If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It
Milestone Systems opened its US office in 2004 with four people in a Beaverton basement.
It was a very nice house, but it was a bit unnerving. I had just taken the job and it was my first trip to Oregon and I was all excited, but a part of me was thinking, ‘What have I signed up for?’ – Tim Palmquist, employee number ten, now Milestone’s Vice President Americas
Palmquist joined Milestone in 2007, right in the midst of the IP camera revolution. IP cameras were rapidly replacing analog CCTV systems, and Milestone’s products were the networked solution for video management software. A decade later, Milestone Systems has more than 150,000 installations worldwide—in banking, retail, transport, city infrastructure, education, healthcare and more—with offices in more than 25 countries (the company is based in Denmark). That Beaverton basement has expanded over three floors of office space with more than 165 employees supporting the Americas’ business.
Now, with the onset of machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence, Palmquist anticipates another revolution.
Security was the growth catalyst, the explosion for this technology. But the potential beyond that area of application is evolving so quickly. We’re at the point now where, basically, if you can see other uses for it, you can do it. – Tim Palmquist
In the past, companies invested in IP video cameras for loss prevention, safety monitoring, or consolidating IT infrastructure. Yet with this new wave of innovation, return on investment is possible through outlets beyond surveillance—such as data collection, automation, and business intelligence.
Many industries have begun exploring these new capabilities. Retail companies have turned product placement and store layout into a science with their ability to monitor dwell times and traffic flow. Restaurants use video and analytics to optimize buffets and salad bars. Manufacturing companies pinpoint miscues in large-scale assembly and ensure contraband stays out of their equipment. Government and law enforcement use high-quality imaging and advanced filtering for handling “needle in the haystack” situations (such as expediting the investigation in the Boston Marathon bombing).
Some of the more sophisticated applications have come from marketing and advertising. One company has installed IP cameras on roadways to capture the make and model of passing cars; when the desired type of vehicle is matched with a customized database of criteria, the software can be triggered to display a targeted advertisement on a digital billboard for that specific driver. This was accomplished in Australia for a Porsche campaign and again throughout the U.S. for a Paramount Transformers movie.
Alternatively, many companies “dream it” by leveraging upon what others are using. For example, one of Milestone’s solution partners created a program that analyzed ocean wave patterns in remote locations to alert surfers of peak activity. That same wave analytic was applied by another company to measure beach and land erosion. A shipping company utilized that erosion technology to optimize shipping lanes in its harbors.
As a business owner, CEO, CFO, CSO or even product manager, all can benefit from video technology. They just have to discover what best serves their needs, and we can help with that. At first glance, surf technology wouldn’t benefit a shipping company—but it exposed them to these products and created something entirely new. – Tim Palmquist
To introduce more possibilities, Milestone is developing ‘Marketplace’, a service which profiles all the company’s third-party solutions to make integrated tools more visible and easier to discover.
With more than 10,000 installing partners, Milestone offers a global ecosystem of complementary products and add-ons. The company develops with an open platform architecture—with integration APIs in the software, training and developer kits for third parties to utilize—which allows multiple manufacturers to work together. The open platform approach ensures customers aren’t pigeonholed to any particular product or system and can implement whichever programs meet their needs over time.
We absolutely believe the end user should be free to choose the technology that best suits them. If we’re not adding value as a vendor, you should remove us. And that’s our motivation to keep innovating. – Tim Palmquist
Machine learning, IoT and AI will unleash a new S-curve of innovation, Palmquist predicts, similar to how the IP camera revolutionized video.
We saw what would happen with the IP camera and got involved at the right time. AI and machine learning will augment our traditional ways of doing business. Companies who explore these possibilities now will have a huge competitive advantage. -Tim Palmquist
Yet a more exciting development for Milestone lies in the immediate months: The company will soon move its Beaverton office to a brand new, 25,000 square-foot space in Lake Oswego. Milestone plans to add 15 employees next year.
We’re not done changing the landscape yet, and if that excites you, we welcome you to get on board.
This article by Harris Newman was published in Oregon Business Magazine November 2018.