Too Many Cooks Don’t Spoil Open Platform VMS

Our industry is collapsing and expanding on itself at the same time. What would Einstein say? Have we violated basic realities of business physics? Not really, we just happen to live in a time of many new start-ups, new software apps, stronger processing power, lower costs and more demanding markets and customers. It’s a simple recipe for success, right?

That depends on what entrée you plan to serve as your business strategy. Let’s take the video management system (VMS) market for our example, as it is fresh on my mind after participating in the 2015 Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) in Las Vegas. During a seriously bitter winter in Ohio, a few days to defrost seemed a welcome respite in February; so I accepted Milestone’s invitation.

Photo credit Jaume EscofetWhy not let a diverse team of suppliers and integrators make up the secret sauce that when baked, serves up innovative solutions? The binding agent in this cake mix is business growth for all.

There are three prime schools of thought and big gorillas in the VMS jungle. Avigilon, Genetec and Milestone dominate the category, and each has a different business philosophy. Respective to that manufacturer list, their philosophies include proprietary, semi proprietary and open platform. Each approach has pluses and minuses from a systems integrator business perspective.

Each has expanded its “universe” recently to include access control offerings and tighter integrations, which is a very good thing for security integration firms and their customers alike. You could argue the pluses and minuses over a couple of cases of good lager all afternoon and still be undecided on an absolute winner for every scenario (although you wouldn’t really care at that point; however, fisticuffs might ensue mixing allegiances with alcohol).

Stronger Support May Yield Tasty Results for All

Let’s focus on the open platform solution argument in this column. The “pro” argument is pretty straightforward if we provide the underlying stable software structure. Why not let a diverse team of innovative suppliers and integrators make up the secret sauce that when baked serves up innovative solutions? The binding agent in this cake mix is business growth for all participants in the open platform ecosystem. Hey, this strategy seems to work pretty well for Apple and Wikipedia, right? What could be better?

Corporate muscle comes to mind. The only thing scarier than an aggressive 400-pound Viking gorilla is one that has an 800-pound Samurai relative standing behind him. With the purchase of Copenhagen, Denmark-based Milestone by Japanese giant Canon in June 2014, you have just added a convection oven to this VMS kitchen. So what’s the biggest takeaway for infusion of capital with vendors for system integrators?

More investment in the right places throws tastier ingredients into the mutual business growth cake batter for everyone, including customers. Training is important for integrators and customers. Milestone recognized this and introduced a new training team to focus on developing better tools and learning methods in smaller, more focused bites. As I have spent a good deal of time in this training discipline, I can report Milestone is taking the right approach to enable systems integrators to gain relevant, specific, job-focused information in an à la carte, just-in-time methodology. Competency to go, if you will.

Take Advantage of Sales Assistance Tools

Milestone has also invested in a “global bid desk” concept that will enable its partners to more quickly qualify opportunities to pursue, providing the tools and staff to assist are in place. I must say, the software analysis and response tools were pretty cool. They will reduce response time significantly. More importantly, if the deck looks like it is stacked against you, then it is better to run away and fight another day. They will be able to objectively answer the question that adrenaline-charged salespeople may choose to ignore: Can we actually win this opportunity?

Sales discipline is a wonderful weapon. My rule has always been that if you have to read an RFP, you are already in trouble but don’t know it. This investment Milestone is making may change my mind on that sales belief about RFP management and response.

Finally, the strategy of enabling hordes of independent and innovative developers run around with your SDK toolbox means we will truly see the age of the video app emerging in the future. The iPhone provided the platform and with SDK tools, the rest is history. Could that happen in our security industry using VMS as the platform for imagination and problem solving? I certainly won’t bet against that play, and you shouldn’t either!

It’s plain to see the leadership culture at Milestone that walks their walk is the frosting on the cake that makes this dessert worth a closer look for your next video project entrée. Until next time, goodbye – or as the Vikings would say, farvel.

paul-boucherle_matterhorn-consultingby Paul BoucherleCertified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), Matterhorn Consulting