Forget the Apple Watch, Think Drones In The Enterprise

Yesterday we heard about the Apple Watch and I wrote an article suggesting the Watch will drive wearables in the enterprise. But just to show how fast the technology news cycle moves, today at TechCrunch Disrupt Aaron Levie, CEO at Box participating on a panel about drones, made a business case for the use of drones in an enterprise context, making Watches yesterday’s news (literally).

While Levie fully acknowledged that we were very early days when it came to drones in a commercial context, he indicated they would very likely be massive sources of data and Levie wants Box to process all of it, much like Marc Benioff in a TechCrunch Disrupt interview yesterday said he wanted Salesforce to be front and center in the move to wearables.

Levie told me that there are only so many documents, but as these drones are collecting information, often very large audio and video files, the platform nature of Box lends itself to building access to any data source whether sensors or drone hard drives.

As an example, Levie said they had been talking to an insurance company that wants to fly drones into natural disaster areas to survey damage of customer properties “That ability to massively increase data inputs is incredible to any business that runs on information and obviously we want that to be [processed and stored] in Box,” he said.

He said, it may not be sexy to talk about insurance companies, search and rescue teams or oil and gas companies using drones, but these industrial examples are where we should be putting our attention.

He pointed out that in the earliest days of computers, they tended to have a military usage until they moved into business and later personal usage, and he said we are starting to see a similar transition to business and personal usage with drones.

He said if you think about the data generated by any business, the data created by these devices will be an order magnitude bigger, and he believes that for certain types of businesses scenarios, “these flying robots will be a massive sources of information.”

Levie conceded it’s easy to make light of drones, but he sees the huge potential for enterprise use. “We are the internet in 1993 before the browser, the cell phone before the iPhone,” he said. “We are seeing initial use cases that might not be the ones that are the transformative ones.”

There are of course lots of practical and regulatory issues around privacy, standards, safety, traffic, and a host of other problems that need to be resolved, but the potential for certain industries to use drones armed with sensor packs to gather information, especially in areas where it’s difficult or dangerous for humans to go, is just tremendous.

While you’re pondering how to deal with the Apple Watch and other wearables in the enterprise, you may want to add drones to your list of potential technology. You can make fun if you like or look at the technology with fear or even as toys, but you could also looks for ways they could help your organization process information.