Lessons From Innovators

What DroneDeploy has learned from customers

Thu Jun 20 2019 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

What happens when you bring together people with a passion for testing and implementing new technologies? You learn about innovators — how they think and how they drive change.

Earlier this month, DroneDeploy invited marquee customers in target industries to participate in our annual Customer Advisory Council (CAC). Our goal was to learn how customers used our technology, understand their challenges, and begin conceptualizing our next generation solutions.

The interactive discussions helped us achieve those goals. But we also gleaned fascinating insights about our customers themselves. One of the most compelling takeaways was summed up by our very own Anjanette Hill Mendoza, Head of Customer Experience at DroneDeploy, who said, “Do you know what’s common across everyone here today? They’re all innovators.”

How so? Many of our customers were the first or one of the first in their industries to implement drone programs and analytics software, and these specific individuals were the linchpin to getting their initiatives off the ground. What we learned from them gave us powerful insights about the nature of our customer’s mindset and innovation process. We believe these insights are valuable for any company that wants to inspire and promote innovation.

Here’s what we learned...

Innovators love to learn.

DroneDeploy has built long-standing relationships with the customers in our CAC. Almost all of them come to our offices regularly to learn about our technology roadmap and brainstorm on problems they have. But when DroneDeploy planned our CAC agenda, we built in both industry-specific and cross-industry breakouts. Although our product has common use cases across industries, we had some concern that customers may not find that commonality, inhibiting discussion in the cross-industry breakouts. But our customers were keen to learn from one another, including those from other industries. They quickly realized that despite differences in why they used DroneDeploy, they shared common methodologies and pain points. One customer in the agriculture industry even noted that conversations in multi-industry groups were often more free-flowing since they did not need to be concerned about revealing competitive information.

Innovators have a passion for continuous improvement.

A common story from our customers was their interest in finding better, more comprehensive data, or a solution that optimized their company’s workflow and safety, which led them to DroneDeploy. At one oil and gas company, public records and existing company geospatial data did not provide the information they needed for good decisions. They tried traditional surveying methods, but they were time-consuming and expensive. That led the customer to look at new technology and discovered DroneDeploy, which ultimately saved the company more than $30 million annually over traditional surveying methods.

Innovators care about business outcomes.

“It’s not just about pretty pictures,” one agricultural customer stated. For his organization, DroneDeploy’s analysis empowered employees to make decisions “at the field edge” and take more proactive management of crop issues. Time and time again, we found our customers constantly looking for ways to use DroneDeploy to improve operations, maximize ROI, and ensure employees are safe on the ground.

Innovators use technology to address customer needs.

Innovators understand customer needs and how technology helps them address those needs. One construction customer noted that his clients—the owners of buildings—fundamentally care about three things: project schedule, budget, and scope. His company leverages drones to build trust with owners by showing them real-time views of progress. He also explained that when weather impacts the schedule, drones can help smooth tension: “Showing an owner images of an excavator underwater goes a long way to explaining why a project may be stalled.”

Innovators understand the broad implications of technology.

Our customers recognize that cloud solutions like DroneDeploy can streamline data sharing and drive collaboration. That can increase accountability for all stakeholders in a project, but it can also lead to inadvertent sharing of sensitive data. That’s where DroneDeploy’s enterprise permissions, roles, and security are crucial for safeguarding data. But it also means that organizations must be proactive in balancing the risks and benefits of data sharing, and develop the appropriate policies and workflows to keep vital data safe.

Innovators know their data.

Our customers know the concrete impact of implementing DroneDeploy. One oil and gas customer knew the specific dollar amount in foregone revenue the company saved by eliminating the need for shutting down operations by leveraging DroneDeploy-driven inspections.

Innovators can profoundly impact their companies and their industries.

What started as a way to operate more safely and efficiently often blossomed into larger projects, with programs expanding organization-wide. One oil and gas customer relayed that as the drone program started to consistently demonstrate safety improvements and cost savings, his vice president challenged the team to make drones part of the corporate inspection policy. The result is a radical rethinking of the way facilities are designed. After all, facilities in this organization were designed to accommodate human inspection and intervention, requiring catwalks. With drones, these may not be needed at all for future facilities.

Concluding Thoughts

Our customers are transforming their organizations and their industries with their zest for innovation. But the path was not always easy. We are impressed with the lengths to which some customers have gone to implement our technology in their organizations. After all, enterprise leaders often resist startup technology because they deem it too risky—especially for mission-critical operations.

Many of our customers took risks professionally to push DroneDeploy well before we became the leading drone data and analytics company. We are grateful for their partnership, and we are honored to help them drive tangible value.

Over the next few months, we will highlight several of these innovators through webinars, customer success stories, and blogs. We hope to inspire more innovation and help others drive change and progress.  


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