Our Drone Industry Barometer provides the latest understanding of what drone professionals are going through and where the drone community might be headed. Much like the recently-delivered it is often a good idea for a community to come together in order to see what every member is doing and how all members can support each other for the good of the industry. And that is where the Drone Industry Barometer comes in. According to the Cambridge dictionary, a barometer “can show how a particular situation is developing, or how people’s opinions on a particular matter are changing” and that is what our global drone survey does. So here are some of the key lessons from the 2021 edition.
As with every year, the Drone Industry Barometer 2021 had responses from all around the globe. There were 678 responses from 64 countries, with a strong representation by Asian markets. More importantly, the top 4 countries in terms of responses correspond with the top 4 markets in our Drone Market Report. Other countries in the top ten global market (e.g. India, South Korea, and the UK) were also in the top 10 of respondents for the Barometer, so we are confident the data is as representative as ever.
In order to achieve a global outreach and promote participation by drone companies, the drone survey was assisted by our partners that include drone associations in China, Czech Republic, Greece, Japan, and Taiwan among others as well as drone publications in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the US, just to name a few. So we are excited to see that our survey is able to reach all corners of the global drone community.
This year saw a few “firsts” in terms of drone applications. The pandemic brought drone service providers (DSPs) a lot of increased media exposure, which is why “deliveries” reached almost 10% of DSP services for the first time. As another first, this year’s participants in the Barometer were more involved with inspections, which has trailed behind mapping & surveying as the second-most common application method in our Drone Application Report.
For those of us in the industry, there’s a plethora of obvious reasons to adopt drones into business, and it might be hard to choose just one. This year’s respondents ranked “improving quality” higher than “saving time” for the first time, so now that companies have a better understanding of the benefits of commercial drones, they are not only concerned with doing the job faster but also with doing it better thanks to drone technology.
Although it continues to make plenty of headlines, this year’s respondents had a much less negative view on the pandemic and a more optimistic outlook on its long-term effects. The done community expressed less downsizing, a lower level of “decrease in demand”, and a higher “increase in demand”. In other words, less of the bad and more of the good. And this is what brings us to the issue of expectations.
Our drone survey also asked participants to rate their experience of the past year and their expectations for the coming year on a scale from 1 to 10. Each year, we compare the results from the previous year in order to see how expectations matched with reality. And while it is common for expectations to be higher than reality (even outside the drone space), our Barometer has seen the two issues converge more and more every year, so that expectations and reality get closer and closer.
This is often a sign of a maturing industry, and a good sign for the future of new technologies. It means there is less unrealistic hype and more realistic expectations. And one interesting result from this year’s survey is that the expectations for the next 12 months are nevertheless as high as ever. So, it seems that the drone community found a way to take hardship and turn it into opportunity.
As the New York Times wrote in mid-2020 ”Drones were ready for this moment”. The past two years have brought a lot of unexpected negatives and positives for the drone industry, yet the positives have started outweighing the negatives. Our last two barometers show that drone technology and drone companies learned how to adapt in order to survive and thrive.
The Drone Industry Barometer provides a yearly review of what professional drone users across the world have experienced and how they foresee the industry will develop. It touches on the latest topics while providing continuity with previous editions in order to deliver the most comprehensive understanding of the state of the drone industry. Our 2021 drone survey shows a lot of promise in the coming years for the drone community, so we are excited to deliver the results and eager to see what the coming year brings. Thank you to all who participated, and we will be in touch again in mid-2022.
Ed Alvarado holds a Master’s in International Relations, Bachelor’s in Economics & Philosophy, and has lived in 7 countries.