Milestone's Palmquist on community vs. company

Palmquist: 'Community trumps end-to-end all day long'
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—There was a lot of talk during the first day of MIPS (Milestone Integration Platform Symposium) about Milestone transforming itself from the “open platform company" to the "open platform community.”

Tim Palmquist, who runs the Americas for Milestone, spoke to Security Systems News about this announcement.

Open company, open community. What’s the difference?

Palmquist said it’s a philosophical change “that touches all aspects of the business.”

Milestone, a leading VMS provider, which experienced 30-percent growth globally in 2015 and had a 26-percent CAGR over the past decade, has branded itself as “the open platform company.” If you look at systems integration as a puzzle, Milestone has traditionally represented itself as the piece of the puzzle sitting at the middle of different technology partners, Palmquist said.

With the transformation to an "open platform community ... it's partnerships-first versus company-first," Palmquist said. "Milestone is not the middle piece of the puzzle any more." While Milestone still provides the platform architecture, "it’s an architecture that others build on and [all parties] work on as a community,” he explained.

How will Milestone enable community-building?

First, Milestone plans to improve its SDK design and do a better job documenting its APIs, Palmquist said.

“Milestone has to be diligent and proactive [with the] Milestone SDK. That’s a big game changer. We’re going to treat the Milestone SDK as seriously as other products,” he said.  

“If we can do third-party integrations more quickly, easily and consistently, this will speed innovation to the market and get to the point where integrations feel more standardized,” Palmquist said.

Second, Milestone is launching a developer forum to strengthen the developer experience.

The VMS provider will hold a competition at MIPS 2017 where software developers will share “successes, breakthroughs and products.” The products will be judged at MIPS 2017. Palmquist said Milestone will “tap into developers in Silicon Valley and at universities.”

“Their feedback to us on the SDK [will be invaluable]. We’ll learn what we’re doing wrong, what we can do better and improve,” he said. Milestone is also “going to get serious about forums."

Palmquist outlined other 2016 plans: creating an Advisory Board of partners and customers to advise on roadmap prioritization; create solution certifications to bolster reliability and ensure uniform quality; an online Milestone marketplace for partners to promote and sell their solutions; and, new co-marketing programs to strengthen commercial collaboration.

Back to the community-versus-company, Palmquist said, “When Canon bought Milestone and Axis, there was some market speculation that we’d go down the end-to-end route, but that’s not who we are,” he said. End-to-end is the opposite of the “community-first philosophy,” he said.

“End-to-end is me-first and [any integration with outside partners] is ad hoc, opportunistic and bolt-on,” Palmquist said. It may work to win a job or satisfy one customer, but it’s not a smart business philosophy, he said.

“We need third-parties to support innovation. Why are we open? Why do we share? Because that’s the way you get innovative technology faster.”

During a Feb. 24 presentation, Palmquist said, “Community trumps end-to-end all day long.”

He called Milestone’s community philosophy “a fundamentally different idea, and a fundamentally different go-to-market philosophy.”

Palmquist told integrators that Milestone’s approach is proactive and gives them a “decisive, competitive advantage. You have something unique, that puts the end customer in focus and thinks about [their] evolving needs.”