Commercial drones have emerged as a key technology for enterprises in many industries. In 2017, we will see these enterprises begin training their own workforces with drone technology. The enterprises that get this right will find themselves with a competitive advantage in their industries.
The idea of “Drone Operator” as an emerging career path has gained momentum in recent years, thanks to the increasing popularity of hobbyist drones and to the growing use of drone technology for commercial applications. Multiple companies have been founded with the mission to offer general drone piloting and data gathering services.
Similarly, when photography, computers, and GPS were new technologies, they were only operable by technology specialists. Once the applications for these technologies were proven, demand for them grew, and advancements in usability accelerated. The technical prowess required to operate these technologies was abstracted.
The same is happening now with commercial drones. Advances in technology have enabled simple cloud-based operations planning and automated flight. Piloting skills are no longer required to operate a drone.
This means drones can now be integrated seamlessly into the workflow of an enterprise’s existing workforce as part of their toolkit. The adjuster who uses the results of a rooftop inspection to settle a claim, or the geologist who uses an aerial survey to measure a quarry’s production, can both be trained to operate the drone themselves. The collection and analysis of aerial data will be just the first step in their workday. There will be no need to bring a pilot on site.
Forward-thinking enterprises spent 2016 testing commercial drone technology. They’ll spend 2017 taking the lessons learned in those tests and using them to roll the technology out to entire business units, using the workforce they already employ.