By Andrew Maximow, Chief Drone Officer.
What does “growth in the drone industry” mean to Firmatek in 2019?
The challenge for measuring growth in the drone industry, like many nascent technologies, is identifying what to measure and how to quantify. This is especially true in the commercial/enterprise sector where the only available metrics are the number of Part-107 licenses being issued and to some degree, the number of drones being shipped. If the rate of new Part-107 licenses being issued is declining, does that mean that overall growth in the drone industry is declining? At Firmatek, we don’t believe that is the case.
While the consumer drone market is mature and possibly saturated, we believe that mass adoption for commercial/enterprise applications is still ahead of us. In 2019, there will be a gradual transition from early adopters to an early majority, at least in the industries that we support. While we experienced a major increase in Part-107 licenses, pilots, and drones in 2018, the key observation was a greater utilization of those pilots and drones in terms of frequency and demand for incremental value-added deliverables. The drones that were deployed were used more often and more creatively to collect different types of data. The consensus among our clients is, “You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it.” Thereby driving the demand for data analysis from an annual/quarterly auditing requirement to a monthly and weekly inventory management best practice. The regular use of drones for 3D mapping prompted the question, “What else can I use my drone for?” This unlocks a plethora of additional use-cases including site planning, change detection, equipment monitoring, and underground inspection, just to name a few. In 2019, we see this trend catching on with the early majority of customers driving the demand for more data analysis. This in turn will drive additional demand for pilots and drones.
How does Firmatek plan to facilitate pent up demand and drive growth in the drone industry?
Our plan is 3-fold:
1) Services-led, technology-enabled approach.
Drone technology in the commercial/enterprise sector is still in the nascent stage with new innovation in drone hardware, software, systems, and analytics being developed and introduced at a rapid pace. Early adopters and the early majority of clients will need guidance and help to implement these technologies in a meaningful way that helps solve real-world business problems.
2) Put the tools in the hands of our clients.
It is becoming easier and easier to fly missions and collect data with basic drones. Enabling clients to plan missions, fly, and collect data empowers them to fly where ever, when ever, and as often as they like. This drives frequency and the demand for more data analytics.
3) Drive incremental value-added services.
Drone manufacturers are responding to the needs of commercial/enterprise clients with new types of sensors, integrated RTK/PPK platforms, and new way of analyzing data. During 2019, Firmatek will be actively working on testing new drones, new sensors, and software in addition to the deliverables generated by 3D mapping requirements.
Firmatek will continue as a trusted advisor to its clients with service as a priority and technology as an enabler towards providing insights and building business intelligence. If we do that well and guide our clients through the complexities of the technology, the growth will come.