Commercial drone usage is set to explode in late 2016 as the FAA launches commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) licensing. Demand is strong with nearly 5,000 businesses approved and another 7,000+ open requests for 333 Exemptions that allow them to conduct commercial UAV operations under heavy restrictions. Drones allow for quick and safe aerial data capture at a greatly reduced cost, which makes them poised to shake up the way your business gathers, analyzes and acts on information.
Here are five ways drones are changing businesses this year:
1. Disrupting decision models
Drones are highly efficient data collectors. They make it cheap and safe to capture large amounts of visual data quickly. Having more data gives businesses the opportunity to make better decisions. However, to take full advantage of all this new data, professionals and business analysts must be ready to make sense of it and incorporate it into existing decision making models and processes.
2. Mitigated risk on historically dangerous jobs
There are a lot of dangerous jobs that require workers to put themselves at severe risk on a daily basis. Falling off of an object, getting crushed, electrocution…the list of hazards workers face goes on and on. Drones can be used to keep people out of harm’s way. For instance, a lightweight drone like the DJI Phantom, weighing less than three pounds, can go nearly anywhere to simplify inspections for construction sites before workers go into potentially hazardous areas. The use of drones to replace and support workers in these dangerous jobs can help minimize the loss of life and limb, reducing both human and financial costs.
3. Improved buying processes
New buying processes will emerge for many products and services. Drones can capture data about a building, property, or area that service providers can use to bid on jobs. In the past, businesses would need to schedule multiple potential service providers to come out in order to get competitive bids. Drone imagery allows multiple service providers to bid on a project without needing to show up to the location. That allows everyone to save time and the customer to get more bids more quickly.
4. Business opportunities transcend geography
Virtual reality is poised to explode this year, and drone-captured data will help feed the appetite for remote imagery and expertise. Whether capturing data about a single building or entire property, drones let anyone around the world view the details instantly. This ease of use will expedite your business process, drive sales and facilitate decision-making, and it will also solve the thorny conundrum faced by in-demand experts: how to be in several places at once. Drone data will bring the world to these experts, who will no longer need to rely on their physical location to make a living.
5. Avoid business downtime and unforeseen expenses
A disaster can devastate your bottom line, launch a PR nightmare and shut down operations, but drones allow you to keep an eye on operations and observe working conditions. They can better keep up on maintenance and enforce safety standards, and they can also help you track business assets and make sure minor problems are solved before they turn into catastrophes.
These are just a few ways we see drones impacting business this year. As drones continue to change the way things are seen and analyzed, the use cases will continue to grow. Companies that are not thinking about how to use drones as a new tool in their business will be left behind.