By the time the 2019 Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) had wrapped up, it was clear that the event had lived up to its main themes of disruption and innovation, with the launch of a new tool to connect buyers and sellers, a firm statement on the cloud and a focus on responsible use of technology.
Held in at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., this year’s MIPS welcomed a record number of attendees, who were treated to two days of keynote addresses and plenty of time to explore solutions from several of Milestone’s technology partners in the exhibit hall while mingling with colleagues and making new connections.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of MIPS was the launch of the company’s long-awaited Marketplace. More than simply a reinvention of Milestone’s Solutions Finder, Marketplace is an online tool that removes many of the obstacles that can make it difficult for providers to connect with potential buyers.
“The intention with Marketplace is to do a better job of connecting the sellers with the buyers and to break down the barriers within the community to make it easier for system integrators and end users to understand what the innovation looks like in the community and remove the friction in that relationship and take away the mystery,” said Tim Palmquist, Vice President Americas – Milestone Systems.
Susan von Bulow, Milestone’s senior project manager, said she believes Marketplace can be the kind of disruptive force in the industry that Uber and Amazon have been in the taxi and retail markets. The solution went live with more than 70 partners, and more joining all the time.
“With the user friendly interface, you'll be directed to trustworthy applications, hardware and services proven to work with experts, get in touch with technology providers and find out what you need to deploy your next solution,” she said. “From user reviews to documentation to demos and free trials, it's all there on Marketplace. We're making it easier to sort through the possibilities within video management and show you what the Milestone open community has to offer.”
Moving forward, Palmquist said Marketplace will follow a development roadmap with dedicated team members to build out the platform and ensure it continues to grow and evolve.
Planning for the Cloud
According to Palmquist, Milestone hadn’t taken a public position on where the company stands in its journey to the cloud, a point he quickly rectified in his keynote address. Reacting to statements he’d read saying that Milestone is sitting out the cloud, Palmquist was unequivocal in his answer.
“I want to clarify this morning that nothing could be farther from the truth," he said. "We're not going to sit out the cloud. We are absolutely investing in the future of the cloud. In fact, we’ve been doing so for several years. We’ve been investing in preparing for the development to cloud for many years, even sacrificing some of our capability to develop our products to prepare for the future of cloud.”
However, Palmquist stressed that the journey will not be a quick one, given vague definitions of what, exactly, the cloud is.
“We recognize the limitations of the cloud, and we’re being practical,” he said.
As a result, Palmquist announced to Milestone’s partners that the company’s first move will be toward a hybrid model with elements of the cloud and on-premise solutions.
“We’re taking a different approach … what we’re focused on is this time of unpacking the traditional client server and experiencing all the rich opportunities that come in through hybrid as we explore the different flavors moving forward,” Palmquist said. “And as we explore the many capabilities that are realistic to our business as we unpack the traditional client server, meaning that all of the new functionality built into our existing products will be built with an eye for hybrid and ultimately cloud.”
Data and Ethics
Without a doubt, the value of data has exploded in recent years, which has been tempered by developments in the area of protecting the privacy of that data, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in Europe in 2018.
With this in mind, Milestone took a stand on responsible use of surveillance technology at MIPS, announcing it is now including a Copenhagen Clause in its end user license agreements. The idea behind the clause came from the Copenhagen Letter, a 2017 document that calls for organizations to put considerations of the impact of technology ahead of profits. The letter has since been signed by individuals representing more than 5,000 companies worldwide.
“Technology doesn’t know if it’s being used for good or bad; that’s our role as humans,” Palmquist said. “We can build products that are very effective; they can be used in different ways and we need to step in and take a position on what that looks like. Tech is not above us. In other words, we need to pay attention to technology vs. society. Progress is more than innovation in technology.”