The first virtual Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) took place last week, March 2-3, for an audience of more than 6,000 registrants (35 percent of which had never attended a MIPS before). The latest in a long line of events-gone-virtual, Milestone sought to stand out from the rest with shorter sessions weaved together with a narrative that made the conference feel cinematic.

“We wanted to keep our attendees engaged in the presentations, and we quickly realized just converting a physical event to a virtual event was not the way to be successful,” Milestone Vice President Tim Palmquist said to SDM after the show. “We got the idea from television, and utilized professional recording studios and green screens to deliver our message in the virtual city environment. We worked to keep it relatively short over the two days to best ensure engagement throughout the event hours.”

The extra effort apparently worked — Palmquist says they retained their viewership very well over the two days, with almost everyone staying on throughout all of the sessions. 

A main topic of discussion throughout the conference was “the new next,” Milestone’s twist on "the new normal." This theme of innovation and preparing for the future was explored throughout a virtual city, where attendees could move from building to building for different sessions. 

The future of video, and what that future might look like, was of particular focus. 

“Video is the new next of the 21st century, and we are the pioneers of the new next,” said Milestone CSMO Kenneth Hune Petersen in the first keynote. “We have an obligation to tell our end customers about the possibility of video, the possibility of tomorrow . . . because if we don’t tell them, they will miss out.”

The rest of day one included a presentation on the future of Milestone technology by Chief Technology Officer Bjørn Skou Eilertsen; a session about investing in the right partnerships by Palmquist; the exploration of a case study by Todd Brown of integration partner Affinitech; an interview with new Milestone CEO Thomas Jensen about the future of the company; and a second keynote by Peter Hinssen about thriving in what he called the “never normal.” 

“Companies need to keep a very keen eye on the day after tomorrow — new ideas, concepts and business models that change the game,” Hinssen said. “We don’t have to fear this uncertainty — we have to trust the opportunities in the never normal.”

There was also a number of on-demand sessions that attendees could (and still can) watch.

Day two was made up of three different tracks dedicated to the retail, cities and transportation industries. The first session of the day was a panel discussion focused on Milestone products and services, and what’s on the horizon for the company. 

“We are in a time of disruption,” said Milestone Director of Product Marketing Anders Bo Rasmussen, who led the discussion. “It’s going to be a journey where we must balance technology, ways of working and business ethics.”

At the end of the two days, the fact that everyone in the industry — and world — needs to start preparing for the future was made clear. 

“We see the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in many aspects of life, and now is a great time for the Milestone community to come together and shape the opportunities of tomorrow — that’s the new next,” Palmquist said. “We’re messaging that the future is speeding up and disruptions of the status quo are catalysts for change. It was a message to our partners that we are getting ready for this acceleration, and want to come together with them and get back into business in high gear.”

Reflecting on his first digital event, Palmquist says his team learned it is possible to keep people engaged online, and was happy that a broader audience was able to attend the virtual event due to its accessible nature.

Still, the company is looking forward to when they can host their next in-person event.

“MIPS is not MIPS without a physical event — we need the face-to-face interaction and opportunity to network to discuss these disruptions and learn about new products and innovation,” Palmquist said. “The physical event is very important to accomplishing these goals, but I also believe there should be an online element to MIPS going forward.

“I cannot wait to get back to a physical event, there’s no question about that. But it is sometimes good to be forced to change and explore new territory.”