There are 7 features in a video monitoring solution that we see as the most sought after by end users in Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs). Of course, the price point has to be right in order to be considered as a viable option to begin with; the system cost simply has to fit within the buyer’s budget. However, the real decision factors come down to the product’s ability to fit the business environment and to help with the challenging situations at hand. The most desired criteria are determined by these questions:
Will this product do what I need, when I need it? Will I be able to figure it out when I need it?
The following features address these concerns most directly:
1. Accessibility – Will I be able to use the system when I need to, regardless of where I am?
Milestone provides a choice of clients including our XProtect Smart Client for desktop users, our XProtect Web Client with zero installation requirements and allowing access from any computer, and our extremely popular Milestone Mobile client with Video Push notifications that give alerts and access to the video from anywhere.
2. Reliability – Will the data be there when I need it?
Our customers range from SMB installations to very large security-critical systems with thousands of cameras. Given our history and references, our SMB customers can be assured that their system will be available and responsive when they need it most. We also provide health monitoring services such as our cloud-based Customer Dashboard to provide visibility of system performance, reports, and alarms if or when something needs attention.
3. Easy to Use – Can I figure out how to go about it?
This is a very important aspect of our solutions. We continually invest in automation and simplification to provide the most “easy-to-do” experience for our SMB customers, regardless of role or task. These include wizards, the latest usability (UX) design methodologies from the consumer markets, and a variety of features such as different search functionalities to make it fast and intuitive to achieve the task at hand.
4. Compatibility – Can I pick any kind of camera?
Another critical aspect in the decision-making process is the depth and breadth of supported cameras. Since the SMB market is very price sensitive, the ability to connect any kind of camera is also an important factor. With the widest camera support in the video surveillance industry, our customers are able to connect any camera type, ranging from the simplest and cheapest to the more sophisticated ones.
5, 6, 7. Expected, Forgotten and Differentiating Features
There are also some features we think are “taken for granted” by customers – they expect to have these in all video system offerings. There are also some features that may not be used enough. Certain features can also be noted as strong differentiators compared to other video surveillance offerings in the market.
Generally, the features most taken for granted are those that resemble traditional analog CCTV functionality, such as live viewing and playback of recorded data. Some of the simpler features such as basic maps have become common in the industry, as well.
The features mentioned in this article can each be considered a differentiator depending on the customer’s environment and needs. These include:
- the Milestone Mobile app with Push Notification and Video Push,
- our system health monitoring solutions such as the cloud-based Customer Dashboard,
- over 5,000 camera model integrations and
- hundreds of third-party system integrations to enable both immediate and long-term flexibility, and
- our Care services providing technical and upgrade support for whatever the future holds.
In general, this relates more to “how the system is used” rather than specific features. SMB customers may not realize that the video data is able to provide value in more situations than just security incident management. We find that customers who start using the video as a tool for their business operations achieve many benefits and use it more consistently. Some of these areas include employee training and adherence to proper procedures, improving business efficiency and effectiveness, supporting business operations remotely, accepting deliveries remotely, and generally linking video data to other sources of data such as Point of Sale transactions, access control, and so on.
One of the strongest things that supports usability is Milestone’s scope of third-party integration partners who create inter-operable solutions with our open architecture video management software. As SMB customers come to understand the additional value to be achieved by combining sources of data to use actively and efficiently in their businesses, our hundreds of integrations become meaningful, both in immediate and long-term perspectives.
by Matt Fishback, Business Development Manager, Milestone Systems