By any measure, enterprise adoption of drone technology is on the rise. The rapid growth of drone programs in vertical markets from law enforcement and emergency services to construction and insurance has led to a corresponding growth in enterprise drone operations solutions – resulting in a sometimes bewildering set of options.
Enterprise departments looking for an end-to-end drone solution have two basic choices: a single-provider, vertically integrated solution that includes everything from the drone to the data; or a best-of-breed solution that allows for choice of drone, operations platform, and data analysis.
Amit Ganjoo, the founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies (ANRA) and a leading industry voice, says that a best-of-breed approach can provide the flexibility that enterprise customers need – without sacrificing ease of use. “Best-of-breed doesn’t have to mean ‘cobbled together,'” says Ganjoo. “A robust operational platform/framework provides clean integration and data sharing throughout the organization.”
Choosing best-of-breed hardware and software may require more research up front, but offers a number of advantages.
One of the easiest to evaluate points in favor of a best-of-breed solution is cost. Individual hardware and software solutions are most often less expensive than one end-to-end enterprise solution. Using independent hardware, operations platforms and data analytics solutions also allows companies to choose a “right-sized” solution: paying for capabilities their program requires, but not those that they won’t use.
“Drone programs aren’t ‘one size fits all,'” points out Ganjoo. “Different verticals and applications have very different needs when it comes to hardware and analytics – some more expensive, and some far less.”
The ability to customize a solution for a specific enterprise is also a big advantage for the enterprise. Companies can vary hardware types based on utilization, analytics solutions based on application, and keep track of it all in one place with a robust drone operations platform. ANRA’s DroneOSS platform, for example, offers customers flight planning, command and control, fleet management, data analytics, cloud storage and data sharing from one interface: but allows customers to determine their own hardware and analytics providers. DroneOSS can also integrate with existing enterprise systems, like SalesForce or SAP; or any in-house, home-grown asset management system.
A best-of-breed approach by definition allows developers to focus on one product: hardware, operations platform, or analytics software. “Hardware can be challenging,” says Ganjoo. “And not every vertical or application needs the same aircraft.” Software, which has to keep up with regulations and changes in in technology standards, is just as difficult. Companies focused on one or two aspects of the industry have the bandwidth to develop deeper solutions, faster.
Enterprises tied to a single provider may find that provider unable to expand fast enough to meet their needs. As more internal customers within an enterprise utilize the data that drone technology provides, drone solutions need to be able to scale easily and effectively throughout the organization. Scaling up may require new types of hardware, additional analytics capabilities and new integrations. A best-of-breed approach can offer flexibility and elasticity – allowing solutions to expand where needed to keep up with growth, without necessarily changing workflow or user interface dramatically.
“There are a lot of choices available in the market now, but enterprises and service providers need to look closely at the options,” says Ganjoo. “Choosing a closed platform could limit your options to expand in the future – and may not give you the best scalable solution.”
Establishing an enterprise drone program is a big job – and it isn’t one companies will want to do more than once. Choosing a best-of-breed approach could help ensure that your solution evolves with your drone program.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com