Drones have been a popular Christmas present for a few years, but more and more, the same drone you may have received from Santa is the same one you could be receiving from a supervisor at work. In a similar way that iPhones and iPads were first popular gifts and then became vital tools for work, drones are now being used in fields like insurance, construction, utilities, and media.

The drone, in many enterprise settings, is becoming less of an aircraft and more of a tool. Thanks to an ecosystem of third party drone applications and software, flying a drone is more accessible than ever. As drones become cheaper and easier to fly, it is easier to get them into the hands of more employees. Most importantly, drones are replacing tasks that are dangerous for people. Insurance adjusters don’t have to climb on roofs to inspect damage. Utility workers can avoid risking contact with power lines.

As drones proliferate, many enterprise jobs involving drones have created new opportunities for career growth and learning new skills. For the past few years, the drone has been the primary tool for many operators – the valuable skill and knowledge that they possessed was that they could safely and knowledgeable fly the drone and generate insightful data. Part 107 certification training is becoming more and more popular as a result.

Trends

1. Enterprise drone programs are using more popular mass-market drones and fewer custom-built solutions.

More and more enterprise drone programs are purchasing popular consumer and prosumer drones for because it is more efficient to scale operations if you use popular drone models. Operational familiarity, availability of spare parts and maintenance programs, ease of replacement, and premium features moving down-market are all benefits of adopting off-the-shelf drones.

You will have fun with a drone over the holidays, but you’ll also start honing your drone piloting skills and educating yourself on how to operate it, where you can fly it, and what it can do. DJI drones are the most popular, but learning how to navigate nearly any major drone platform or software would be helpful to familiarize yourself with their operation.

2. Enterprise drone programs are putting drones in the hands of more employees and integrating them more into the company’s normal workflow.

The drone is becoming a proven tool in the toolbox of professional workers in the field whose primary role is not flying a drone – rather than an aircraft demanding exceptional knowledge, training, or aviation skills.

We are seeing a split in the market for those involved in commercial drone operations. On one side, increasingly sophisticated missions involving mapping, infrastructure, and other uses requiring advanced knowledge and skill. These are the subject matter experts and drone professionals.

On the other side, we see increasingly high-volume missions being flown by professionals in certain industries where their drone is just another tool to make their job easier, safer, and more efficient. If you work in media, insurance, construction, property development, and countless other industries, you could very likely be using a drone or the data captured by drone in your job next year.

3. More workers can generate value from drone operations because great features have become standard on moderately priced drones.

Flying a drone has become significantly easier, safer, and more accessible. The price point at which features and tech capabilities are offered has fallen significantly in the past few years. Excellent camera quality, better signal strength between drone and controller, collision avoidance capability, and on-board accessories are only some of the features that are now widely available on drones no more expensive than an iPhone.

I got a drone for the holidays, what do I do?

Congratulations on your new drone!
Register your drone with the FAA. Go to faadronezone.faa.gov or https://www.faa.gov/uas/, learn the basics, and register your drone for $5.
Keep in mind the basic rules: Don’t fly your drone near airports/heliports or aircraft, fly below 400 feet, fly within your line of sight, and don’t fly over people or sensitive areas like stadiums or power plants.
Don’t fly beyond your comfort level, be cautious, and be aware of your surroundings.