Retailers like Amazon and other major tech giants like Google and Facebook have invested hundreds of millions in drone technology. The motivation behind investments seems to be slightly different. Amazon will likely want drones to deliver packages within hours of orders being placed; Facebook may use its drones to make internet available in remote areas of the world. Google may use them to deliver products ordered through Shopping Express and also use them for making internet available along with its balloons.

Logistics giants DHL, FedEx and UPS are experimenting with drones for delivery. On top of that there are law enforcement departments that will be buying drones for surveillance. Recreational use of drones for purposes such as hunting is also being explored. FAA estimates 10,000 drones in US airspace by 2017.

No matter what the motivation may be, one thing's for sure that popular use of drones for various purposes is becoming a reality in the near future.

As more and more companies start deploying hordes of drones for various purposes, they will be handling enormous amount of data generated by these machines. Data streams such as battery status, locational data, delivery confirmation, video streams, engine health, environmental data and several other types of data will be sent back to control tower. This data will in turn be used to give customers update via push notifications, SMS, emails etc. They can open up a plethora of exciting use cases:

  • Buy online and get it delivered via drone in 20 minutes
  • Check status of your delivery drone online (or mobile)
  • Try out new purchases and return if do not like (while drone waits)
  • Farm fresh food -delivered via drone right from the farm
  • Deliver time critical medical devices (or harvested organs) bypassing airport delays

To enable these use cases, Integration platforms will need to evolve to handle drone data and treat them like any other application. Integration with drone management systems might become a mainstream requirement in next 5 years. Shippers might soon be switching to generating drone manifests and ERPs might be exchanging information with Drone servers via Integration layer. ITs might need to establish a drone center of excellence to manage and control drone applications.

Both B2B and B2C uses of drones will require integration of different types of data streams and integration will become the key in making commercial drone programs successful.

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