Karim Cosslett / July 28, 2020

3 golden rules for starting a drone programme in your business

Karim Cosslett By Karim Cosslett

What’s all the buzz around drones?

No, I’m not talking about male bees, I am of course talking about Unmanned Aircraft, specifically small, commercialised drones, that everyone keeps talking about!

I’ve worked in the UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems, or ‘drones’) industry for many years and I’ve recently witnessed a shift towards an increasing number of businesses and organisations considering whether to start their own drone programmes, but getting stuck.

There’s a wealth of evidence supporting drones as an excellent tool for data collection, and it’s widely reported that their uses are expected to grow exponentially as drones become a ubiquitous sight in our skies.

Ultimately, drones are simply another tool to achieve a result. They might not be the right solution for every business, so I’m going to cover three straightforward rules that I believe organisations should follow to assess viability of the adoption of drones:

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Rule 1: An honest business case for you

Please, never buy a drone or start a drone programme just because one of your staff ‘thinks’ it’s a good idea (or because it’s their weekend hobby or they want you to pay for their training).

This may sound counter intuitive coming from me, a guy that has worked to promote the drone industry for many years, but honestly, delving straight in without knowing the CAPEX, OPEX/REVEX, ROI, or risk offset is asking for trouble.

There are plenty of examples online of business cases, and large organisations will have their own justification processes; just make sure yours is nailed down before progressing to a stage where you’re committed.

Cover the basics at least, which fundamentally are:

  • “What problem am I trying to solve?”
  • “Will drones offer me the data I need?”
  • “What are the risks and costs involved in operating a drone programme?”
  • “How much could we save in time, risk, effort and money?”

This requires cross-functional support from across your organisation to collect as many use-cases as possible. Analyse your current methods, time spent, effort, costs and risks against those of utilising drone technologies to accomplish at least the same output; or a blend of both to accomplish your requirements.

My advice is to always follow the data to qualify and quantify the value proposition for your organisation or business.

Rule 2: Prove the Concept

So, you’ve followed Rule 1 and it makes sense to explore this further.

The next rule is to allocate a small budget to prove the business case. Pick a straightforward use-case (or two) and do it. Prove the use of drones can save you time, reduce risk and offer value to you. Having it articulated in a business case is great, but proving it in the real world is better!

The team at SOARIZON by Thales works with people just like you to help shape the data requirement (sensors, aircraft, etc), compliance management (Regulatory and organisational process) and delivery structures (people, training, equipment management) to get your drone programme off the ground.

Rule 3: Don’t Fear the Unknown

In the words of the American author Teal Swan: “We do not fear the unknown. We fear what we think we know about the unknown.”

I believe this quote surmises certain decision making around the instigation or growth of drone programmes globally. Senior management fear the perceived risks, lack of clarity on cost, are unclear on the opportunities to save, or make, money and are happy to sustain the status quo because ‘it’s always been done this way’.

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I would challenge these leaders to examine the data surrounding drone technology. Drones can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent human team or manned aircraft.

Though there will always be risks inherent in flying anything, in many cases the use of drones often represents a far stronger safety case than the same difficult and dangerous work undertaken by humans – most notably in inspection use cases, which can save businesses and local authorities millions per year.

Summary: the right drone programme for the right reasons.

Drones are great. They offer insights that are otherwise difficult to accomplish, as well as offering the opportunity to offset risk, reduce costs, increase efficiency and save money. But they aren’t right for everyone, or in all circumstances, so use these three rules to confirm if drones are right for you.

Here at SOARIZON, we are a passionate team of UAS experts. We can help organisations put drone programmes in place and provide digital solutions to take care of the administrative and regulatory burden.

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