End-to-End Solutions are a Dead End: The Road to the Future is Open
By Tim Palmquist, VP Americas, Milestone Systems
On one side lies the short road of end-to-end, proprietary solutions from companies looking to protect their own interests by locking customers into their products alone. This road ends fast when a customer wants to add new functionality to their system, and it has not yet been created by their single vendor. This limited short-term way of doing business puts existing investments in jeopardy and places integrators in a very awkward situation.
On the other side lies an entire network of roads that stretch far and wide with open platform solutions designed by a collaborating community. This choice is filled with components from technology partners that work together to create a comprehensive solution to meet each customer’s evolving needs. At any time, solutions can be upgraded or added as partners develop new technologies and functionality while maintaining existing investments.
The physical security industry is at this important crossroads, and Milestone Systems is forging confidently forward to continue blazing the trail of open platform solutions. We are taking the next step in this evolution by moving from the open platform company to the open platform community.
The Open Platform Community Serves Customers Best
With the open platform community, we’re putting the focus on partnerships first. This move from an open company to an open community can best be illustrated by comparison with a small town. Envision a town center with a courthouse and city hall, a bank, doctor’s office and school, the local market-all anchored by Main Street where the community gathers to do business. As time passes, small towns grow into cities. But to accommodate the growth and thrive, two key elements must be in place: leadership and critical infrastructure.
First, it takes leadership with a vision for growth to move forward. Second, it takes critical infrastructure—water, power, electricity, bridges, streets, and highways—to grow and scale out a town. With leadership and critical infrastructure in place, the small town can grow and welcome more people, new industries and jobs over time.
At Milestone, we’re building our global community with solid leadership and a commitment to expand the infrastructure needed to underpin the open platform scalability. From a technology perspective, the critical infrastructure is having an application programming interface (API) built into our software that is purpose-built for communication with third-party solutions.
Solutions can be upgraded or added as partners develop new technologies and functionality while maintaining existing investments
It’s also the software development kit (SDK), the toolbox of resources that allows developers to create third-party solutions.
By moving from the open platform company to the open platform community, we are doubling down on the critical infrastructure that reinforces the community. We’re putting our SDK on the roadmap and investing more resources toward building more tools needed for third parties to have an easier, more streamlined way to create integrations with the Milestone portfolio. This will greatly accelerate development in the overall marketplace, increasing the size and well-being of the community.
Additionally, a Milestone Developers Forum will act as a fulcrum for technical stakeholders to openly share their successes and learnings, to help move innovation forward and expand value for the customers. We’re working to build an even stronger community of open platform development partners, to highlight and recognize their progress, and dedicate resources to further develop new opportunities together.
Partnerships Move the Industry Forward
The market and customer requirements can change drastically over time. These evolving needs new innovations and technologies that allow customers to implement additional functionality in a way that maintains their existing investment.
This is best accomplished with open platform technology, where APIs, SDKs, and people in an organization are dedicated to working with third parties to encourage development and build up the community. Certification that tests and documents solutions from multiple manufacturers further reassures customers and integrators that the components of their customized solutions will work together.
As we look at innovation in the market, we see amazing things happening. So many unique and powerful integrations are presented on our website: laser, radar, sound sensors, traffic analysis, license plate recognition, vehicle brand ID, gunshot locator, live incident tracking, retail and marketing analytics, video synopsis and more coming constantly. All these new innovations are available to add on to existing Milestone video deployments to meet the unique needs of individual customers and facilitate their needs both today and tomorrow.
Why Open Solutions Win?
Imagine if the technology landscape was filled with manufacturers who believed only in end-to-end solutions. What if their sole focus was putting together a video management software (VMS), cameras, access control and analytics, to solve the end user needs today, but not thinking much about how their needs will evolve?
The landscape for end-to-end solutions is not designed to address the long-term evolving needs of customers. It’s designed to address the sale of the day. End-to-end solutions are inherently limited because a manufacturer can only deliver so much technology on their own.
These short-term solutions create vulnerabilities for the customer and for the system integrator that deploys an end-to-end solution. The integrator is put in a particularly perilous position when they deploy an end-to-end solution because it is unknown whether the solution will be able to evolve with the customer’s needs, whether it’s next year or ten years down the road.
Meanwhile, open solutions built within a wide and diverse community of partners are a win-win for customers and integrators alike. Open solutions and partnerships create great long-term value for customers. In turn, integrators can feel confident about the solution they are selling and installing, without fear of future repercussions.
The Milestone open platform community’s ability to deliver innovation to the marketplace and address customer demands is key to maintaining investments for the long term. End-to-end solutions are not well suited to do this because they are a short-sighted business approach that’s really about the manufacturer first. The community model is about putting the customers and the partnerships first. End-to-end is truly a dead end.