At Software Advice, we refer to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as those with $100M or less in annual revenue. While drones are increasingly being used in the enterprise space, we haven’t seen the same rate of adoption among small construction firms. Can the argument be made that the return is worth the investment for small businesses?
Most of the small construction firms we speak with are currently managing their business with spreadsheets or manual methods. In fact, in our last construction software buyer report, roughly 75 percent were looking to purchase their first automated construction solution.
What does this mean in the context of drone technology? Well, if small construction firms are slow to adopt tools integral to their business, they are sure to be equally slow to adopt new technology designed to supplement their existing business software.
So again, how feasible is this tech for small construction firms, especially those who may be using their first automated solution? This is the question we answered in our recent article, “Why Your SMB Should Be Using Drones in Construction”.
In it, we outline the ways SMBs can look to implement drone technology at their firm. Most commonly:
- Owning their own drone, employing or renting a licensed pilot and purchasing drone software compatible with their existing construction system; or,
- Outsourcing drone services to a third-party service provider. The provider manages everything, including owning the drone, pilot training and licensing, FAA regulations, mission planning and execution as well as data analysis. They provide clients with the data and deliverables gathered from the flight.
The provision of data analysis is what caught our eye when researching this article.
If service providers can offer small firms not just the data from the drone flight, which would then require specialized tools to view and process, but offer them actionable deliverables in a useable format from the data acquired during the flight, they can essentially sidestep the requirement for clients to be using construction software.
This puts drone technology squarely into the hands of small firms, without costing them the overhead from the hardware, software and FAA pilot regulations.
Of course, the ability for the service provider’s deliverables to integrate with construction software is a huge bonus, especially since, despite being slow to adopt automated tools, most growing firms will eventually require them. And the affordability of full-service missions will need to be considered as well.
Which is why we chose to highlight drone services provided by Uplift Data Partners in our article. We were happy to learn that Uplift is currently working on integrations with leading construction software vendors and missions start as low as $350.
We recommend that small firms interested in implementing drone technology ask vendors to help them build out proof-of-purchase use cases so they can evaluate the impact that drone data might have on their operations. This can help them decide if the return is worth the investment.
However, in our opinion, small construction firms that adopt drone technology will benefit in a myriad of ways, including the ability to provide more accurate bids thus helping them win more jobs, mitigating risks and limiting project delays as well as improving the safety of job sites.
In short: Drone technology is not just a pipedream for SMBs. It’s attainable, valuable and only improving over time. Small firms that take advantage of this technology now will gain a competitive advantage over their peers who wait.
- Eileen O’Loughlin, market researcher for Software Advice
Note: This additional commentary is a follow-up from O'Loughlin's article 'Why Your SMB Should Use Drones in Construction'