For that question, we turn to Ian Smith, Business Development Lead at Drone Deploy and founder, CEO and Host of the successful Commercial Drones FM Podcast. Ian was a guest on the Drone Radio Show more than 2 years ago, and he talked about finding ROI through drone services. A lot has changed in the drone industry since that interview interview, and its time for an update. In this episode, Ian talks about Drone Deploy’s current products and services, how the drone industry has changed in the past two years and he shares what it’s been like to producing his incredibly successful podcast on the drone industry.
In This Episode
- Introduction. Ian Smith is Business Development Lead at Drone Deploy and founder, CEO and Host of the successful Commercial Drones FM Podcast. Drone Deploy is a software company specializing in mobile apps and browser based software that support autonomous drone mapping and data analysis application. Ian shares some of the applications of the software and how simply it can be used.
- Drone Deploy Today. Ian talks about how Drone Deploy has evolved into a provider of sophisticated machine learning software applications for the drone industry. Its current offerings include, “Live Map”, an application that delivers real time mapping to the user. Users are able to get data immediately, without a laptop or internet. The company also opened its API to developers to connect the company to third party apps or services. Today, Drone Deploy has 75 apps based off of its API with companies like Airmap, Autodesk, Skyward, and Drone Logbook, to name a few.
- Key Industries. Ian talks about some of the industries that seem to be taking advantage of the Drone Deploy’s software today, including construction, roof inspections and the insurance industry. Competition for clients in the drone industry has steadily increase and Ian points out that today, companies are bumping up against each other in certain markets, By leveraging the partnerships created via Drone Deploy’s ecosystem and API app development, the company hopes to maintain leadership in a variety of markets.
- Revisiting ROI. When Ian first appeared on the Drone Radio Show in 2016, we talked about the potential ROI that be achieved through drone services. Today, ROI is so accepted so much that he doesn’t even think about it anymore. Companies are moving to the next level with their programs, scaling operations to meet their needs. Drone operations are appearing as specific line item in budgets as programs find wide scale adoption.
- Advice to Drone Operators. Ian gives some advice to commercial drone operators on growing in the industry, by staying up on industry news, following stories on Twitter, reading key industry publications and websites, listening to podcasts, specializing in an area that they enjoy and seeking ways to separate themselves from other drone operators (like getting drone waivers or advanced training).
- Commercial Drones FM Podcast. Ian’s appearance on the Drone Radio Show in 2016 gave him the idea to create his own podcast focusing on the commercial aspects of the drone industry. He has produced nearly 70 shows, and his podcast is considered one of the industry’s best sources of information. What Ian enjoys most about doing the podcast is connecting with so many people that are driving the industry and learning from their successes, challenges and experience. There’s also a huge satisfaction in sharing the stories of these individuals and their companies with the world. The podcast has opened other opportunities for Ian to connect with industry professionals, such as preparing a quarterly analysis of the drone industry and hosting a live event in San Francisco.
- Perspectives. According to Ian, the last few years have been challenging for the commercial drone industry, but he sees more automation and embedded technology that will really push the industry into new directions. Instead of just gathering data, drones will be able to assess a problem, evaluation options and actually fix the problem.
- Surprises. DJI’s dominance of the industry has not been a surprise, but what has been a surprise, according to Ian, is that so many other companies are not taking a cue from DJI and opening their API to third parties. DJI and Drone Deploy have shown that by opening their APIs to developers, they are able to expand their core business into other ecoysystems.
- Closing. Ian encourages drone operators to continue growing in the field. As for Drone Deploy, the company will continue to invest in machine learning and autonomous applications. Ian will continue to focus his podcast on the needs and interests of the commercial drone industry, seeking ways to tell great stories and providing value to his listeners.