Kovar points out that a variety of small businesses could utilize drone services for aerial photography, inspections, mapping, and more to achieve competitive advantage.
Helios Visions, for instance, is a DSP focused mainly on aerial data collection for construction, real estate, and engineering businesses. Co-founder Ted Parisot, another member of the CompTIA Drone Advisory Council, says small construction companies that may have been using out-of-date Google Earth maps can now “have a real snapshot of what the site looks like in near real time or very close to real time. They’re able to make better planning decisions, they’re able to bid projects more accurately,” which could then help them win bids more often.
Drones are also useful to construction companies for insurance purposes, he says. “A lot of the times, they like to have us come out there just once a month for a couple hundred bucks and just get a snapshot of the [construction] site, so if anything does go wrong, or there is some sort of dispute, or insurance claim, they have documentation readily available that’s timestamped.”
The art of the possible is still often undefined for a lot of organizations.—John Vernon, Chief Technology Officer, DroneUp
Customers can access the deliverables, typically images and PDF files, via the cloud or download and import them into an AutoCAD system, for instance.
Where DSPs and MSPs Dovetail
Small businesses that need to move, process, and store the large amount of data, mostly images, that drones generate onto a server will need help “getting that server appropriately sized and then supported, and making sure it’s backed up properly,” Kovar says, adding that’s typically not the skill set of drone service providers.
Security is an issue as well. Drones operate in the physical world, outside the office. DSPs must understand the type of data their drones collect, how it’s collected, and how it’s stored, as well as “how that data gets from that outside environment back into the corporate environment, how to secure that data as it makes that transition, and then also how to make sure that data exchange doesn’t create any sort of new forms of potential cybersecurity attacks upon the company,” Kovar says.
Jason Nichols, director of product marketing at DSP Kespry, says his firm often works directly with IT departments to meet specific requirements around where data is housed, who can access it, and how it is integrated.
Vernon sees ample opportunity for MSPs to partner with DSPs. Doing so, he adds, is far more practical than getting up to speed on the core expertise required to be a DSP, which includes understanding field service and dispatch delivery, knowing how to select the right type of drone and sensor, understanding airspace and industry regulations, and either obtaining an FAA operator’s license or contracting with pilots.
One area MSPs could play a role is customer acquisition, since “they’re already out there talking to these organizations day in and day out,” Vernon says. During a quarterly business review, for instance, the MSP could provide information about business problems drones could help address, and make recommendations on which DSPs to leverage. “This creates an opportunity for MSPs to create an additional value add, and another stickiness factor,” Vernon notes.