Business services giant PwC has established a team of drone specialists in the UK to help clients take advantage of this emerging technology and extract value from drone data.
The UK drones team will start with six dedicated full-time employees with plans to scale this up. In addition, there are specialists embedded in each of PwC’s main business areas – assurance, tax, deals and consulting – as well as in particular sectors, such as power and utilities, national security and construction.
The UK firm has more than 2,100 technologists and aims for drone data to become a ‘business as usual’ part of the insight it delivers to clients.
PwC carried out a report last year that found drones have the potential to disrupt a variety of industries, estimating the market for current business services and labour that could be done by drones at over $127bn (£94bn) globally. Industries with the best prospects for drone applications, such as infrastructure, agriculture and transport, will be focus areas for the new team.
Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, said: “We’re excited by the potential this technology has to offer, and foresee significant market growth in the coming years. Having spent 20 years as an engineer in the RAF, I have seen first-hand the benefits that an aerial view can bring in terms of situational awareness and added insight.
“The majority of organisations are still using drone data at project stage, rather than embedding the technology into their strategy. I believe we’ll see drones becoming part of business as usual within the next ten years. We’re already seeing early adopters in large-scale capital projects using drone data to enhance insight into their investments, allowing for better control of building sites and creating that definitive golden record of information.”
Mrs Whyte said that UK organisations to really take advantage of this disruptive technology it’s vital that the right standards and regulation are in place.
“The recent step by the government to announce the upcoming drone bill is positive and we’ll work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport to continue to help provide input as standards develop.”
The new team will apply data analytics and machine learning techniques to the raw data collected by drones. This will be integrated with existing management information systems to provide comprehensive insights back to clients, for example, those with real estate portfolios, landscapes for development or large structures requiring maintenance monitoring.
The team will primarily assist clients with three areas: asset maintenance and monitoring; capital projects and construction monitoring; and strategic planning for deploying drone solutions across an organisation.
Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment at PwC, said: “Technology is central to our strategy. By combining our business understanding and services with investment in emerging technology, we are developing innovative new ways to support our clients. Our drones team is the latest example of how we are helping clients embrace and respond to disruptive trends. The combination of our expertise in cyber security and data analytics with the drones team’s insight is at the heart of how we will help businesses unlock the full potential of drones for their future success.”
PwC is already undertaking client work with drones, largely led out of a Centre of Excellence team in Poland. The Drone Powered Solutions team was formed over four years ago and now has a team of around 50, taking advantage of the more expansive drone regulation over Poland.