The Commercial Drone Industry: Bubble Burst, or Billion Dollar Industry? What the Data Says

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Answering questions about a new industry is challenging: data can be hard to come by.  Media guesses range from “game over” to “billion dollar growth industry.”  That’s why DroneDeploy’s industry report has value: with a five year history and a robust client list, the leading drone mapping platform is in a position to gather data from their customers and compare it over time.

DroneDeploy recently surveyed 145 customers across 10+ industries, including Oil & Gas, Agriculture, Mining, Roofing, Construction, Solar Energy and more, asking how they drones and drones software and how they are benefiting from this technology.  (You can download the report for free, here.)

Expected – and Unexpected – Use Cases

Drones and drone mapping platforms show clear benefits and have established use cases in construction, insurance, agriculture and insurance.  DroneDeploy is seeing more and more use cases that we haven’t thought of before.  One big 10 university, for example, is using drone technology for applications that range from facility maintenance to security.  With more than 2000 acres to manage, they’re using drones and DroneDeploy to manage their lawns – and to go further:

The university aims to track year-over-year erosion and tree lean through DroneDeploy. This will bring even more cost savings and campus security, as the university’s team will be able to spot and address trees that could potentially fall and damage campus buildings or harm students.

One major hotel chain has found benefit in using drone technology to manage and monitor sites around the globe – allowing executives who sit in a central office to make informed decisions about maintenance, security, and new buildings.

Drones May Be “Ubiquitous”

The vast majority of customers said they expect both their use of drones and the use of drones in general to increase.  Some key takeaways from the report:

  • 92% expect drones to become more common in their industry by 2020.

  • 90% expect to increase their spend on drones / drone software in 2020.

  • Downside protection across various categories drives 69% of use cases, including increased safety (29%), risk management (21%), and compliance (19%).

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they use drones to “improve operations” and “increase productivity”.

  • Respondents noted the top three benefits were innovation (59%), increased efficiency/speed (57%), and cost-effectiveness (50%).

While most customers already using drones expect their use to increase, there remain many companies slow to adopt, says the report:

…this efficiency and optimization have lagged in the business world, where big corporations can be slow to change and adopt new technologies. An MIT study, for example, found that 63% of companies are too slow to change their technology. Drones and drone software is growing rapidly but still is leveraged by just a small percentage of companies.

As drones keep proving their competitive advantage, however, that will change – which looks to us like lots of room for upside, and continued expansion.



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