Last year was indeed quite a surprise. Overall, the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation that was going on already. Today, many business models are being rethought, some of them with high potential. We do not expect an extended recession, but a steady recovery, which will bring in new styles of working and living.
Stress on sustainability
Going forward, governments will have to invest heavily in certain sectors, which will otherwise not be able to get back on their feet. The focus could be, and should be, on the development of sustainable, climate-friendly technologies, as well as on reducing the risks associated with supply chains to ensure availability of critical goods at all times. I expect construction and (green) energy to drive us forward, and a general trend towards a healthier relationship with our planet.
Digital transformation yielding benefits
Digital transformation has become more important than ever. This is what we saw during the lockdowns, which made people, businesses and society as a whole realize that fewer physical interactions and travels, and more remote collaboration, were not so difficult. For many industries, this opened up the opportunity to utilize advanced tools to collect, share, collaborate on, and manage geospatial data. A continuous 3D scan or multispectral data of a construction site, valuable assets like bridges or telecom towers, or agricultural fields provides an up-to-date status report that can be shared worldwide. This allows for optimized operational processes with much less physical interaction. Working with geospatial solutions effectively plays an important role in all of these examples, and I believe it is a role that will continue to grow in the future.
Machines with human brains
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are important tools to carry cameras and sensors. Their connectivity is making them flexible IoT devices that provide valuable data for various applications. The technology is relatively well-developed and understood. A disruption that I can see is one that will come from widespread use with dedicated end-user applications. Regulations are being put in place to remove human operators and allow fully autonomous missions from hangar stations. This will require an adaptation from drone flying companies and may also have an impact on software. Many more industries will adopt this technology if the existing data from imaging or other sensors can be turned automatically into valuable information and analytics. Even with limited sensor data, humans can make better decisions and analyze situations that machines can’t. It’s the power of the human brain that is missing in machines today. Developing this will solve the needs of more industries.
Drones boost for agriculture
Agriculture has many challenges. One is food security, but there are several other concerns around sustainability. Both drones and drone applications are one of the toolsets available to address these challenges. Variable fertilizer rate applications, where multispectral data from drones are used to increase yield while saving fertilizers is one example of how drones can help. Drones can also assist in planning and carrying out targeted treatments, which increases the yields whilst saving resources and having less of an environmental impact.