UAE – In May, Milestone Systems once again showcased the power of community in the Middle East with a record number of visitors, partners and customers attending its MPOP 2018 in Dubai.
More than 250 attendees and 24 solution partners enjoyed the unique opportunity to network and dive into the latest, cutting-edge solutions for security and beyond security on the Milestone Platform – all in the glam setting of the Ritz Carlton in DIFC.
In his keynote Christian Ringler, Director Middle East, Africa and DACH, emphasised the investments being made by Milestone in the region. Celebrating ten years presence in the Middle East, the Milestone Dubai office now has the largest team of sales, pre-sales and tech support for a VMS company in the region.
The MPOP also presented an opportunity for the community to meet with the recently appointed VP EMEA, Malou Toft. In her keynote, Toft outlined the Milestone strategy beyond security and introduced the strong Middle East management team bringing together sales, community, and technology expertise with Jomy Abraham; Technical Manager, Haider Muhammad; Community Manager, and Amine Sadi – who this July joined the ME team as Country Manager.
Recognising the importance of community, the Milestone Award Winners 2017 were announced:
Partner of the year 2017 in GCC Countries – G4S
Partner of the year 2017 in Africa – Cairo Communication systems (CCS)
Partner of the year 2017 in Levant – Libatel
Distributor of the year 2017 in Middle East – AnixterTechnology
Partner 2017 in Middle East – Dell EMC
Solution Partner 2017 in Middle East – Vidsys, Inc.
Project of the year 2017 in Middle East Sheikh Zayed Stadium – MVP Tech
Meanwhile, on the side-lines of the event, SSN Gulf caught up with Christian Ringler, Director Middle East, Africa and Dach, and Malou Toft, VP EMEA, to find out why the MPOP is so important and how 2018 is shaping up.
What do you get out of the MPOPs at this point?
CR: The main focus of the MPOPs is to show solutions together with our community partners. We are a platform company and we are looking for different solution partners to integrate their solutions into our software so that we can build up total solutions. That is the most value for our resellers, system integrators, A&Es, and finally of course the end users, because they can see the solutions live on site because all of the solution partners there are showing their solutions together with Milestone.
Do you change the event each year based on feedback?
CR: We don’t just do these kinds of event in the Middle East, they are worldwide. Of course, we look into what are the requests in the region, as well as getting the right solution partners in.
MT: Each event has a regional flavour, but we are using a common theme for some of the events. This year we have ‘Creating an Intelligent World’ – with all the talks about artificial intelligence and robotics and how this is bridging between the different industries. And then of course the Milestone platform, which is of course the common denominator in all this.
This region still poses unique challenges when it comes to doing business. What are the main challenges as you see them?
CR: What we have seen is that customers have requests for the projects, they need the solutions, but are often a bit vague on the financial side. This can cause delays. But we speak to other partners and they tell us the same thing, so we know this is an issue for everyone. From a product perspective a lot of Chinese companies are coming into the region and that is mostly all about low price.
MT: But on the plus side, given the characteristics of the region, there are sometimes investments into really large projects that can then frontier in specific verticals, and specific types of end customers. There is a willingness to invest in innovation and being a forward thinking place they embrace new technologies without fear. Because construction is so new there are also a lot less legacy systems to get rid of.
The UAE is obviously a key market for Milestone, but where else is particularly important to you in the Middle East right now?
CR: The UAE is definitely our most important market. Saudi Arabia is in our focus right now too and we see a lot of opportunity. It depends a little bit on whether the money is really there though in KSA for all the projects that are being discussed. We have seen positive movement in Bahrain and Oman too, but mainly with one-off project work. There are retail and airport projects coming up in these smaller countries, for example Muscat Airport is a Milestone project.
Malou, you are new to the role of VP EMEA. Have you set any specific goals that you would you like to achieve first?
MT: I came from a long career within the telecoms industry, also touching a little bit into the machine and IoT space. So, I will be bringing in some new perspectives – for example how are we seeing the different types of devices and the new sensors, not only cameras? How are we going to see these all converging over time for the different industries, whether that’s airports, retail, hospitals or whatever? We already have a very inspiring purpose of ‘Making the World See’ based on using video technology, and I think making this concrete for all of the regions in EMEA is really my top priority. We also need to be aware that within a growth industry, there are many bets you can make on what will do well – there are so many opportunities. Therefore, the art of prioritisation is super important.
What is the rest of your year going to look like?
MT: I’ll be spending a lot of time getting into the industry, meeting my teams, meeting our key partners, and also end customers. Learning where we have the more interesting combinations with our solution and developing partners. I’m doing a lot of travelling right now, touring around, because it is important for me to come out and meet the partners we are working with to really understand our value proposition. Then of course we have some strategic projects, including our system builder programme where we are allowing the hardware partners to actually place the Milestone software from the start so it is already embedded, more easy to use and scalable. This is one of the programmes we are rolling out this year and that of course needs to get legs. It is really about taking the baton and showing people what we are setting into motion and that we will succeed. The same goes for our new Marketplace, which is almost like a ‘dating spot’ for solution partners. As a company we always know someone who can make your solution look better, be more cost effective – and I think that is the strength that Milestone really sits on.