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. PwC’s ‘Clarity From Above’ report found that 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 $127 billion globally. Industries with the best prospects for drone applications, such as infrastructure, agriculture and transport, will all be key focus areas for the new team.
The UK drones team will begin its tasks with six dedicated full-time employees in place, although there are plans to scale up that cohort. In addition, there are specialists embedded in each of PwC’s main business areas – namely assurance, tax, deals and consulting – as well as in particular sectors, such as power and the utilities, national security and construction. The UK firm has more than 2,100 technologists on its books and aims for drone data to become a ‘business as usual’ part of the insight it delivers to clients on a continual basis.
Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, informed Risk UK: “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.”
Whyte continued: “The majority of organisations are still using drone data at project stage, rather than embedding the technology into their strategy. I firmly believe we’ll see drones becoming part of ‘business as usual’ within the next ten years. We’re already witnessing 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.”
In addition, Whyte stated: “For UK organisations to really take advantage of this disruptive technology, it’s vital that we have the right standards and regulation in place. The recent move 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.”
Managing costs, controlling risks
Drones can help capture information from a new angle, gathering data quickly from hard-to-reach places with accuracy down to a few centimetres. They can make a crucial difference to clients in managing costs, controlling risks and improving safety. This offers businesses a powerful new perspective and a competitive edge.
The team at PwC will apply data analytics and machine learning techniques to the raw data collected by drones. This will be integrated with existing management information systems in order 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 in three main 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, added: “Technology is central to our strategy. By combining our business understanding and services with investment in emerging technology, we’re developing innovative new ways in which to support our clients. Our drones team is the latest example of how we’re actively helping clients when it comes to embracing and responding to disruptive trends. The combination of our expertise in cyber security and data analytics with the drones team’s insight is at the very 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 operating in Poland. The Drones-Powered Solutions team was formed over four years ago and now has a cohort of around 50, taking advantage of the more expansive drone regulation over Poland.