19 April 2015

Venture Capital: UAS Operational Risk Management...

When technology innovation in the military and clandestine community finally makes it's way out to the commercial landscape, venture capital is there to invest.  Operational Risk Management (ORM) is at the center of the strategic capabilities necessary, to accomplish the frontiers of the new markets.  The "Unmanned Aircraft System" (UAS) is now poised to launch new businesses, to address new solutions for identified problems of situational awareness.  18 months ago, The Washington Post highlights the future of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV):
As drones evolve from military to civilian uses, venture capitalists move in
By Olga Kharif, Published: November 1, 2013
Commercial drones will soon populate U.S. airspace, and venture capitalists like Tim Draper are placing their bets. 
Draper, an early investor in Hotmail, Skype and Baidu, is now backing DroneDeploy, a start-up that is building software to direct unmanned aircraft on land mapping and the surveillance of agricultural fields. Draper says he even expects drones to one day bring him dinner. 
“Drones hold the promise of companies anticipating our every need and delivering without human involvement,” Draper, 55, wrote in an e-mail. “Everything from pizza delivery to personal shopping can be handled by drones.” 
Venture investors in the United States poured $40.9 million into drone-related start-ups in the first nine months of this year, more than double the amount for all of 2012, according to data provided to Bloomberg News by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. Drones are moving from the military, where they’ve been used to spy on and kill suspected terrorists, to a range of civilian activities. 
Congress has directed the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a plan to integrate drones into U.S. airspace by 2015 and to move faster on standards for drones weighing less than 55 pounds.
As new commercial businesses invent new ways to adapt the use of a UAS, to replace a pilot inside a cockpit, there are tremendous risks.  Simultaneously there are substantial undiscovered opportunities for business and a new generation of UAS pilots.  The commercial decisions that are made to allow the use of an UAS in a particular air space, for a specific type of task or service, will be questioned and made into political television ads.  As Senators, House Representatives, County Supervisors and City Mayors across the United States, welcome the use of new automated platforms, the debate will be fierce.  The decisions evermore difficult.

From a business perspective the Operational Risk Management (ORM) strategy is essentially the same whenever a new product is launched.  Yet this debate will start much more different than the one we had, as the Personal Computer was launched or the Cellular Telephone.  Privacy was an after thought then. Not any longer.

You see, UAS platforms will be information collectors just as PC's and Smartphones.  So what has changed?  The public has now been more educated on how information can be collected by the businesses who operate these new inventions.  The public better understands how their own personal information may be used for purposes to serve advertisements or optimize a particular information-based service, such as mapping and activity-based intelligence.  They understand how governments may use the information to protect the homeland.

The Venture Capitalist markets for the introduction of UAS technologies have a myriad of Operational Risks, beyond just the privacy debate.  The liability and insurance markets will also be spinning up to address the potential of loss events.  This in itself, will complicate the launch of new products and services to the general public.  So what.  Now turn to the innovations that could be making a difference for mankind.  The marketplace is evidently ready according to this April 14th, 2015 WSJ article:
Chinese consumer drone maker DJI is in talks to raise funding at a valuation as high as $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a sizable bet by investors that flying robots will overcome looming regulation and safety concerns.
Think about the possibilities.  Think about the ways that a customized UAS could save lives.  Think about how the information collected, with specific sensors may provide new insight.  Think about business decisions beyond those the Venture Capitalists have seen and thought about so far.  The adoption of services, to reduce human intervention and increase efficiency will come first.  But go farther.  Reach beyond these, to unlock how a third dimension of information, perspective, speed and agility may improve our planet.

Think humanitarian.  Think disaster management.  Think ecological. Think about how gaining timely information and applying it to good use, it changes everything.

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