Mike Taylor has been involved in security industry sales for more than 20 years, on the front line of industry changes and watching how they impact customers. Among the changes is a shift in the nature of the sales function itself.

As Director of Sales, Americas, for Milestone Systems, Mike Taylor currently oversees a team that brings to market the full suite of Milestone open platform solutions. We sat down at Milestone Community Days (MIPS) earlier this year to discuss the technologies and trends shaping the market, from artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning to cybersecurity and return on investment (ROI)



Q: How much of the technology we hear about today – such as AI and deep learning – is theoretical? Maybe it will come in the future, but your customers live in the real world. How far behind are they, technically speaking?

Taylor: When you say “behind,” the beautiful part is that we [at Milestone] are not behind at all. Through our integrations and the open community, we are well ahead of competitors. Competitors who do end-to-end solutions are always chasing, always trying to match the latest analytic that came out.

We have the ability to say, “this is the latest and greatest product, they have our API [application programming interface] and they’re integrated, so let’s go.” That’s the beauty of being the platform on which everyone rides. If you just sell cameras, you are always trying to catch the next camera company. Instead, let’s just open it to everyone; be the open platform.

Pull all those partners in, and as there are new advancements, we do integrations to them. We do Camera Pack releases every six to eight weeks, so we generally have camera drivers done to our software and released to the market before cameras are commercially available. We are well positioned as new features, such as AI and deep learning, come online.



Q: How do you bring customers along?

Taylor: As the field sales team, we go out and do multiple trainings to an integrator. The first training is “here’s what’s coming in the current version, and here’s the next version.” The next round of training is talking about future integrations, and new things coming to the market. We also do a professional business review (PBR) with our partners.

We sit down with them, go through all the business; it’s a review of how they have done and where they’re going. We also sit down and understand their business plan. We talk through with them what our business plan is and how we’ll partner with them. We also want to open their eyes to new technologies that will open new revenue and sales opportunities, or even new industries. A partnership we have could open new doors for them.

e are well positioned as new features, such as AI and deep learning, come along
Milestone talks to customers about future integrations, and new things coming to the market, before doing a PBR


Q: Is there an appetite among security integrators to expand into new markets outside security?

Taylor: When you say security integrators, maybe not. What we’re starting to see is infringement of IT and IoT contractors, different groups coming into the space that understand it and see the opportunity there. I have seen a shift of companies wanting to look into other markets and create a better opportunity.



Q: Do you sense any lingering scepticism in the market about the next wave of video analytics, or about whether the new category of deep learning products will live up to their promise?

Taylor: For years, we [as an industry] would go into the marketplace and say, “if you install a video system, we will reduce your guards; we’re going to help your ROI by reducing the number of people you need.” The problem is, we have done a very poor job of that. In fact, it isn’t true. The fact is, we have brought in more data that has required them to hire more and more people.

When I put so many cameras in that you require three people to watch them instead of one, you have not reduced [labour]. I believe that, moving forward, AI will truly give us an opportunity to deliver on the ROI promise that we have been selling for the last 10 years.

I have a lot of faith that we will be able to comb through all that data, put it through a funnel, and just drop individual pieces of data that are important, and allow customers to reduce their overall staff, and give them a true ROI.



Q: There’s more data than ever, so everything is more complex.

Taylor: A cynical person would say that more data has made systems more complex, but an optimist will say that it creates new opportunities. Now that we have that data, what other things can we do with it? This will open an amazing amount of opportunities.

The amount of data can be overwhelming, but it absolutely creates opportunity – for us as a manufacturer, and also for our partners, and for integrators who want to evolve and do more than just deliver electronics or put in cameras.

Milestone want to be a market leader, like they are in the VMS space.
The amount of data around on the market can be overwhelming, but it absolutely creates opportunity


Q: Cybersecurity is a lingering problem for the market. What is Milestone’s role? How can you help fill the gaps?

Taylor: We want to be a market leader, like we are in the VMS space. We want to drive innovation and do it from both sides. We are doing it internally with our hardening guide and more layers of security. We also want to push our partners to be more secure. We are an open platform, but if you want to connect to us, there is a level of security required.

We have a duty to educate our systems integrators and help them get stronger. We offer software support upgrades, including three new releases a year, with each one having more stringent cybersecurity built in. For companies that don’t charge for software support, but then don’t do an upgrade for two years, think about how many threats come out every month.

We need to be the industry leader and the ones to step up. We want to work with like companies that want to drive that message. We have to use our pulpit as the leading VMS to drive focus on cybersecurity.



Q: What will be the industry’s biggest challenge in the next year?

Taylor: I don’t see a lot of challenges in the marketplace, but the economy could be problematic. At Milestone, we are very confident where the product team has brought the product, and in the business plan we have laid out. We just need to work to the plan we have built and continue to invest.

The only problematic thing that I see is the economy, because it is completely out of our control. But even if that turned today, it would be a problem in early 2019, not this year.



Q: You have been in the industry a while: What is the biggest change you have seen as it relates to the sales function?

Taylor: It used to be that if you didn’t have a degree, didn’t have a profession, then you would go into sales. We are in a whole new world today, where sales is highly specialised and there is a specific skillset that you need. We don’t use the term sales inside Milestone, we use the term “GTM” or “go to market,” because this is the team that goes to market.

ave a much higher level of person who is more consultative and who builds relationships for the long term
Milestone wants to focus on how sales roles have evolved from being numbers people to building strong relationships and delivering service and consultancy

We don’t have regional sales people, we have channel business managers who manage the VARs, the partners, the inside team. The biggest change has been away from “we’re worried about selling, selling, selling because we have a number to make.” Now we have really changed. We have a much higher level of person who is more consultative and who builds relationships for the long term.

If you look at Milestone, we have always just done software. That is our niche. It has been important to improve the customer service we give, to improve the quality of salespeople we have. That’s the biggest difference for me: The quality of the sales individual and how that role has evolved from being a numbers person to more of a service delivery and consultative person.



Q: What message do you have for customers?

Taylor: We at Milestone have been very stable and steady and steadfast in the idea that we are a platform. We are building a platform for others to build on. We want to be the iOS, and we want the Milestone community to be the App Store. We want to be the backbone on which people ride, and we have been steadfast about that for years.

Most of the people at our yearly Milestone Community Days (MIPS) events are key systems integrators to us. A lot of our partners come to MIPS to see what is next, what is the future, what are the new technologies that are coming. I love seeing the number of new faces and vendors at these events. We bring these opportunities to market.

I really wish there was an opportunity for all our partners to come to MIPS, although it would be a huge undertaking! We get amazing feedback from attendees. It’s more than just “that was an amazing speaker.” It is the networking that goes on, the opportunity to see our partners all in one place. For me, I would like to see double the attendance at MIPS. It builds that community.

And if you are a platform, you are only as strong as the community you support. We’re out in the marketplace saying, “tell me what your needs are.” And let us bring our community along to solve them.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

How soon will access control cards become extinct and why?
How soon will access control cards become extinct and why?

Since the advent of the physical security industry, access control has been synonymous with physical cards, whether 125 kHz ‘prox’ cards or the newer smart card alternatives. However, other credentials have also come on the scene, including biometrics and even smart phones. Some of these choices have distinct cost and security advantages over physical cards. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How soon will the access control card become extinct and why? 

Addressing the Internet Of Things (IoT) and challenges in device design using a comprehensive approach
Addressing the Internet Of Things (IoT) and challenges in device design using a comprehensive approach

As the number of connected devices increases worldwide, the ways that they are being used, designed, and tested have also expanded. The rise of connected devices is demanding engineers to harness the power of the internet of things, which is expected to hit 28 billion by 2025. A comprehensive approach to device design is needed more than ever to address the challenges that this rapid growth will bring. Why engineers should be using IoT technology in product design The demand for devices designed to use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology is increasing as more industries are finding expanded ways to put them into use. Industries such as healthcare, automobiles, and agriculture are becoming more dependent on cloud capabilities and are therefore in need of new devices able to connect to it. Due to this rise in demand, an increasing amount of devices are delivering a multitude of benefits both to consumers and companies. However, this new wave of products has led to a growing list of challenges for engineers as they are forced to address IoT tech in regards to connectivity, regulations, longevity, and security. Ways to use IoT in the development process Engineers are facing these new challenges along with the normal pressure of deadlines and test considerations. By approaching all of these issues from a comprehensive point-of-view, the solutions become clearer and new device capabilities can be born. Let’s look at the challenges individually as well as possible solutions for them. Improving connectivity IoT enables data to be transferred between infrastructure, the cloud, and devices, making the process smooth  Because IoT is based around connection, it’s no surprise that the primary challenge for engineers to overcome is the improvement of connectivity between devices. IoT enables data to be transferred between infrastructure, the cloud, and devices, so making this process as smooth as possible is crucial. The main challenges involved with connectivity have to do with development and product testing while meeting industry standards and best practices. Additionally, many companies lack the necessary equipment and technology to develop new IoT devices, which makes it difficult to create scalable prototypes and test new products. Suggested solutions To address the issue of not having the expertise and necessary tools for testing, we suggest outsourcing the prototyping and evaluation process instead of attempting to tackle this in-house. By doing this, you’re able to free up resources that would otherwise be needed for expensive equipment and qualified staff. Helping comply with regulations When working with devices that are connected across the world, there is a complex web of regulations and conformance standards that can lead to challenges for engineers. The necessity of complying with these regulations while also pushing to meet deadlines can be burdensome and lead to an increase in production time and expenses. Failure to comply with global and regional laws, as well as system and carrier requirements, can lead to fines and costly setbacks. This type of failure can destroy a company’s reputation on top of causing financial losses, often leading to the loss of business. Suggested solutions By testing the IoT device design and components early, engineers can address any pre-compliance issues that may arise. During the early stages of development, we suggest using scalable and automated test systems readily available in the marketplace. Improved communication with other devices New challenges arise as new devices hit the market and existing technologies are redesigned to offer a better experience In the rapidly growing number of connected devices, new challenges will arise as new devices hit the market and existing technologies are redesigned to offer a better user experience. This rapid growth in devices will lead to congested networks leading to the necessity of devices being able to function in the midst of increased traffic and interference. Failure to do this will lead to delayed responses which could prove to be fatal. Suggested solutions The best solution for this issue is found in the evaluation process and supporting test methods that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published in the American National Standard for Evaluation of Wireless Coexistence (ANSI). This process addresses the interconnectivity issues present in radio frequency environments. The outlined process involves defining the environment and evaluating the wireless performance of the equipment through thorough testing. An in-depth version can be found in its entirety online. Increasing the longevity of devices IoT devices are being used in vital industries such as healthcare and automotive so battery life and power consumption are two challenges that engineers must take seriously. A failure in this area could potentially lead to loss of life or safety concerns on the road. As new firmware and software are being designed to address these factors, engineers must be implementing them into IoT devices with the ability to be continually updated. Suggested solutions Longevity should be addressed in all aspects of the design process and tested thoroughly using a wide range of currents. By doing this, an engineer can simulate consumer applications to best predict performance. Security Security and privacy are concerns with any technology, but with the use of IoT in medical devices, it’s paramount Security has been a controversial issue for IoT since its inception. Security and privacy are concerns with any technology, but with the widespread use of IoT in medical devices, smart home appliances, and access control and surveillance, it’s paramount. For example, medical devices may store information about health parameters, medications, and prescriber information. In some cases, these devices may be controlled by an app, such as a smart pacemaker, to prevent heart arrhythmias. Naturally, a security issue in these devices could be devastating. Another example of dangerous security concern is with surveillance cameras and access control, such as for home or business security systems. These intelligent door locking systems contain locks, lock access controllers, and associated devices that communicate with each other. Suspicious activities are flagged with alerts and notifications, but if a hacker gains access, it can lead to real-world, physical danger. Security design points Here are some key points for security design: Physical security: IoT devices may be in external, isolated locations that are vulnerable to attack from not only hackers but by human contact. Embedding security protection on every IoT device is expensive, but it’s important for general security and data safety. Security of data exchange: Data protection is also important because data gets transmitted from IoT devices to the gateway, then onto the cloud. With surveillance and access control information or sensitive medical information, and encryption is vital to protecting data from a breach. Cloud storage security: Similar to data exchange, the information stored in medical devices, surveillance and access control systems, and some smart appliances with payment features, must be protected. This includes encryption and device authentication through access control, which can police what resources can be accessed and used. Update: Security vulnerabilities will always occur, so the key to addressing them is having a plan to address errors and release patches. Customers should also have options to secure devices quickly and effectively. Suggested solutions Engineers can include security and protection into IoT devices with early and perpetual testing throughout the design process. Most security breaches occur at endpoints or during updates, giving engineers a starting point for how to address them. Creating more secure devices Ensuring the security of connected devices should be of supreme importance for engineers as these devices are vulnerable to security breaches. The ultimate security of devices goes beyond the scope of engineering as the network and enterprise levels must also be secure to protect against potential threats. However, engineers play a role in this protection as well and should consider device security in the design process. Suggested solutions On a device level, engineers can help protect IoT devices from vulnerabilities by implementing early testing and continuing it throughout the design process. Most security transgressions occur at endpoints so this continual testing can, and should, create barriers to breaches. Regulations and compliance For IoT engineers, the complex web of regulations and compliance standards present new challenges Regulations and compliance surrounding data and technology are nothing new, but for IoT engineers, the complex web of regulations and compliance standards present new challenges. Engineers are already addressing obstacles in security and connectivity, all while meeting deadlines, and working around regulations adds time and expense to the process. Unfortunately, a failure to comply with global, regional, or local laws can lead to setbacks and fines. In addition to time lost in production and possible fines, the damage to a company’s reputation can lead to even more losses. Suggested solutions Compliance should be considered early and often in the design process. In the early stages of development, the IoT device or components can be tested to address and compliance issues. If possible, use a scalable and automated test system. The comprehensive solution As we stare at an uncertain future full of possibilities, it’s clear to see that new challenges will continue to be presented as technology evolves and new innovative devices are designed by engineers. By addressing these issues early and often, solutions can be implemented and problems prevented before they even have a chance to occur thanks to sound engineering and solid design.

Everbridge provides the critical event management platform to help organisations manage the full lifecycle of a crisis
Everbridge provides the critical event management platform to help organisations manage the full lifecycle of a crisis

The UK Government is consulting on plans to introduce a new law requiring operators of public spaces to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take proportionate and reasonable measures to prepare for and protect the public from such an attack. Under the proposals outlined in the consultation document, those responsible for a publicly accessible location will have a ‘protect duty.’ The protect duty would apply to certain publicly accessible locations, widely defined as ‘any place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.’ Publicly accessible locations Publicly accessible locations include a wide variety of everyday locations such as: Sports stadiums, festivals and music venues, hotels, public houses, clubs, bars, casinos, high streets, retail stores, shopping centres, markets, schools, universities, medical centres, hospitals, places of worship, government offices, job centres, transport hubs, parks, beaches, public squares, other open spaces. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does demonstrate the diverse nature of publicly accessible locations. To manage these challenges, some organisations are relying on guarding and manual solutions or processes Organisations responsible for publicly accessible locations have many challenges they need to overcome while at the same time ensuring that safety and security is visible, yet non-intrusive. To manage these challenges, some organisations are relying on guarding and manual solutions or processes, whereas other organisations have invested heavily in diverse security technologies: CCTV, access control, intruder alarms, fire detection, intercoms and more. Managing public safety Effectively managing public safety and security is difficult and can be costly. Potential liabilities are something to seriously consider, based on forthcoming regulation and prevailing public expectations. When a critical event unfolds public reactions can be difficult to safely manage, however this is now a must do. Public space operators need to get the right information to the right people at the right time to protect all people, including every single member of the public. Their work with public and private sector clients around the world has enabled them to understand ‘protecting the public’ challenges and offer solutions that meet the specific requirements. Public space operators and organisations must keep track of all emerging threats and assess the potential impacts of when, not if, they will experience a critical event. Unpredictable threat environment Security executives have the challenge of protecting people, facilities and assets With an increasingly complex and unpredictable threat environment, it has never been more imperative to act faster. With more complete intelligence, organisations can increase their speed and decisiveness to assess risks and prevent those risks from harming people or disrupting operations. Leisure and entertainment is a prominent UK industry, that is also one of the most vulnerable to safety and security threats. Security executives have the challenge of protecting people, facilities and assets, while also maintaining friendly and welcoming services to visitors. Public venues and retailers must provide non-intrusive client safety and security. For the would-be criminal, safety and security provision should be a visible deterrent. Balancing these needs is where Everbridge can help organisations. Everbridge provides the critical event management platform to help organisations manage the full lifecycle of a crisis. Facilitating device activation Their platform correlates events from disparate safety and security systems into a common operating picture to focus people’s attention on what really matters. The platform provides users with actionable alerts, next step actions, and automated reporting to better manage risks, ensure compliance with operating procedures and support the business continuity. Automated workflows ensure rapid, consistent responses, reducing the risk of human error Automated workflows ensure rapid, consistent responses, reducing the risk of human error. It also facilitates device activation to ensure they are always in operational control and protecting the people. Dynamic reports and dashboards provide real-time actionable insights for the operations teams and senior executives. Benefits include: Real-time situational awareness. Reduces risk. Accelerates response times. Avoids technology lock-ins. Prevents information overload. Keeps stakeholders informed. With Everbridge, the organisation can deliver the public protect duty. Now and in the future.