Milestone Systems held its annual Partner Summit (MIPS)—the first since 2020—on Oct. 24-26, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Here, the open-platform video management software company gathered its top technology and security systems integrator partners to celebrate accomplishments and share plans for the future.
Running the show were Milestone Vice President of Americas Tim Palmquist and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Jensen. Interested in hearing more about their thoughts on the retail sector, and how they aim to help solve some of retail’s biggest issues, LPM sat down with Palmquist and Jensen for an exclusive interview on the tail-end of MIPS 2022.
LPM: There was a lot of discussion around growing different sides of the business at MIPS. Are you growing the retail side of the business at all? There’s been such a huge increase in retail crime, it seems like a big opportunity.
Tim Palmquist: Retail is very interesting to us, and we have an excellent installed footprint with XProtect in the retail vertical. XProtect and Milestone Kite are a great fit for many retail deployments. As of yet, we have not made a decision to hire a business development manager for this vertical. We are in the planning and discussion phases for our 2023 strategic plan, but no final decision has been made. This aside, we remain 100 percent committed to our retail customers within our broader selling force and within our overall regional plan. We believe Milestone Kite is a catalyst for us to be even more present in retail than we have been up until now.
LPM: What percentage of your business is with retailers?
Palmquist: Approximately 4 percent of our business sits with retail in the region. This is for recurring annual revenue and does not include new installations. This gives us ample opportunity to grow.
LPM: What are your goals for the retail sector?
Palmquist: To grow the business and increase our market share. A cloud-delivered VMS like Milestone Kite opens new opportunities for us in the retail sector that we might not have been well positioned for in the past. The ease of installation, set-up, and use of cloud-delivered VMS, such as Milestone Kite, will create opportunities for better business outcomes for our retail customers. Therefore, we’ll be paying close attention to this and contemplating how we might position our new product for future success in the retail sector.
LPM: Are you doing anything to slow the surge in organized retail crime?
Palmquist: We have an integration with Captis Intelligence, a third-party solution, that is directly targeted at helping mitigate crime in retail. Captis Intelligence helps organizations better prepare for retail threats by combining operational threat intelligence with open-source data to deliver pre-incident intelligence on a local or global scale. Milestone actively works with this third-party to address crime in retail.
LPM: How did you assist retailers through the pandemic?
Palmquist: We have a rich community of third-party innovation that stepped up to the plate to address pandemic-related needs. One of the benefits of the open platform is that with a seamless third-party integration, users are able to do all their configurations within the Milestone environment without having to switch between applications. An example is the occupancy/people counting solution which was used throughout the pandemic to manage crowds of people and ensure social distancing while also being applicable for business intelligence purposes and targeted marketing efforts. Further, no-mask detection was used to ensure compliance in terms of face mask usage.
LPM: How exactly does XProtect help retail customers?
Palmquist: XProtect is a full-featured, robust, and reliable VMS that can be counted on in small and enterprise retail environments alike. We have a rich ecosystem of integrations that support various verticals including retail. XProtect contains important data-driven features and functionality for loss prevention. Smart analytics such as RapidREVIEW enable the VMS to alert security staff when items make their way into shoppers’ personal bags without paying, for example. This directly benefits retail customers because better loss prevention means the store will likely engage in less price increases at the register to offset losses. Smart analytics also help with several important applications beyond security. These include traffic flow analysis and heat mapping. This means that store personnel are able to be notified when VIP shoppers enter the premises. This will guarantee that customers get the best shopping experience including providing faster customer service, the best merchandise at their finger-tips, and a quicker, more streamlined checkout experience.
LPM: There was a lot of discussion at MIPS about AI, and using technologies like facial recognition while maintaining customer privacy. What does that balance look like in retail stores?
Thomas Jensen: Our main concern here is trust. At Milestone, we believe that people deserve the right to feel safe, knowing that they can trust the way we develop and use video technology. At the heart of a retail video technology solution is customers’ images and data, and with that comes the responsibility for that data. It is very important for me that businesses balance security against people’s rights to privacy of their data. Trust is a must for retail businesses because customers almost always have a choice of where to buy, that’s why they need to be clear about how they use their customers’ data.
LPM: What did you take away from this conference after meeting with partners?
Jensen: My main takeaway from partner meetings was their acknowledgement of our strategic direction. For the first time, we shared our game plan for the next five years to become a global leader in data-driven video technology software in and beyond security.
There are three important points in this: Data-driven because data will be part of everything we do in the future. In security, this is our core business and helping people everywhere to feel safe and secure continues to be a priority. And beyond security, this is where we will add to our core business because we believe video technology will play a vital role in making society a better place for us all to work and live.
Learn more about milestone at milestonesys.com.