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Are Drones in Your SMB's Future?

small business drones

A little over a year ago, California's drought drove vintners to new lengths when it came to producing a fruitful harvest, resulting in delicious wines. The Washington Post reported that these growers turned to technology to survive one of the worst droughts in the history. Many growers used drones to water their sprawling vines so that they didn't dry out. 

If this scenario proves anything, aside from wine makers' dedication to their craft, it demonstrates just how ubiquitous drones have become. Are drones taking over? Will they take off and become as common as cash-back transactions or will they fall short to meet stringent regulation that's still being sculpted? 

Amazon patents drone technology 
In May, CNN reported that Amazon patented application images delivery. In other words, the company has gotten a step closer to use drones to drop packages from the sky at the click of a button. Amazon can now officially send the devices airborne for practice runs. This would mean that if Amazon were granted permission to fully deploy this service, you wouldn't have to be home to receive your anticipated toiletries and other goods.

The pending service would deliver your purchases to you whether you're chipping away at tasks in the office or completing another mile on the treadmill at your gym. Who knows, you may even need to excuse yourself from a dinner date to pick up your package outside of the locale. The possibilities are virtually endless. 

With the patent's feature "Bring It To Me," you wouldn't even need to include an address to receive your delivery. The technology would correspond with your mobile device to obtain your exact location.

What regulations stand in the way? 
Obtaining permission from the FAA has slowed the process. CNN pointed out that many factors influence the success of this drone-to-person service. If approved, Amazon would have to abide by specific rules including requiring that drones fly at 400 feet or below during the day, remaining in sight of the operator. Plus, the operator would need to hold a private pilot's license. 

As Wired put it, Amazon's leap into drone use paves the path for other businesses across the nation that are interested in similar options. Just getting this far is considered to be a "major milestone" for Amazon. The publication predicted that the company would run into the most trouble with the rule that forbids flying over densely populated areas - many major cities would be eliminated from the list of eligible recipients. 

Signs that SMBS may adopt drones 
While it may be some time before the world sees this process through - what if drones made deliveries? A glance at the evolution of other previous technologies might indicate that this type of technology is possible for small to medium businesses. 

Here are a few examples of technologies that caught fire and spread to SMBs since deployment:

  • The cloud: Over the years, the cloud has become increasingly ubiquitous. PCWorld confirmed that 90 percent of businesses have adopted the cloud thanks to its agility, affordability and provisioning. 
  • Electronic health records: Initially a luxury of larger practices, EHRs have become so mainstream that even many private practices have deployed them. 
  • Apple pay/pay services: Even Mom and Pop shops can sync their payment systems with smartphones so that guests can be in and out with the swipe of a finger. 

The way it's always gone is larger businesses that have more resources breakthrough new technology. However, as demonstrated over the years, newer services often become so in demand that they're made affordable for everyone. Who knows, maybe someday your small business will be able to deploy drone technology.

Category: Technology

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Tags: small business, technology

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