PwC has launched a specialist unit for commercial drone operations in the UK. The move follows the successful setup of the Drone Powered Solutions center in Poland last year.
With the global market for drone-enabled business services valued by PwC at over $127bn, the consultancy giant has set up a UK team of specialists to expand its reach in the industry.
PwC wants drones to become ‘business as usual’
Last year, PwC’s Clarity from Above report highlighted the disruptive potential drones hold in industries from agriculture to construction. Operations and services in these sectors will be the areas of focus for the new team.
PwC’s UK drone team will launch with six employees and specialists embedded in each of PwC’s main areas of expertise – assurance, tax, deals and consulting – on top of covering specific market sectors such as power and utilities, national security and construction.
According to a statement from the company, the UK arm of the consultancy has over 2,100 technologists and “aims for drone data to become a ‘business as usual’ part of the insight it delivers to clients.”
Accordingly, PwC will offer consultancy services on how drones can be used in asset maintenance and monitoring, capital projects and construction, while providing support for companies wishing to deploy drone solutions.
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.”
“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, said, “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 cybersecurity 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.”
UK open to drone technology
PwC’s first step into the commercial drone industry was in Poland, where a 50-strong Drone Powered Solutions team now works from a dedicated Center of Excellence. The decision to set up there was no coincidence. Poland has had comprehensive regulations regarding commercial drone flights for some time now, long before similar legislation was put in place elsewhere.
Although the landscape of drone regulations continues to evolve in the UK, the government has publicly supported ambitious projects involving the technology. Amazon is currently testing Prime Air in Cambridge, England – a move across the Atlantic thought to be encouraged by the UK’s pro-business approach.
In a recent statement to Parliament, a minister from the Department for Transport said, “As the government’s industrial strategy sets out, we have the potential to cement our status as the leading location where technology companies want to build their businesses, where scientists and engineers drive innovation and where investors want to invest. Drones are an important part of this emerging industry.”
PwC’s Elaine Whyte agrees that the UK’s regulatory landscape is moving in the right direction. “For UK organisations to really take advantage of this disruptive technology it’s vital we have the right standards and regulation in place,” she said.
“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.”