PwC launches UK drones team to help clients profit from aerial data

09 January 2018 4 min. read

PwC’s UK wing has established a team of drone specialists in Britain to help clients take advantage of the airborne technology. The professional services firm has a growing network of drone-focused facilities, including a global centre of excellence focusing on the commercial use of drone technology on the continent, as the group bid to help clients extract value from drone data.

PwC has already been undertaking client work with drones globally, largely led out of a Centre of Excellence team in Poland. The Drone Powered Solutions team was formed in 2013, and now has a team of around 50, taking advantage of the more expansive drone regulation over Poland – the first country in the world to have introduced a complete legal framework and institutions regulating the commercial use of drones. Following the recent step by the British Government to announce an upcoming drone bill, UK regulations involving the use of drones in business will make ground on Polish law, opening up a space for greater commercial use in the country.

The UK drones team will now begin work with six dedicated full-time employees to cater to the growing needs of the British drone space, with plans to scale up their staff according to demand. The team will concentrate primarily on helping clients with asset maintenance and monitoring of their drones, strategic planning for the deploying of drone solutions, and with capital projects and construction monitoring involving the technology. In addition, drone specialists will be 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 launches UK drones team to help clients profit from aerial data

Despite a controversial start to life for the technology, which initially became infamous for its military and surveillance applications, demand from consumers for rapid delivery, as well as companies seeking to use drone data to anticipate consumer demand, have seen a growing commercial appetite for drones. According to PwC’s Big Four competitors Deloitte, there were over 1 million commercial drones employed by the end of 2015. Since then, the market for the aerial machinery has continued to expand rapidly, leading Marsh analysts to predict that their market value may exceed $100 billion by 2030.

Meanwhile, PwC’s own research has 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. This is the value of current business services and labour that are likely to be replaced in the very near future by drone powered solutions. Industries with the best prospects for drone applications, such as infrastructure, agriculture and transport, will be the main focus areas for the new team.

Elaine Whyte, a former RAF engineer, who now takes office as PwC’s new UK drones leader, said, “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.”

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 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.”