I have just finished writing, with help from colleagues, a Qi3 Insights White Paper on the UAV sector, and it has raised some very interesting issues about the nature of the value chain. The background is that the capabilities of the UAV sector and of remote sensing are rapidly converging. UAV payload capabilities are increasing, while the size, weight and power consumption of remote sensing instruments is rapidly decreasing. The resultant ability to fly different remote sensing instruments on UAVs will open up a wide range of civilian markets in development, environment, natural resources, energy, communications, and disasters.
In these two converging worlds, there are already a number of value chains. In analysing how these may interact and form collaborations to exploit new markets, I came to the conclusion that these value chains are unlikely to merge together. They will probably form a set of connections to look more like a ‘web of value’. This is shown graphically in the White Paper.
As this happens, it raises interesting strategic questions over the best type of business model to use. Should a company focus on being a domain expert in one area, such as UAV operations, remote sensing instrument manufacture, or delivering specific applications? Or should a company go for world domination, adopting what I call the Schlumberger business model of bringing all elements in-house that are necessary for the application (technology, operations, data, etc) and selling only the final service?
I am not yet sure of the best approach for different types of company. Why don’t you read the paper and see what you think.
Robin works for a wide range of companies helping them develop new markets and solve issues arising as the result of changing market conditions. If you would like to discuss his thoughts above or other such issues in your business, please contact him on email@example.com or 01223 422404.
 Trade Mark of Schlumberger Ltd