcases our platform in conjunction with eight of our closest partners. We will launch the second version of Milestone Marketplace® shortly. It provides a business platform on which our community can come together and find inspiration, share ideas amongst a strong network of likeminded professionals to enhance their existing installations. Version 2.0 brings enhanced features and benefits to the Milestone community, expanding the ways that our integrators and developer community can interact with us and one another virtually.
What is Milestone’s outlook for 2020 and beyond?
Larsen: Although we experienced an initial strong start to 2020, it’s undeniable that the present COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on businesses. At Milestone, we are navigating the same challenges that governments, industries and individuals across the globe are facing. We will use this time to help retrain and upskill our resellers and integrators in XProtect® so they will be ready to seize new business opportunities post-COVID-19.
We understand that in these times, reliable service and support is more critical than ever, and we will be supporting our customers and partners with a newly launched Care™ campaign, which includes upgrade offers, extra support, and lucrative offers for Care coverage. These support measures can be provided to customers without the need for onsite staff and will supplement their businesses during these crucial times.
Care revenue, most of which would be multi-year agreements, continues to grow and forms a solid foundation which helps us to navigate short-term market fluctuations. In addition to Marketplace, we also have multiple growth initiatives running in parallel to fuel our business further. However, we remain cautiously optimistic about the future as it remains uncertain what effect the COVID-19 virus will have on bookings in the longer-term.
Security Solutions also spoke with South Pacific Country Manager Brett Hansen.
You mention Milestone Care as a growth area – have you seen that it has an impact on sales in Australia, as well as globally?
Hansen: Yes, we have. At Milestone we recently expanded our Care team in the ANZ region, with a view to provide both a higher level of care to our Milestone Care customers and to grow our sales margin in the region. Particularly at this present time, the various levels of our Care program are providing ways for customers to keep their software fully up to date without needing someone to visit in person, as well as providing the extra value of our newly launched Care™ campaign that Lars mentioned. All this will certainly drive new business in our ANZ market.
Is growth in Aust being driven across both direct sales to customers and the reseller/MSP market?
Hansen: Early this year, we announced the hire of three new employees to the company’s South Pacific team reflecting strong local growth and designed to offer more support to customers and channel partners across the region.
We also have more technical staff to support our sales team and have also devoted executive-level employees to work on large, enterprise deployments. Our channel business team has expanded as well, which gives our valued partners more points of contact, and more expertise to help them with innovative and effective solutions. So, our growth is spread right across the spectrum, to ensure we are offering better support and value to integrators as well as end users.