2016 Trends: An Amazing Year for Commercial Drones

Industry Insights from Hendrik Boedecker and Colin Snow

DroneDeploy
Dec 20, 2016 · 4 min read

What was the biggest change you observed in the industry in 2016?

Hendrik: The increased importance of data within drone operations stands out for me in 2016. The full data value-chain (acquisition, processing, analysis and action) came to the forefront. As end-to-end commercial drone solutions became more prevalent in the marketplace, they enabled data to take a central role within commercial drone operations.

Did anything else catch your attention?

Hendrik: After the regulatory environment stabilized there was a big uptick in mergers and acquisitions, and a change in investment strategies. More acquisition activities focused on consolidation and integration, and we anticipate that this trend will soon outpace venture capital investments in the space. It is also notable that the US investment activities moved from primarily in China to Europe.

Was there anything that didn’t live up to the hype?

Colin: I think virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for drones was all hype this year. The manufactures of VR and AR glasses made a lot of noise, so I expected to see a case study showing how someone was using VR/AR with data from commercial drones, but it just didn’t happen.


Drone Ownership No Longer a Required Gateway to Drone Software

In the first half of 2016 the inbound interest in DroneDeploy’s software offering was almost entirely driven by people that already owned a drone. The second half of 2016 saw a notable shift with much more interest in drone software from businesses that didn’t yet own a drone. This group was much earlier in their exploration of the commercial drone ecosystem than those that approached DroneDeploy in the first half of 2016. This is a strong signal that awareness of the commercial drone space, while still nascent, is starting to grow beyond the early adopters.

Prioritizing Drone Software Over Drone Hardware

Not only did DroneDeploy see businesses start exploring drone software prior to purchasing a drone in 2016, but we also saw a reversal in the drone hardware and software buying process. As the year progressed, an increasing number of companies selected drone software prior to selecting their hardware. In essence, software selection began to drive hardware purchase decisions, which was not the case at the beginning of 2016. This reversal was seen more often in large businesses, but I anticipate that over time the trend will occur across companies of all sizes as more businesses recognize the value of software within the commercial drone value chain.


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DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com

DroneDeploy

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DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com