Read an excerpt from ‘Business Magnetism – the Power of Partnership’, the new book by Milestone President & CEO Lars Thinggaard. ‘The Magnetic Center’ describes the first steps in developing the open platform integration model that has led to the global network of partner solutions bringing value to video management in all types of organizations.
Milestone Systems was extremely successful at taking ideas which seemed like sound concepts and putting them into practice. The key was doing it in a way that was scalable – without detrimental short-term effects. Take, for example, the evolution of our software into a truly open platform product. This centered on the development of an API (an Application Programming Interface) and an official software development kit, or SDK.
In the U.S., we actually began selling the concept of our software as an integration platform before either an API or SDK existed. It was a bold move, but we knew our software engineers were up to the task. As we expanded, I continued our founders’ strategy of employing smart, creative people to strengthen the business.
One of the first partnerships we developed was with a scrap metal yard that was a frequent victim of fraud. The solution we developed integrated their ATM system with Milestone’s video surveillance software to link video footage with customer transaction records, so that any impropriety could be spotted. This wasn’t a traditional ‘physical security’ use of surveillance cameras — monitoring potential intruders – it was a fully integrated part of a business system. This was extended to include perimeter surveillance of scrap yard premises to see if people were trying to steal the scrap to re-sell.
The partner, Transact, went on to develop a product called Scrap Dragon, based on the Milestone Integration Platform, sold to scrap yards in every state of the U.S. It was a huge success, and obvious evidence of the benefits in working on more ways in which we could integrate our software with others.
Around this time, at global headquarters in Copenhagen, we were working with end users including internationally renowned retailers. By making sure their business systems benefited from a seamless integration with our software, we were able to demonstrate a significant and rapid return on investment. The outlay for the integrated system was quickly recovered through the loss prevention savings, and thefts or mistakes were also prevented.
In these integration cases there was a clear financial benefit to the system user. The benefit was a direct result of the way we were able to integrate our software with that of others. This tied into our philosophy of openness in action, and we wanted to explore it further.
Milestone garnered significant coverage in the industry press on the projects we were allowed to publicize. We could feel the impetus growing. Up to this point, we had done the integration work ourselves. The significant difference with the Transact scrap yard integration was that we allowed them to do the integration on the API themselves. In this way we had indirectly enabled our first third-party vendor.
We decided that future growth lay in making integration to our software as widely available as possible. It meant that companies who were specialists in their fields could concentrate on their strengths, and use our software’s centralized system to broaden their customer base. We would train people in integrating their products with our software, and we would train users and installers to raise expertise in the technology. In fact, we would make that training – certification – a requirement in our business model.
Milestone would become an enabler. An educator. An innovator. A connector.