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From consolidation to video services: Milestone’s Thinggaard talks coming trends

Published on 10 April, 2015

Milestone Systems is closing in on a year since their acquisition by Canon’s European subsidiary in June 2014. Throughout the ownership transition, Milestone has reiterated its commitment to open systems and continued to flourish, building its “ecosystem” alongside other industry partners. At the recent Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS 2015), I had a chance to chat with Lars Thinggaard, Milestone’s president and CEO, about industry trends and what’s ahead for Milestone. Following is some of that conversation. What changes in the industry are impacting Milestone?

Thinggaard: Some of the trends are portability, mobility and cloud services. We are well positioned. There is also some horizontal consolidation in the industry – it’s a trend that could continue. Is horizontal consolidation a counter-force to open standards?

"Video enabling, broadly speaking, is getting there – video used for other purposes than just security", says Lars Thinggaard, Milestone’s president and CEO

Thinggaard: That could be the case if the wrong kind of companies [were] to consolidate horizontally. They might want to make it one-stop shopping, or proprietary jail as we call it. If the companies doing the consolidation are not keen on openness, then it would contradict what we are trying to do here. Do you see any of the consolidation leading in that direction?

Thinggaard: Some companies have that strategy and thinking behind them. I happen to be with a company that has the opposite approach. What is your biggest challenge as a company?

Thinggaard: I would say that it’s always a resource game, regardless of having a 200,000-person company (like Canon) backing you. Do we want to invest in more products or more sales offices? That hasn’t changed, but now we have more data and can analyse and provide a better foundation for the decisions, whether to add resources for more marketing, more sales offices, or more product. It’s always difficult to allocate the resources, to prioritize. You only have 100 percent to split. In a market growing 15 to 20 percent a year, it’s very important to make your bets right. There are hundreds of opportunities, anything from funding specific features in the products, or looking at what next big country we should invest in. One hundred percent is all we have. What is the biggest opportunity for Milestone?

Thinggaard: To really live the full dream of the open platform and to have the industry gather around the IP video open platform as, more or less, a de facto standard. When we get to that level, then we have succeeded. I would say that we will be halfway there when we are twice the size of our number two competitor in the market. What do you see as the impact of the Chinese companies on the U.S. market?

Thinggaard: I think as a software guy, I am less concerned than the hardware guys. The commoditisation from the Chinese is going to be there. It’s very hard not to be impressed by the sales numbers. They are improving product quality on the hardware side. Where I would be more concerned would be on the software side, if the Chinese developed strong software, which has not traditionally been the case. A prerequisite to provide a more flexible, long-term solution is strong software at the core. What is the biggest technology innovation in the market?

Thinggaard: Video enabling, broadly speaking, is getting there – video used for other purposes than just security. We also refer to something we call video services. For example, we see video being used in entertainment. In the future, we could have baseball players wearing a camera in their helmet or on their shirt, and use a recording platform to push the video through mobile devices, and fans could subscribe to a service to follow their favourite baseball player. Our platform works well in that situation, and backed by a company like Canon, which is a big powerhouse, that is an opportunity we may see in the future.

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