Exclusive Q&A with Lars Larsen, Interim CEO of Milestone Systems
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Milestone Systems has reported annual net revenue in excess of DKK 1 billion following a year of strategic investments in innovation and development. International Security Journal spoke to Lars Larsen, interim CEO of Milestone following the departure of Lars Thinggaard in April, after 17 years at the helm. Larsen is also the company’s CFO and has played a significant role in the successful growth of Milestone, a global provider of open platform video management software, with strong entrepreneurial roots.
At the time of publication, much of the world is in lockdown. This will clearly have an impact on how businesses operate. How has it affected Milestone?
When we produced our report, our growth rate was – and is – above the market growth rate. Since then, the worldwide spread of COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted both Milestone and its people – but also its valued partner community.
We’ve seen people come together and corporations adapt to the largest remote working experiment in the world. Beyond connecting people, video is establishing itself as an important tool to mitigate the ongoing COVID-19; from the remote monitoring of sites, public places and warehouses – replacing the need for a large team of on-site personnel who could be put at risk via human-to-human contact – to video technology that can be deployed in the protection of our frontline responders in healthcare.
Although the ongoing disruption may have changed the way we work, our commitment to quality service remains the same. Our team is fully equipped and set up to support customers and partners remotely through various digital tools.
How will Milestone manage its growth, in light of COVID-19, going forward?
To mitigate risk as a software company and as part of our long-term contingency planning, we have already built up cash reserves that ensure business continuity in the advent of an unforeseen situation such as the coronavirus.
However, we have been able to maintain and preserve our business activities. In 2020, we have seen a strong start to the year and we are also seeing strong activity on our Care programme, which represents recurring revenue through our contracts.
Milestone is following the situation closely and is working with our partners to minimise the negative impact on our business environments, society, our employees and their families.
The report talks about Marketplace as an easy way to connect customers with innovation – can you explain how it works?
The main purpose of Milestone Marketplace is to connect people in the Milestone Open Platform Community by showcasing software and hardware that optimises XProtect and can solve real challenges with video management solutions.
The business platform solves the need to be transparent about what is readily available and to connect the buyer with the seller to create engagement and opportunity for sales conversations.
The search for a new Milestone CEO will take some time – how long do you anticipate the process taking and do you have anyone in mind?
We have chosen an open search to find the best person to become our CEO. I am taking on the role as an interim measure and bring with me my many years of experience working alongside Lars Thinggaard for Milestone. We are confident that this approach allows us the time to find the right leader for our company.
Over the past year Milestone has increasingly talked about the need for responsible technology – what steps has Milestone taken in that regard?
As part of our responsible use of technology initiative, Milestone has put together a cross-organisational team of contributors that are developing a framework that helps us to think critically about the consequences of advances in technology.
We take the responsible use of technology seriously, we may terminate the whole license for a product immediately if it is used in a way we consider to be a material breach of our EULA.
We are also encouraging our partners to involve themselves in the important discussion on responsible use of technology, to sign the Copenhagen Letter and adopt the Copenhagen Clause that we have introduced in our contracts, into their own agreements.
Innovations in technology should be celebrated, but we must acknowledge our role in developing new technologies responsibly. We hope our framework will provide a practical foundation on which to build a new approach to innovation.