Are Drones The Answer?

In the late 1970s, Ken Olson, co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, had very different predictions for the future of computers. Mr. Gates gave his new company the mission of “every desk, every home” while Mr. Olson said there was no reason for a home to ever have a computer.

How could two leaders of the early computer hardware and software industries see the future so differently?

The art of the possible is indeed an art, not a science. While science may well be the enabling factor, it is a different thinking process to envision possibility.

Drones are not brand new. The underlying technologies of drones have rapidly advanced as enclosed and tight spaces coupled with long distance and larger payloads have made the possibilities economically significant.

We hear about drones being a lower cost option for the last mile as we see them mapping power company right-of-ways and blowing up buildings in real war. IKEA uses 100s of drones in its European operations, many to record inventory during off-hours.

Your manufacturing or distribution company can no doubt leverage drone technologies; the question is “should it?” Is your view of the potential of drones more Bill Gates or more Ken Olson?

Unless you are in the drone business, it’s not your job to envision all the possibilities drones offer. It is your job to assess internal and supply chain work and understand where automation could improve safety, speed, quality or cost. Drones are simply one technology.

To prod your imagination, it is time well spent to read business articles on how various organizations are using technology. Drones are no longer toys, nor is virtual or augmented reality. They can reduce or eliminate key challenges for you.

The possibilities are endless. Current drone technologies may offer amazing improvement to your business operations. Or not.

Always lead with the business question, not with the technology answer.

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