August 30, 2017

The Booming Drone Sector – a Fit for Your Business?

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry is exploding at a pace not dreamed possible at the turn of the millennium. To give you an idea, in 2013 there were some 300 Canadian companies in the sector. In 2017, industry watchers estimate there are close to 1,000. Business cannot afford to ignore drone technology because, simply stated, the drone industry is now considered an economic driver in Canada. Drones are the new workhorse of industry. Looking south, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects the number of drones sold to rise from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020.

Sky High Opportunity

Business has learned to leverage commercial drone technology to gain a competitive edge. Continuous access to fresh data harvested from drone software reduces the risk of making bad management decisions based on “current” data that has, in fact, been stale for months. The speed of UAV data collection – some 500 images in a single flight – gives companies a leg up on implementing new, more efficient management strategies.

Agriculture was an early adopter. UAV imaging is saving hefty crop investments from the ravages of disease, and making inaccessible areas of fields accessible. It makes sense that the commercial use of drone technology on farms has taken off right on the heels of precision farming technology.

Fresh data that can be quickly and efficiently refreshed can reduce, even eliminate, the mind-bending drudge work of data collection, which in turn, increases money-making efficiencies. What’s more, UAV software has the ability to perform complex data management functions that previously required expert number crunchers.

Keeping it Real

In the last four years Transport Canada has been deluged with a more than 2,000 percent increase in requests for UAV permits. To cut the flak and smooth the process, Transport Canada has introduced exemptions for commercial drone flyers who qualify. Flying a drone under an exemption can mean that a permit is not needed for every flight. For inter-provincial companies, a “blanket” exemption gives qualified flyers access to more than one province.

The increase in permits follows the rapid increase in UAV industry applications. Commercial drones can identify infectious diseases before they become a human threat. Environmental conservation drones are checking the ozone layer. Shark threat? Send up a drone spotter. Crumbling highways, bridges in need of repair? A drone can take a look and provide current data.

Keeping it real, almost surreal, the University of New Brunswick is using drones to save swimmers in trouble; drones can fly faster than people can swim.

Not Exactly Business as Usual

A business case for drone deployment isn’t hard to make – the efficiencies speak for themselves. And you don’t necessarily need a drone techie on board to put a UAV to work. A lot has already been simplified. According to one expert, a commercial drone system right out of the box comes with high-end cameras, mapping systems, HD video feeds and automation.

Whether you’re in real estate, construction and engineering, travel and tourism or are dealing with the threat of bugs eating your crop, a flourishing industry of UAV service providers can tell your story by creating and analysing rich data libraries. Their challenge is to help their clients access the data they need to remain current.

Coping with Constant Change

Adapting to rapid change is one of the toughest business challenges companies face in our tech-dependent world. Often it’s a matter of survival. Early adoption of commercial UAV technology is an excellent example of how savvy business leaders are using technology to deal with a rapidly changing ultra-competitive business environment. One expert describes drones as “transformative technology” that helps organizations become, and stay, nimble and adaptive. Fresh data can also help an organization drop the burden of a legacy that has outlived its worth.

According to a retail research firm, the sale of commercial drones has tripled in the last year and is expected to triple again in short order. Helping industry cope with rapid change is the silent driver.