As we enter a new decade, there’s been mixed signals about the potential for drones. In August 2019, Bloomberg ran an article with the headline, “Drone Bubble Bursts, Wiping Out Companies and Hammering VCs.” Less than three months later, CNBC ran a video story with the headline “Drones are growing into a $100 billion industry.”
It begs the question: are drones and drone software truly here to stay?
We set out to answer that question by surveying our customers about the benefits of drones, how they are using this promising technology, and how they plan to use this technology in the years to come. We surveyed more than 140 customers across 10+ industries to reveal the quantifiable benefits from this technology and what the future holds in regard to drone adoption.
Based on our survey and customer experience, we found that businesses do not adopt new technology as rapidly as consumers. Companies take deliberate steps to ensure technology is secure, that it will bring quantifiable ROI, and that it will be adopted easily by employees. But consumers aren’t the main opportunity for drone businesses: the CNBC piece reports that the consumer sector will make up just 17% of the drone market in 2020. Rather, the untapped potential for drones lies beyond hardware, hype, and the consumer sector. Businesses, more than ever, are finding value in drone software and in the data generated by the software.
From the survey results, the answer was clear: businesses know they are just scratching the surface when it comes to the potential of drones and drone software. Drones are not just here to stay, they’re poised for rapid scale and growth in 2020 -- and the decade ahead.
The Future of Drones for Business
- 92% of respondents said they expect drones to become more common in their industry by 2020.
- Specifically, when asked to look ahead two years from now and cite how common do you think drones will become in your industry over half (54%) noted “much more common”, a quarter (25%) noted “ubiquitous, present everywhere,” and 14% noted “somewhat more common.”
- 90% of respondents expect to increase or maintain their spend on drones / drone software in 2020. Over half (53%) expect to increase and 37% expect to spend the same amount. Almost a quarter (23.3%) of respondents expect that spend to grow by more than 50%. Only 5% thought it would decline.
We’ve seen customers who made small or experimental investments in drone technology answer that they intend on expanding their capabilities. Even those who don’t anticipate increasing their spend reveal a solid baseline of retention. This confirms our underlying theory that drones are an extremely reliable generator of long term ROI.
- Mike Winn, CEO, DroneDeploy
How Are Businesses Using Drones?
- Protection against risks of all kinds drives 69% of use cases, including increased safety (29%), risk management (21%), and compliance (19%)
“It’s certainly heartening to know that a majority of our clients are using drones for purposes of safety — whether it be from compliance errors or personal harm,” said Winn. “The safety and well-being of workers is something occasionally lost in the automation debate.”
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they use drones to “improve operations” and “increase productivity”.
- In fact, the top three motivators for investing in drones were desires for increased productivity (68%), improved operations (66%), and reduced cost (56%).
- Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents could not fit their use case neatly into one of the many categories and noted “other.”
From conservation efforts in Africa to surveying the Great Barrier Reef, we’re constantly blown away by the imagination of our customers who use our products in new and innovative ways. The industry has a long way to go in discovering all of the potential applications for drones, and we’re happy to be a part of that evolution.
- Mike Winn, CEO, DroneDeploy
The Benefits of Using Drones
- Customers of DroneDeploy noted the top three benefits were innovation (59%), increased efficiency/speed (57%), and cost-effectiveness (50%).
- Benefits following closely behind were competitive advantage (44%), improved customer relationships (35%), and safety (25%).
“We work across a variety of industries like energy, mining, construction, and agriculture with varied use cases, but the benefits for our customers are vast -- from safety all the way to attracting new, tech-savvy talent,” said Winn. “While benefits are often immediately tangible, there are less obvious ways that businesses leverage drone software.”
Drones & Digital Disruption
Our customers are in industries that are undergoing digital disruption in order to gain greater efficiencies and competitive advantage. As you can see from the results, they understand that they are only beginning to tap into the benefits that drones for business can bring. We have always known that drone software can truly impact a company's ability to collaborate, document work, and make smarter, data-based decisions and we’re excited for businesses everywhere to take to the open skies.
Methodology: DroneDeploy conducted the survey in December 2019 via an online survey form to its active customers from a sample of over 145 companies across 10+ industries in English. Respondents are paying members of DroneDeploy’s leading drone data platform.