What's So Special About Milestone?By John Honovich, Published Nov 06, 2010, 08:00pm EDT
Milestone is one of the most well known companies in the industry yet neither its sales nor its technology is vastly superior to many other offerings in the market. While there is certainly something special about Milestone, it's clearly not revolutionary technology nor monster market share (e.g., their revenue is similar to Genetec's and their technology lags Genetec but Milestone's market 'awareness' far exceeds Genetec as well as many other larger competitors - DM, March, NICE, Verint, etc.).
The common explanation for this is simply better marketing (e.g., lots of press releases, contributed articles, ads, sponsorships, trade shows, etc). While there's no doubt that Milestone has an aggressive marketing effort, that's not especially unique in the surveillance market.
We think the key defining element is an 'open' go to market approach rather than the traditional 'elitist' approach in the security industry.
Most professional VMS/DVR providers focus on in-house enterprise salesman and a small network of loyal dealers and partners. Access to both product and information is tightly controlled.
Think about how Milestone is different:
- All of their software (from low to high end) is available for free download (30 day trial)
- Their basic software is available for free for permanent use (i.e., Milestone Go)
- They have software versions for various deployment sizes
- All of the manuals and in depth product documentation are available on-line
- Becoming a Milestone dealer (at least for the lower two product offerings) is pretty easy
- They seemingly partner with everyone (cameras, storage, analytics, etc.)
Even if the technology is no better than others, this approach makes it very easy for people to talk about, pitch, recommend, try out and learn Milestone's products.
There are downsides to this strategy - competitors can learn about their weakness, people like us can access and criticize their products publicly, dealers don't have a 'unique' offering, etc.
The upsides, though, is that they have acquired publicity, mindshare and access to deals that companies even 10x their size struggle to get. This is an application of a wider Internet phenomenon - reduce friction and leverage the web to reach a global audience faster and cheaper.
However, no other VMS/DVR company is anywhere close to executing such an 'open' go to market strategy. Worse, it's an approach that most incumbents find to be either wrong or scary. For a long time, the 'elitist' go to market approach was considered best. If this continues, that approach will make those companies less 'elite' than simply out of sight and out of mind.
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